On June 21st, 2010, Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics, a group I’ve been a part of for many years, put up our first billboard. After considering a couple of options, the group decided on a simple message that would coincide with July 4th.
The billboard simply reads “One Nation Indivisible” and is intended to spotlight the contradiction of placing “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. To quote Joseph Stewart, the person who came up with the concept: “When the words ‘under God’ were inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance between ‘one nation’ and ‘indivisible,’ they made a lie out of both those ideals because you can’t have an indivisible nation if you draw a line between the godly and godless. We all belong here.”.
Over the following weekend, one or more persons defaced the billboard by spray painting the words “under god” and an arrow pointing between “One Nation” and “Indivisible”. However, this stunt has seemed to have backfired as word of the vandalism spread, the story of the billboard grew even bigger than before and is now being covered by many more news outlets both National and International. This news coverage has also brought in a flood of new members to CAA. The crime has been reported to the police and a new billboard is expected to be installed before the 4th of July holiday.
Many people responding to the story (and even some news anchors) were not aware that the words “under God” did not actually appear in the original pledge of allegiance written in 1892. (They were added in 1954 in the midst of the McCarthy era and under the fear of Communism.)
I believe that our country can never truly achieve the pledge’s goal of “liberty and justice for all” until the separation of church and state that our founding Fathers conceived of is fully realized. Hopefully this small consciousness raising effort will help to plant a seed in those who see the billboard or read about it in the news.