WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm the phrase “under God” should remain in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The House approved the measure, which also reaffirms “In God we trust” as the national motto, in a 401-5 vote Oct. 8. The Senate approved similar legislation by a 99-0 vote in late June. The House amended the Senate version to permit non-uniformed people with religious headpieces to keep them on when saying the pledge to the United States flag.
The congressional action came in response to a June 26 opinion by a federal appeals court that the pledge violates the Constitution because it includes the words “under God.” In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned a 1954 act of Congress that inserted “under God” after the phrase “one nation” in the pledge. The judges ruled the phrase violates the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.
Widespread disapproval greeted the court’s ruling, and the panel stayed enforcement of the decision. If permitted to stand, the opinion would prevent students from reciting the pledge in the nine Western states of the Ninth Circuit.
“During a time when our nation’s very ideals are being threatened, it is crazy that the Pledge of Allegiance is under fire by a liberal court,” said Rep. Dick Armey, R.-Texas, the House majority leader. “This is not about forcing school children to profess a faith in God, as some liberal extremists [say]. It’s about allowing school children and all Americans the freedom to recite the pledge word for word with pride and without fear of consequences.”
The five House members who voted against the bill were Democrats Barney Frank of Massachusetts; Michael Honda and Pete Stark, both of California; Jim McDermott of Washington; and Bobby Scott of Virginia.
Four others voted “present,” while 21 members did not vote.