The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). The original “Pledge of Allegiance” was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas
Bellamy’s original Pledge read as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The recital was accompanied with a salute to the flag known as the Bellamy salute, described in detail by Bellamy. During World War II, the salute was replaced with a hand-over-heart gesture because the original form involved stretching the arm out towards the flag in a manner that resembled the later Nazi salute.
In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:
“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.”
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:
“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.”
Bellamy was a Christian Socialist who “championed ‘the rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources, which he believed was inherent in the teachings of Jesus.’” In 1891, Bellamy was forced from his Boston pulpit for his socialist sermons, and eventually stopped attending church altogether after moving to Florida, reportedly because of the racism he witnessed there.
is a form of religious socialism based on the teachings of Jesus. Many Christian socialists believe capitalism to be idolatrous and rooted in greed, which some Christians denominations consider a mortal sin. Christian socialists identify the cause of inequality to be associated with the greed that they associate with capitalism.
Elements that would form the basis of Christian socialism are found in the Old and New Testaments
The Torah instructs followers to treat neighbours equally and to be generous to have nots, such as stating:
You shall not oppress your neighbour…but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord
—(Lev 19:13, 18).
He [the Lord your God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt
When you reap in your harvest in the field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it…When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again…When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this
The Psalms that were written in a period of eight hundred years from 1300-500 B.C. include many references to social justice for the poor:
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked
—(Ps. 82 (81): 3, 4).
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!…He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his born is exalted in honour
—(Ps. 112 (111): 1, 9).
Amos emphasizes the need for “justice” and “righteousness” that is described as conduct that emphasizes love for those who are poor and to oppose oppression and injustice towards the poor. The prophet Isaiah (759-694 B.C.) to whom is attributed the first thirty-nine chapters of the Book of Isaiah, followed upon Amos’ themes of justice and righteousness involving the poor as necessary for followers of God, denouncing those who do not do these things, stating:
Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood…cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow
The Book of Sirach denounces the pursuit of wealth, stating:
He who loves gold will not be justified, and he who pursues money will be led astray by it. Many have come to ruin because of gold, and their destruction has met them face to face. It is a stumbling block to those who are devoted to it, and every fool will be taken captive by it
—(Sir. 31: 5-7).
The most important quote of the Old Testament that has been recognized by Christian socialists is the verse from Ecclesiastes 3:13 that describes God as promoting an egalitarian society, stating:
It is God’s gift to humankind that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil
—(Ecc. 3: 13).
In the New Testament, Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 identifies himself with the hungry, the poor, the sick, and the prisoners. In the passage, Jesus states that “to feed the hungry” is not simple but requires planning and says that the planning will have to be just as complex, sophisticated, and as long-range as the demand and provision for food, clothing, and shelter requires. Jesus states that prisoners must be treated with compassion otherwise those who mistreat them will be condemned to hell. Matthew 25:31-46 is a major component of Christianity and is considered the cornerstone of Christian socialism. Another key statement in the New Testament that is an important component of Christian socialism is Luke 10:25-37 that follows up on the statement “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” with the follow-up question “And who is my neighbour?” With the revolutionary response that the neighbour includes the Samaritans of this world, all those who are most despised and rejected. The Samaritans were considered a heretical sect and were the objects of hostility and contempt by ancient Jews.
In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus says, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied” (Luke 6:20, 21).
Christian socialists note that James the Just, the brother of Jesus of Nazareth, in the Epistle of James criticizes the rich intensely and in strong language:
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up for treasure for the last days. Behond, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you have kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter
Early Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches
Basil of Caesarea (c. 330-379), the patriarch of the Eastern monks who became Bishop of Caesarea, established a complex around the church and monastery that included hostels, almshouses, and hospitals for infectious diseases. During the great famine of 368, Basil denounced against profiteers and the indifferent rich.Basil wrote the sermon on The Rich Foolin which he states:
Who is the covetous man? One for whom plenty is not enough. Who is the defrauder? One who takes away what belongs to everyone. And are not you covetous, are you not a defrauder, when you keep for private use what you were given for distribution? When some one strips a man of his clothes we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not—should not he be given the same name? The bread in your hoard belongs to the hungry; the cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked; the shoes you let rot belong to the barefoot; the money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. All you might help and do not—to all these you are doing wrong
—Basil of Caesarea from the The Rich Fool.
Basil held sympathy for those who were unemployed for no fault of their own, but he held no sympathy for deadbeats and able-bodiedbeggars.
John Chrysostom declared his reasons for his attitude towards the rich and position of attitude towards wealth by saying:
I am often reproached for continually attacking the rich. Yes, because the rich are continually attacking the poor. But those I attack are not the rich as such, only those who misuse their wealth. I point out constantly that those I accuse are not the rich, but the rapacious; wealth is one thing, covetousness another. Learn to distinguish.
In Victorian Britain, the art critic John Ruskin in his later life expounded theories about social justice in Unto This Last (1860). The painters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were influenced and sponsored by Ruskin. The artist William Morris was a leader of the Socialist League founded in December 1884. The Fabian Society was founded in the same year; Sydney and Beatrice Webb were its leading members. George Bernard Shaw and the members of the Bloomsbury Group were also influenced by the Fabians. Such Christian socialist thinkers were important in the early history of the British Labour party.In the November 1914 issue of the The Christian Socialist, Episcopal bishop Franklin Spencer Spalding of Utah, U.S.A. stated: “The Christian Church exists for the sole purpose of saving the human race. So far she has failed, but I think that Socialism shows her how she may succeed. It insists that men cannot be made right until the material conditions be made right. Although man cannot live by bread alone, he must have bread. Therefore the Church must destroy a system of society which inevitably creates and perpetuates unequal and unfair conditions of life. These unequal and unfair conditions have been created by competition. Therefore competition must cease and cooperation take its place.”Despite the explicit rejection of Socialism, in the more Catholic countries of Europe the encyclical’s teaching was the inspiration that led to the formation of new Christian democratic parties. A number of Christian socialist movements and political parties throughout the world group themselves into the International League of Religious Socialists. It has member organizations in 21 countries representing 200,000 members.
Christian socialists draw parallels between what some have characterized as the egalitarian and anti-establishment message of Jesus, who–according to the Gospel–spoke against the religious authorities of his time, and the egalitarian, anti-establishment, and sometimes anti-clerical message of most contemporary socialisms.
FYI, Unlike many of my other posts I did not add any exposition to the above information. Much of it was taken from Wikipedia and a few other sites discussing the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. I just thought it was some interesting info with some strange ironies mixed in that people might want to discuss or review.