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What is the history of the United States motto "one nation under God"?

I saw it claimed in § "History of the 🇺🇸" of

that

The Knights of Columbus even convinced President Eisenhower to add the words ‘Under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Is this true?

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1 Answer 1

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I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.1

The Pledge of Allegiance was modified in 1954.

The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress passed a law, which added the words “under God” after “one nation.”

In 1892, Francis Bellamy revised Balch's verse:

Bellamy's version of the pledge is largely the same as the one formally adopted by Congress 50 years later, in 1942. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The most recent alteration of its wording came on Flag Day (June 14) in 1954, when the words "under God" were added.

It's first version was written in 1885 by Captain George Thatcher Balch.


After the question was updated, it seems important to widen the sources and reasons why the words "under god" were added.

On September 17, 2002, the 107th Congress:

Clearly, America has a rich history of referring to God in its political and civic discourse and acknowledging the important role faith and religion have played throughout our Nation's history.

According to History:

The push to add “under God” to the pledge gained momentum during the second Red Scare, a period when U.S. politicians were keen to assert the moral superiority of U.S. capitalism over Soviet communism, which many conservatives regarded as “godless.”

Britannica's ProCon shows a timeline with related events, and it seems like, when started, the snowball effect only grew bigger:

Feb. 12, 1948 - Sons of the American Revolution Chaplain Includes 'under God' in Pledge Recitation.

Apr. 22, 1951 - Knights of Columbus Add 'Under God' to Pledge Recited at Meetings.

1952-1954 - Hearst Campaigns to Add 'Under God' to Pledge.

1953 - House and Senate Introduce Bills to Add 'Under God' to Pledge.


1. every step and its meaning are explained in the link The Pledge of Allegiance

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  • Wow, so it's a relatively recent addition.
    – Geremia
    Feb 21 at 18:24
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    @Geremia - IIRC, the reason it was added then was because the Cold War was heating up (this was smack dab in the middle of the Red Scare). The "God" stuff was deemed a poison pill to Communists, as they were officially atheist, and thus could no longer honestly take the pledge. So it was really an anti-Communist measure more than a pro-Religion measure.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 21 at 19:09
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    @T.E.D. It's both.
    – Geremia
    Feb 21 at 19:25
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    @Geremia - Disagree. This country had nearly a century before then to add that, including more religous periods like The Third Great Awakening which was going on while the pledge was written. Instead, it was added during the height of the Red Scare.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 21 at 19:37
  • @T.E.D. The Great Awakening was primarily Protestant. If the quote in my edited question is true, Catholics were responsible for adding "under God" to the pledge.
    – Geremia
    Feb 21 at 19:41

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