The Fate of Under God in The Pledge of Allegiance Hangs in the Balance Today

Mar 24, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United States Supreme Court hears arguments on the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Liberty Counsel filed an Amicus Brief at the United States Supreme Court in the case of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow on behalf of Bill Federer and Amerisearch, Inc. Mr. Federer is an expert in American history and has written extensively about the religious heritage of America. Mr. Federer is also running for Congress to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Dick Gephart.

The Brief draws the Court’s attention to the vast reservoir of public acknowledgments of God in American history. The Brief traces many Presidential proclamations throughout the years that have candidly mentioned God and invoked His blessings on the country. The history of these proclamations continues to this present day with President Bush’s State of the Union address in 2003, where he stated, “Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to humanity.”

The Brief also traces every inaugural address of every American President and lists each time every President, from George Washington to George W. Bush, has acknowledged God in these addresses. Additionally, the founding documents of America acknowledge God from Virginia’s first charter to the Manifesto of the Continental Congress. The Brief describes how every State Constitution acknowledges God and also argues that God is the basis of our freedom and our laws. As John F. Kennedy stated in his Inaugural Address, “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God.” Thomas Jefferson, whom the Supreme Court has credited with the “separation of church and state” metaphor, exhorted, “[It is] God who gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a Gift of God?”

Of all the briefs filed in this case, National Public Radio selected Liberty Counsel to present the defense of the Pledge of Allegiance in its national broadcast. Last week, Mathew Staver was interviewed by NPR’s Legal Affairs Correspondent, Nina Totenberg. That interview, along with an interview with Michael Newdow, the atheist who brought the case, will air today before the Court hears oral arguments.

Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated, “The phrase ‘under God’ in no way establishes a religion. American history is a religious history. When the Court views the long-standing history that illuminates our common heritage, they should easily uphold the Pledge of Allegiance.”