NBC apology on Pledge of Allegiance doesn't satisfy Family Research Council
June 23rd, 2011
12:06 PM ET

NBC apology on Pledge of Allegiance doesn't satisfy Family Research Council

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Apology not accepted.

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian advocacy group, is turning up the heat on NBC after it edited out "under God, indivisible" - twice - during a taped piece of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as part of last weekend's final round coverage of the U.S. Open Golf Championship.

The group wants to see the pledge recited on NBC, in its entirety, daily.

The criticism on social media over the golf gaffe came fast enough that NBC issued an on-air apology Sunday a few hours later during its coverage.

NBC lead golf commentator Dan Hicks told the audience, "Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone, and we'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it."

On Monday, NBCUniversal Sports issued a second apology from Chris McCloskey, its vice president of communications.

He said in part, that a "decision was made by a small group of people to edit portions of the Pledge of Allegiance. This was a bad decision." And he again apologized if the deliberate omission upset anyone.

But that did not satisfy the Family Research Council.

Now the council is urging its members to contact NBC and demand the network play a public service announcement featuring the Pledge of Allegiance, in its entirety, daily.

"NBC must remedy this abuse by airing a series of public service announcement(s) with the entire Pledge of Allegiance," read an e-mail blast sent Tuesday from council President Tony Perkins.

"Please join me in contacting NBC and demanding that the network air a daily public service announcement with the entire Pledge of Allegiance."

The Washington-based Family Research Council says its mission is to advance "faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion." The group is best known for its strong objections to same-sex marriage and abortion. It's a powerful political force among conservative evangelicals.

"This is something that people, they get and they're upset about it," Perkins told CNN. "We know that 15,000 people have already sent e-mails to NBC. Based on the calls I got this morning, this is something people are incensed over."

Perkins said he did not watch the event live. He said he is not a big golf fan but was alerted to the omission quickly. He said he found the use of military images with the pledge omission particularly galling. "As a veteran I stood for the pledge and I stood for all of the pledge," the retired Marine said.

"These types of things need to be met with significant resistance," he said when asked if his group was leveraging this controversy for its own gain. "It's not up to NBC to change the pledge of the United States of America."

The phrase "under God" was not always in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, a former Baptist minister who had left the pulpit and was working at a magazine, Youth's Companion. The magazine was putting together a nationwide celebration to honor Columbus discovering the New World. The pledge was expressly patriotic according to author and political scientist Richard Ellis in "To the Flag: The Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance."

The pledge and the protocol for the pledge did not make it into U.S. law until June 22, 1942.

The phrase "under God" was added in 1954. Rep Louis Rabaut, D-Michigan, offered an amendment to add the phrase to the pledge. It was a homage to President Abraham Lincoln who had famously used it in the Gettysburg Address.

Rabaut testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 1954 why he thought it should be added because, "By the addition of the phrase 'Under God' to the pledge the consciousness of the American people will be more alerted to the true meaning of our country and its form of government," he said.

"In this full awareness we will, I believe, be strengthened for the conflict now facing us and more determined to preserve our precious heritage."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day in 1954.

The pledge has been challenged in court, in particular the fact that children are instructed to recite it in public schools. Plaintiffs have argued that infringed on a student's First Amendment rights, citing the establishment clause, commonly referred to as "the separation of church and state."

The Supreme Court ruled the phrase was constitutional in 2004.

In that decision, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in a concurring opinion, "Whatever the sectarian ends its authors may have had in mind, our continued repetition of the reference to 'one Nation under God' in an exclusively patriotic context has shaped the cultural significance of that phrase to conform to that context. Any religious freight the words may have been meant to carry originally has long since been lost."

Perkins said in addition to the public service announcement of a daily Pledge of Allegiance he said he would also like to see NBC produce a program explaining the history of the pledge and why "under God" was inserted in the first place.

NBC hasn't responded to Perkins about his requests.  A spokesman for the network declined to comment further on the matter.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • TV

soundoff (827 Responses)

    ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PERIOD

    June 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Nathan L

      I don't find the words of your post compelling in any way, but wait you put it in all caps so it must be true.


