Members of Congress push amendments to keep `under God' in pledge.


Members of the House of Representatives and Senate are busy introducing constitutional amendments that would permit public schools to sponsor recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase "under God."

Many members of Congress reacted with outrage June 26 when a federal appeals court in California ruled that the 1954 act of Congress inserting the words "under God" into the Pledge was unconstitutional. The ruling, which has been appealed, also held that school-sponsored recitation of the Pledge is unconstitutional because of its religious content.

In the days following the decision, several members vowed to sponsor constitutional amendments to protect the Pledge. Two months later, four have been introduced--three in the House and one in the Senate.

The most popular House vehicle is H.J. Res. 108, introduced by U.S. Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Picketing Jr. (R-Miss.) and 10 other Republicans. It contains two sections, the first stating the First Amendment shall not be interpreted to "prohibit the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag" and the second permitting the "recitation or use of the national-motto, which shall be, `In God we trust.'"

The measure was introduced July 25. Its co-sponsors included Reps. Joseph Pitts (Pa.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Robin Hayes (N.C.), J.C. Watts (Okla.), Charlie Norwood (Ga.), Zach Wamp (Tenn.), Henry E. Brown Jr. (S.C.), John Thune (S.D.), Kevin Brady (Texas) and Michael G. Oxley (Ohio).

Two other House measures avoid the national motto issue and deal strictly with the Pledge. Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.) put forward an amendment (H.J. Res. 104) stating that it is not "an establishment of religion" for teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Texas Democrat Rep. Gene Green's version (H.J. Res. 103) states, "Nothing in the first amendment to this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance...."


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