It’s second hour. The teachers turn on the announcements and encourage students to stand and recite the words that have caused so much controversy in recent years. Some stay seated and some begrudgingly rise from their seats, yet only a few actually say the Pledge of Allegiance. Every Monday, this process repeats itself. It seems to be two words out of the 26 words that causes some people to refuse to participate.

         The phrase “Under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to combat communist ideals of the time. Communists believe religion steers the minds of people away from the authority of those in charge. In societies such as the USSR religion was prohibited. So I am grateful that in the United States, I am able to freely practice my religion and follow the God I know.

        But who is this God we are talking about? For me, God is a creator, a father, a friend. Growing up in a Christian home, God has been a part of my daily life since I was young. I attended a Lutheran grade school, I go to church every Sunday, and I have read the Bible from cover to cover. The words “Under God” speak to me and my religion. However, according to Pew Research Center, 22.8 percent of people in the United States today do not acknowledge the presence of a god in their everyday lives. But ‘God’ is a term that encompasses much. To some it may literally mean ‘God,’ or the deity they follow in their religion, and to others it may mean something entirely different.

        Today, 89 percent of Americans do believe in a god or a universal spirit. Whether this God is Christian, Muslim or otherwise, the majority of people in the United States recognize the possibility of a god. I think it is safe to say that “Under God” should remain a part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Our culture has evolved so much over the past 200 years that certain U.S. documents have become open for interpretation. People have changed the initial meaning to many things written in the past. When the U.S. Constitution was written, it gave rights to only the free, white men. Now, the phrase “all men are created equal” extends to all people. Certainly, we can leave “under God” open to interpretation as well.

        People might argue the god referred to in the Pledge of Allegiance is the Christian God because the founders of the United States as well as those who wrote the pledge. The fact that the creators of this country were Christian has nothing to do with the phrase being included. This expression is paying homage to our freedom of religion. It does not mean we are a Christian nation and when you say the pledge, you are conforming to the Christian identity. The phrase was included to show that we were, and still are, a nation that protects individuals’ rights to freely practice whatever religion they see fit.

Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or otherwise, you have the freedom to practice as you please. Even if you don’t practice a religion, the government is giving you the right to do so. The Pledge of Allegiance was not written to force anyone into believing anything. It was written to show the freedoms we share as American citizens, and we should stand and say the pledge to a country that allows us these liberties.