| 55 years ago today, a bunch of pissing-their-pants authoritarian submissives in Congress added the phrase "under god" to the pledge of allegiance.
Leaving aside for the moment the gross inappropriateness of pledging allegiance to the flag, as opposed to, say, the Constitution, let's remember the circumstances under which Congress added an unconstitutional religious reference to a secular pledge.
1954 was the depths of the Cold War. New Deal liberals were being hounded out of jobs for the crime of having, in the 1930s, supported a nation that that became our most valuable ally in World War II. By 1954, those liberals had learned enough about the horrors of the USSR under Stalin to have recoiled and recanted, but that was not enough for the witch hunters.
There were multiple ground on which to condemn the Soviet Union and China (which had embraced communism in 1949), stark differences with the U.S. by which to promote American values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Instead of highlighting Stalin's and Mao's dicatorial power in a totalitarian state, the purges of political opponents, the ethnic cleansing, the command economy that left millions to starve, Congress chose to focus on ... atheism.
America was better than communist nations not because of our dedication to the rule of law, not because of our Constitution that guaranteed civil rights (albeit not yet fully realized), not because of a balanced economy that encouraged small business while regulating capitalism's excesses, not because of our mixed but undeniable success in fulfilling the promise and embodying the values of the Founders.
No, Congress and President Eisenhower effectively declared that the most critical American value to hold up against communism was a value specifically kept out of the Constitution by its authors: superstitious worship.
For the full argument, see David Greenburg's 2002 piece in Slate, Why We're Not One Nation "Under God."
Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.