How Did Catholics Get ‘Under God’ into the Pledge of Allegiance?

Katie Yoder   By Katie Yoder for CNA

American Flag. / Kim Hill via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0) filter added.

Washington D.C., Jul 5, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The Pledge of Allegiance didn’t always include the words “under God.”

When it was first composed, the pledge made no reference to God at all. Instead, in 1893, Americans recited “. . . one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The wording stayed that way for more than 60 years – until the Knights of Columbus intervened.

A Catholic fraternal organization founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus today represent a worldwide financial and charitable organization. Because of their efforts, “under God” became a central part of the pledge as Americans know it today.

“The Knights of Columbus board of directors passed a resolution asking that the United States adopt ‘under God’ into the Pledge of Allegiance,” the head of the Knights, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, explained to EWTN News In Depth on July 2.

At the time, the Knights had already begun adding “under God” into the pledge at their meetings. After they passed the resolution, they sent it “to policymakers, to the House and to the Senate, and to the Eisenhower administration,” Kelly said.

Lawmakers embraced the change and agreed to amend the pledge. And, with the signature of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Flag Day in 1954, “under God” was inserted.

The president expressed his gratitude to the Knights in a letter to the supreme knight at the time, Luke E. Hart.

“These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble,” he urged. “They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.”

The Knights support this message today.

“Our rights – our human rights – come from the Lord,” Kelly urged. “It comes from God and the state can’t take these rights away.”

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 9796 Articles
Catholic News Agency (


  1. The phrase “under God” summarizes well what George Washington, way back when, already said in his public prayer for the United States:

    “Almighty God; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government. . . . And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose to all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

  2. The pledge is an endorsement of American Empire, union by coercion. Catholics should have been working to resist its spread, but instead they were assimilated into it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.