Pennsylvania lawmaker wants state to honor addition of 'under God' to Pledge of Allegiance
Patriotic Child Saying Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag (Shutterstock)

A Pennsylvania legislator is sponsoring a bill to recognize the 60th anniversary of the addition of the phrase, “under God,” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rep. John McGinnis (R-Blair) wants the state to formally recognize the phrase being added to the pledge February 1954, or 12 years after the pledge was adopted by Congress and 62 years after it was written.

The bill notes that God was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as the source of rights and liberty and that Pennsylvania also recognized God in its state constitution.

“On February 7, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower came to the conviction that adding the words ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States would be the right ‘thing to do after hearing Reverend George Docherty preach that the phrase ‘nation under God, which was first used in the Gettysburg Address, was appropriate to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance because freedom ‘is defined by a fundamental belief in God,’” the bill says.

Congress voted to amend the pledge three days later, and McGinnis wants lawmakers to mark the Feb. 10 anniversary.

“It is the policy of the House of Representatives to recognize and honor such an important date, which strengthens the ties of history that bind us to our Judeo-Christian heritage,” the bill says.

Secular activists said the bill, while essentially meaningless, adds to misconceptions about the Pledge of Allegiance and the nation’s founders.

“This resolution -- still in its infancy, without all of the official markings including sponsors and co-sponsors -- is yet another obvious overlap of religion and government in Pennsylvania promoting the myth that the United States is a Christian nation and eroding the secular character of public schools,” said atheist activist Justin Vacula. “Lawmakers apparently have nothing better to do.”