All Nations Under God

Flag
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Matthew 35:32

On October 11, 1892, Francis Bellamy wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance. Bellamy was a Christian Socialist who spoke in favor of political, social, and economic equality for all. His pledge was published in a popular family magazine at the time called "The Youth’s Companion." To commemorate Columbus Day that year, Bellamy, who was a member of the National Education Association, planned a program for public school children that included a flag raising ceremony and his salute to the flag. It went like this:

At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute -- right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
– From The Youth’s Companion, 65 (1892): 446–447.

The words and the Bellamy salute remained untouched until June 14 (Flag Day), 1923 and 1924. At the National Flag Conference in those years, the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution were instrumental in amending the pledge so it reflected allegiance to only the flag of the Untied States of America.

June 14, 1923

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

June 14, 1924

I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

Bellamy disliked these changes (he intended for his pledge to apply to any nation’s flag), but his protests went ignored. By this time, he had been pressured to leave the Baptist ministry because of the congregation's resistance to his socialist sermons.

More than a decade after Bellamy’s death, President Franklin Roosevelt replaced the Bellamy salute, hand outstretched toward the flag, with the gesture of putting the right hand over the heart. This was to avoid confusion since the Bellamy salute was similar to the Nazi salute. On June 22, 1942, Congress declared the Pledge of Allegiance as the official national pledge and established rules for honoring the flag.


Six years later, Louis Bowman, a chaplain for the Illinois Sons of the American Revolution, began adding the words “under God” to the pledge, borrowing them from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This change was strongly supported by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus, along with other prominent individuals and organizations. The Knights of Columbus tried repeatedly to get Congress to officially adopt the words, but it was unsuccessful until 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower listened to a sermon offered by George MacPherson Docherty, a Scottish Presbyterian minister. Docherty’s sermon centered on the merits of adding the words “under God” to the pledge. As President Eisenhower and his family sat in a pew once occupied by Abraham Lincoln, Docherty’s words touched the President’s heart. The very next day, he had Congress working to amend the words, and on June 14, 1954, the final change was made:

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.

Afterward, Eisenhower wrote: These words [“under God”] will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.

It was no accident that God found His way into our national pledge. John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For God so loved the WORLD, not just our country, but every nation on Earth. God is in America, Iran, North Korea, Israel, and everywhere. It may not be obvious to us, but one day He will free the oppressed and gather all nations unto Him.

As we celebrate Independence Day this week, let’s pray for those all around the world who are hoping and fighting for their freedom.

Heavenly Father, we know that You are in all things. We pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are not free to live life as they choose. Make yourself known to them, Lord, and in your time, free all nations and bring us together in Peace and Love.

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I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
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By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


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