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Georgia Republican instructs House on proper Pledge of Allegiance technique
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday April 15, 2008

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No pause between 'one nation under god,' lawmaker reminds

A freshman Georgia Republican wanted to stress the importance of divine oversight of the US as he saw it portrayed in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leading the pledge on the House floor Monday, Rep. Paul Broun lectured others in the chamber about the "correct way" of saying the pledge.

"There should not be a comma between 'one nation' and 'under God,'" Broun told his colleagues before beginning his rendition of a pause-free pledge.

It may seem a minor issue, but some have argued that saying the pledge as Broun prefers -- and as it was written when "under God" was inserted in 1954 -- implies a fealty to religion that is inappropriate in the US.

"Without a comma, the phrase indicates that the central characteristic of the United States as a political community is its subordination to God," wrote history professor Matthew Dennis, after the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to strike "under God" as unconstitutional. "In short, the political community is defined by its religious charge. A pledge that states this becomes, in the words of the 9th Circuit, 'impermissible government endorsement of religion,' functioning to 'enforce a religious orthodoxy of mono- theism.'"

The pledge had no reference to a diety until 1954, when Cold War fever saw its inclusion to separate Americans from "godless Communists." The Supreme Court dismissed a case arguing that the phrase violated the First Amendment's guarantees of freedom of religion because the plaintiff had no standing to argue the case, not because of any inherent legal justification for the phrase.

A Broun spokesman even said there should be no pause to emphasize there is "no separation or implied separation between nation and God." So his House floor lesson may be more than just a penchant for details.

“As a Marine, clearly, he’s had to face a lot more difficult challenges than instructing Members of Congress on the proper way of saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” spokesman John Kennedy told Roll Call's Heard on the Hill column. “There is, in fact, no comma in that section. So correctly, it’s said, ‘One nation under [God],’ no separation or implied separation between nation and God.”

A first-term lawmaker from the northeastern corner of Georgia, Broun's House floor admonition was not his only attempt to insert God further into American life. Last November, he supported a resolution honoring a group promoting the Ten Commandments.

"I commend the Ten Commandments Commission for their efforts to remind Americans that we are, in fact, 'one nation under God,'" he said at the time.

This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast April 14, 2008.

Click here to download video