- (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
A Michigan senator is fighting to ensure the phrase "under God" remains in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance forever.
Michigan State Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge announced Thursday that he is introducing Senate Resolution 108, which seeks to ensure that Congress will "forever keep" the religious reference in the Pledge of Allegiance. Senate Resolution 108 is the Republican's first legislative measure of 2014.
"These small yet powerful words, 'nation, under God,' were first spoken by President Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address. They gave our nation strength to persevere then and are the thread that holds us together, still today," Jones said in a statement Thursday. "Congress must safeguard these words in our nation's Pledge as a testament to the founding ideals that led our country to prosperity."
A press release issued by Jones' office says now is the proper time to introduce Resolution 108 because 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the phrase "under God" being added to the Pledge of Allegiance. The religious reference was not present in the original pledge, but added by law in 1954.
Jones also argues that two lawmakers native of Michigan pushed a Joint Resolution in 1953 urging President Dwight D. Eisenhower to make the pledge's religious reference a law. Eventually, President Eisenhower signed a law recognizing the amended pledge on Flag Day, June 14, 1954.
State Representative Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) will be introducing a similar version of the legislation to the state's House of Representatives. "The pledge of allegiance in its current form has a long and storied tradition in our country, having been recited by countless Americans," said Leonard. "I am proud of the work that lawmakers from Michigan did to make the Pledge what it is today and honored to commemorate this anniversary."
Michigan lawmakers have previously strived to ensure that the Pledge of Allegiance remains part of American culture. In September 2012, lawmakers passed a bill mandating that public schools in the state provide a certain amount of time each morning for students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Students were not required to say the pledge, and were not penalized if they chose not to participate.
Republican Sen. Roger Kahn, who introduced the bill, said in 2012 that giving the students an opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance was important in allowing them to express their love for their country. "Saying the pledge is a reminder of the sacrifices made by so many Americans over the generations," the senator said. Before the law was passed, Michigan was one of only seven states that didn't require students to say the pledge.