The pledge that we now use as the official Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America was originally written by a Baptist minister who chose to leave God out of it. Not only that, the original pledge he wrote didn’t even have America in it. It was a generic pledge written to be used by any nation that wishes to uphold the ideals of freedom and justice.
The following paragraph was lifted from the Wikipedia article on the Pledge of Allegiance:
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. The original pledge was: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” His intent was to create a pledge that could be used in any country. The Pledge was supposed to be quick and to the point. Bellamy designed it to be recited in 15 seconds. As a socialist, he had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans.
In other words, the original pledge was designed by a Christian leader who saw the importance of fostering religious freedom in the marketplace. He would have been against adding “under God” a hundred years later.
But John … why would a Christian ever champion leaving God out of anything? Out of respect for those who don’t believe in God, or in the Judeo-Christian God. This would be a Christian who wants the freedom to introduce a relationship with Christ in an environment where people don’t feel forced to believe in this God by the state. A free public square leads to a free and open sharing of the gospel while still respecting others’ beliefs. Leaving God out of public life allows us to more freely introduce Him into our private lives and into our relationships in the marketplace.
Even the biblical teaching that law brings about transgression shows why using the law to coerce right beliefs creates a natural resistance against those beliefs. It’s human nature. People resist what they feel forced to do. We want to bring people to Christ by winsomely appealing to their own free will, not by in any manner forcing them to believe what we believe.
This is obviously a radical departure from how Christians have been thinking and acting in the marketplace for the last several decades. That’s why I’m spending time on it. It’s important if we are going to introduce the Gospel of Welcome in the marketplace today that we know how to think about and treat those with different, even opposing, views. We are living in a time of great diversity. There were times in our national history and heritage when assuming a belief in the Judeo-Christian God we love and worship was closer to a universal belief than it is now. That assumption would not even have been challenged 60 years ago except by a very small minority. This is a different age. In this time of great diversity; we need another way of thinking — a way that respects and gives dignity to those of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
We want the gospel to have the opportunity rise up and be what it is by the power of its truth and the Holy Spirit, not the power of America.
Francis Bellamy was way ahead of his time.