By Pat Boone
Back in 1954, a skinny 20-year-old kid from Nashville was on the brink of a dream come true — a career in entertainment and music.
Even then, he knew something that still holds true 50 years later: that a little faith in God can be a very big thing. I know this for a fact, because I’m that skinny kid.
That was a breakout year for me. I was in my first year of marriage. I appeared for the first time on Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts” and Ted Mack’s “Original Amateur Hour” and was blessed to win them both. I inked my first recording contract with Dot Records. Soon after, I had my first chart hit. Shirley and I were expecting our first child, little Cherry. Life was good.
I recall another event that year, in June. I was in school at North Texas State, preaching on Sundays in little Slidell, Texas, when President Eisenhower signed an amendment adding two words to our Pledge of Allegiance: “Under God.” In so doing, he said, “we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage.”
How many of America’s political leaders, in this era of political correctness, would have the spine to utter such words today?
I’m proud and happy to be an American and offer my allegiance without hesitation, knowing that America’s freedoms, virtues and culture enrich my life and the lives of my wife and children. And like that 20-year-old in 1954, I realize that these blessings didn’t come to us by happenstance.
As wise as our forefathers were, even they recognized that Divine Providence influenced their every move. It was Alexis de Tocqueville who said, “I do not know if all Americans have faith in their religion … but I am sure they think it necessary for the maintenance of republican institutions.” Amen.
A belief in God is still central to the lives of most Americans — 86 percent, according to one recent poll. That hasn’t stopped a vocal minority, however, from trying to hold society hostage to its narrow views, agitating for government to remove the words “In God We Trust” from our coins and “Under God” from the Pledge.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance may violate the First Amendment’s “separation of church and state.” Yet, the First Amendment never mentions the words church, state, or separation.
President Eisenhower didn’t say which God or whose God guides America. He simply recognized God, as have all American Presidents at one time or another, starting with George Washington, whose first inaugural address made reference to “that Almighty Being,” the “Great Author,” his “Invisible Hand,” “Heaven itself,” the “Parent of the Human Race,” and sought for America “His divine blessing.” Any doubt what Washington would have thought of efforts to purge “Under God” from the Pledge?
While they’re certainly entitled to their views, maybe it’s time to tell the 14 percent to “shut up” and get over it. While the Constitution guarantees their right to hold and express whatever views they wish, the Constitution also guarantees majority rule. We have rights too, even if a minority of Americans objects.
Americans from all religious traditions praise God’s blessings every day and pray for His forgiveness. In God we trust.
The Pledge of Allegiance is an expression of national purpose and unity. The fact that it contains the words “Under God” no more makes it a religious statement then when we say a hurricane or tornado is “an act of God.”
When I cut my most recent record album, the “American Glory” CD, I included the original song “Under God” to remind Americans, especially the young, why those two words are included in and appropriate for the Pledge.
Every time I recite the 31-word Pledge I am moved by it. Remove the words “Under God” and the tone and texture changes dramatically.
I can only speak for Pat Boone. But the Pledge without reference to that “transcendent” higher authority would not be the same. I would feel less the man, less the patriot, less the blessed.
The Supreme Court will rule on the Pledge case this year. With God’s guidance, they will remain true to our Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and the American people.
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Pat Boone, singer and performer, sold more records in the 1950s than all other artists except Elvis Presley. Boone is in his 50th year of show business and is national spokesperson for the 60 Plus Association, a senior-citizen advocacy group headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.