      June 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  2. Nate DeMontigny

    the original Pledge, written by Francis Bellamy, reads "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." It wasn't until 1954 that the words "under god" were added. Many, and I mean MANY, people have it wrong. It was not our founding fathers who added this, but some religious zealots. The US is a melting pot of races, faiths and more. The words "under god" have no bearing on these shores anymore. We've got Christians, HIndus, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Bahai's, Native American Shamanism, Judaism, Sikkhism and Atheism. I'm sure I've left out a few, my apologies to those that I didn't list. The fact of the matter is, the pledge, as is, has no bearing on our society as it stands right now. We should drop the "under god" part and rather than create division, we should be inclusive and bring everyone together. But, maybe I'm just being a bit more optimistic than I should be.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  3. matt

    Playing the pledge daily, making kids say them in school...where ever there is artificially induced patriotism... there can be no guarantee of true allegiance. Even demons can mimic words and gestures. If anyone wishes to increase patriotism in any nation, let them start with themselves and say the pledge of their nation in their own hearts in private. Thus a rock solid foundation is assured and no invader can destroy that.

    Just as prayer and religion becomes and exercise in vanity and pride when it devolved into a public spectacle with pageantry on televangelist channels, so too does forcing the pledge on public air waves devolve in to merely a public exercise in prideful vanity...empty, vain, and devoid of true patriotism.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Nero

      Amen Brother! (-:

      June 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • twolfhound

      And where I agree with your sentiment, the bigger problem isn't that this is for 'patriotism'. No, it's to instill 'religious doctrine' into our media. What these organizations seem to fail to realize (or care about) is that the majority of us don't subscribe to their beliefs and have no desire to see it plastered all over the place. But, in their minds, this makes us uncivilized heathens. For some reason, I'm fine with that.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • gozer

      Prayer and religion are always "an exercise in vanity and pride", at best.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • I_get _it

      Take a look at the pictures of some school children reciting the pledge (as it was originated) on this page:


      You most probably will get a very strange feeling about it...

      p.s. Altering that particular salute hasn't changed the mood that it engenders.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  4. Sean

    I've know since I was very young that I didn't believe in go and in school I would not say the words "Under God". Atheists are constantly bombarded with religious crap and ridiculed because we refuse to buy into the hype. When will the rest of the world learn Atheist Know Better (AKB)!

    Thank you NBC.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • matt

      While I lean on the side of atheism, I hardly agree that atheist know any better than the religious zealots about life or the nature of existence. Atheists have science. Religious zealots have their religion, based on speculation and hearsay. Both are inadequate tools to fully grasp reality...even if science is a bit more methodical and precise than religion, science alone is inadequate.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Eric G

      @Matt: I disagree with your comment. "Atheists have science. Religious zealots have their religion, based on speculation and hearsay. Both are inadequate tools to fully grasp reality...even if science is a bit more methodical and precise than religion, science alone is inadequate."

      Science is a method used to verify evidence to support or refute a hypothesis. Science makes no claims without evidencial support. Religion makes claims of certainty without any verifiable evidencial support.

      To imply that science alone is inadequate to grasp reality implies that one can insert their religious belief where there understanding of verified evidence ends. That is intellectually dishonest.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Docjay

      I find in all blogs that whenever God/Jesus is mentioned, atheist come out of the woodwork to denounce the existence of God just to ease their own conscience that what they believe is right. Fortunately, this country gives them that right. Unfortunately, the final truth and judgment will only be revealed when Jesus returns for his people. I believe the light of Christ reveals the secret sins of man and atheist run from the light and criticize those who put their faith in a higher power. I also resent atheist calling all Christians haters and intolerant. I admit I am not perfect but at least I am trying to live a more loving and forgiving life.
      Now watch the real haters come out and destroy this posting...

      June 24, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • gozer

      Yes, Docjay, we hate you and we can't wait to persecute you for believing in your moldy dead guy on his rotted pieces of wood.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Docjay

      Thank you gozer for proving my point...God loves even you..

      By the way, I was like you before. Hated everything about religion. Only God can change a hardened heart.

      June 24, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  5. Dan

    Sorry. NBC got it exactly right. Whatever your religion, it doesn't belong there in the first place. Thank you NBC.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:58 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      I can't find the original posting of this from last evening to "give credit where credit is due", but if you paste in :
      it will take you to a FRC page and you can alter their suggested message and send an email to NBC telling them they
      should ignore the FRC.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  6. MJ

    The inclusion of this phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance flies in the face of the very principle on which this great country of ours was created...freedom from religious persecution by creating a secular nation where there is clear and distinct separation of church and state. I applaud NBC for having the courage (or at least someone at NBC) for bringing this issue to the forefront. Inclusion of this phrase in our Pledge of Allegance is nothing short of brainwashing for our children to make them feel they must believe in god. Belief in god is a right we enjoy in this country and shouldn't be imposed or supported by our government...separation of church and state.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  7. Bill

