KENNER, La. (BP)–Our church has found a new way to say the Pledge of Allegiance. When we get down to “one nation under God,” we literally shout the last two words. I confess here and now it feels good to do it that way. If atheists have the right not to say those words — and they do — then the rest of us have the right to emphasize them.
We are indebted to a fellow in California who brought the suit about the pledge and to a couple of oddball San Francisco judges for unifying America. When is the last time the Senate voted 99-0 on anything? A national poll says 87 percent of the American people want the words “under God” to remain in the pledge. Americans have drawn a line in the sand that says “this far and no farther.”
It’s been pointed out about 800 times in recent days that every allegiance-pledger has his or her own interpretation of “under God.” Here is mine.
When I say “one nation under God,” I mean we are indebted to Almighty God for America and the privilege of living here. No one now living hammered out the freedoms and safeguards which make America distinctive among the nations of the world. She was already great when we arrived. We salute the flag and applaud our service men and women and pray for our leaders, but somehow it just doesn’t seem enough. It feels like we ought to thank Someone. And so we give honor to the Father in heaven, who for reasons of his own chose to bless this nation above all nations of the world.
When I say “one nation under God,” I mean that no matter how much we bend over backward to accommodate citizens of all religions and no religion in this country, this is still a nation of believers, of people who take God seriously and pray to him. Millions call the president’s name in prayer every day. The heart of America is not a government building somewhere, but a child kneeling by the bed at night saying his prayers. The strength of America is its churches. The hope of America is the people who turn their hearts toward heaven and worship Almighty God.
When I say “one nation under God,” I mean God is the sovereign ruler of the universe, that he is in charge and we are accountable to him. Every nation of the world will someday stand before God and give account. This is the fact; it’s not an opinion or denominational doctrine or debatable. It’s not up for a vote and nothing the polls say changes anything. All nations are “under God.”
Saying “one nation under God” means I for one am determined that Almighty God shall not be ignored or denied or impeached. He cannot be voted out of office or evicted from his throne. The courts of this land get it right sometimes and miss it altogether at others, but no decision they make will change my loyalty to God and this country. I will pray to my Heavenly Father and will exercise my constitutional freedom to worship and speak out publicly and witness to my neighbor about Jesus Christ. I am registered to vote and I do, even when nothing monumental is on the ballot and most voters find other things to do. I donate money to candidates I have confidence in. I will support elected leaders who lead us faithfully and work to oust any who betray our trust or lead us astray.
“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.” Amen.
McKeever is pastor of First Baptist Church, Kenner, La.