Frank Mickens took NBC to task for its censorship of “under God” and “indivisible” from the Pledge of Allegiance over the weekend. Mickens is a news anchor for CBS affiliate WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina. He did what our free press is supposed to do: hold accountable those in power. We need more intrepid journalists like Frank Mickens.
NBC had presented a wonderful video montage showing our brave soldiers defending us in foreign lands, interspersed with school children reciting the Pledge. It was a beautiful image — until alert viewers spotted the mangling of the words. This was no accident, no mere oversight. This was a conscious decision of NBC executives to trash the congressionally mandated words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Has NBC become the Newdow Broadcasting Company? Michael Newdow, you’ll recall, is the legal gadfly who is forever running into federal courts trying to get “under God” thrown out of the Pledge and “In God We Trust” stricken from our money. Newdow and his fellow atheizers will not rest until they’ve sand-blasted our monuments on the Mall and bulldozed the crosses and Stars of David at the U.S. Cemetery in Normandy.
When called on their censorship, NBC quickly issued a non-apologetic apology. If any of our viewers were offended, we are sorry, they “humma-hummaed.” They didn’t even say the words that they were sorry for censoring. Nor did they broadcast a complete version of the Pledge of Allegiance. Their trial balloon went down like the Hindenberg, but the NBC “suits” stayed on board until it crashed.
Striking out “under God” is no small omission. It goes to the core of what we are as a people. We are coming up to the Fourth of July weekend. The Declaration of Independence repeatedly refers to God and His rule over this nation. In the Declaration, we acknowledge Him as our Creator, the endower of our rights. We appeal to Him as the Supreme Judge of the world. We beg for the protection of our country by Divine Providence. Our view of ourselves as a nation under God could not be clearer.
Just as in the days of slavery, many today try to de-emphasize the Declaration of Independence while worshiping the Constitution. We should have reverence for the Constitution, yes. But Lincoln described the relationship of the Declaration to the Constitution in the poetic words of Scripture: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) Lincoln said that the principle that all men are created equal was the apple of gold:
The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word “fitly spoken” which has proven an “apple of gold” to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture.
None of the words fitly spoken in the Constitution’s picture, or frame, make sense if they are not related to those apples of gold in the Declaration.
By censoring “under God,” we remove an essential support for the Declaration and the Constitution. Ours is no “godless Constitution,” as some atheizers believe, because ours is no godless nation. We have no state religion, thank God, and no established church. This is as it should be. But neither should we permit atheists to force their worldview on us and make a “naked public square” secularism our governing philosophy.
The American people, through their elected representatives, put “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. It has been there since 1954. President Eisenhower signed the bill. If the atheizers want to get rid of it, they are free to go to Congress and to propose legislation to remove those words. What they are not free to do is to strike them down by judicial usurpation or by the outrageous and offensive censorship of a licensed broadcaster using the public airways.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are Senior Fellows with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.