    The Washington-based Family Research Council says its mission is to advance "faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion." Oops, guess somebody forgot about the "freedom" thing.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • LeeCMH

      They consider it a limit to their (Christians') freedom when they cannot tell everyone else how to live, even with the force of government.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • twolfhound

      It's those three in that order... Faith taking highest priority and freedom holding least.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    I couldnt figure out what was wrong with this country,but after reading some of these posts i figured it out,alot of you people have taken THE GOOD LORD AND SAVIOUR OUT OF YOUR LIFE! I WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THIS COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Atom Spectre

      We are all born atheists.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:57 am |
      • susie


        September 5, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          You didn't know of a god until your family introduced you – that's why the majority of believers have the same religion as their family or local culture.

          September 5, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Guess what?

      There never was any "GOOD LORD AND SAVIOR" in my life, so it is not possible for me to have taken him out.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
      • susie


        September 5, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Nero

      Actually you are what's wrong with this country. Your inability to accept people for who they are. Your intolerance for people that don't believe the same as you. I don't mind you believing in a fairy tale (the bible), so you shouldn't mind me not believing it.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • JT

      You continue to pray for the country and the rest of us will continue to think for the country.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Guess what?

      @JT: you win one Intarwebz!

      June 24, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  9. Atom Spectre

    Good for NBC for restoring the pledge before it was hijacked for the cold war. Our nation is not, and never should be "under any god", save that crazy stuff for the middle east.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  10. LeeCMH

    Tony Perkins is connected with David Duke of the KKK. Got the picture?

    June 24, 2011 at 7:54 am |


    June 24, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • LeeCMH

      "Under God" was added to the Pledge in the 1050s. Even through World War II, there was no God in the pledge. No so long-term "historical."

      June 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Nero

      Move to the middle east you religious fanatic!

      June 24, 2011 at 8:04 am |

    The GOOD LORD will comfort us in these trying times,in JESUS name , AMEN.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:50 am |

      Yea, but Jesus leaves before the ninth and we need a closer

      June 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Guess what?

      False comfort is not worth having.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  13. Alex Lifeson

    Damn lunatics! Good for NBC for eliminating 'under God'! GOOD FOR THEM! It should be off our currency too.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  14. Maxine

    I wholeheartedly approve. I never say that phrase when I speak the Pledge, as it was not part of the original Pledge, but was added at a later date (probably political pandering pandering to the christian wrong). These people need to disabuse themsselves of the notion that this is a christian nation. IT IS NOT! and it was never intended to be. The Founders they so respect in matters of gun ownership and small government also warned explicitly against letting religion into government. These people are the American Taliban and I hope NBC stands up and explains to them exactly where it is that the sun doesn't shine and then follows up with instructions on how to insert their demands.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  15. Henry

    Chill, Mr. Perkins, chill. I would appreciate the request (demand) if it came from someone other than you, the phony Christian. Mistake by NBC, pandering by the family research council.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  16. Mel Johnson

    The FRC should take scripture more seriously, and render to Caesar those things that are Caesar's and to God, those things that are God's and not mix the two things up.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  17. MJ

    Good for you NBC ! Don't knuckle under to these knuckle heads. Seperation of god and state people – ever heard of it ?

    June 24, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  18. PaddyReagan

    The Family Research Council should change its name to something less slippery. Maybe "GOD–MY WAY" would work. My message to these Whites in Knight Satin: Stop wrapping yourself in liberty and freedom of speech while you support laws that dictate what others must say.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  19. Mark

    Its great to see Americans speak up.

    The article spent the time with the history of the writing of the pledge. I think the issue was otherwise. The issue is that it is not the networks job to police the pledge for the rest of us.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • ZJ

      So is it Congress" job to add religion to the pledge?

      June 24, 2011 at 7:56 am |
  20. wallye

    For all the responses here approving the abridged version of the pledge there are many, many more who disapprove what NBC did. Why do you think NBC and MSNBC's rating are in the gutter?

    June 24, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Guess what?

      What is right is often not popular. What is popular is often not right.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Henry

      Oh, please. Each time there is a stupid issue like this one that involves NBC or MSNBC the "wallye's" of the world trot out the old things about rating. Darned "lamestream" media, eh!

      June 24, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Margroks

      I disagree. I don't know anyone who thinks the pledge is of any consequence whatsoever. It was invented as a marketing ploy to sell flags to schools! It's nothing and should be dropped completely. The whole thing is nonsense.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:53 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.