Did the Congresswoman Say ‘Under God’ in the Pledge? October 27, 2010

Did the Congresswoman Say ‘Under God’ in the Pledge?

Betty McCollum is a Democrat running for re-election in Minnesota’s 4th congressional district.

It looks like she’s going to win her seat back, but not before a last-second attack from her opponent.

The attacks comes courtesy of an 8-year-old video of McCollum leading the Pledge of Allegiance in the House of Representatives.

It turns out she leaves the words “Under God” out of the Pledge.

Was that on purpose or just a case of nerves?

You be the judge:

The Republicans were on her case because omitting those words is obviously a good enough reason not to vote for her.

Yesterday, McCollum’s staff responded with this statement:

Congresswoman Betty McCollum honors and respects the Pledge of Allegiance and believes the United States is one Nation under God. She has led the Pledge of Allegiance on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives numerous times as can be seen in these video links.

Conservatives are using an eight year old video clip to incite hate, racism, and intolerance among Tea Party Republicans. This right-wing effort to call into question Congresswoman McCollum’s Christian faith, her belief in God, and her patriotism is blatantly anti-American and all too similar to the extremists who earlier this year mailed a soiled American flag to her Congressional office and threatened the Congresswoman with violence.

Congresswoman McCollum rejects this radical agenda and condemns the extremist tactics behind this poisonous political exploitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

So what happened? I see two possibilities:

1) She meant to say “Under God” but just messed up — she forgot the line, took a breath, etc.

2) She intentionally skipped the phrase at the time but is now backtracking.

I don’t know which option is worse.

For what it’s worth, McCollum is a Catholic. And when she says the Pledge on other occasions, she does include the “Under God” phrase.

But right-wingers don’t seem to care about that:

Staffers said McCollum’s office has been inundated with outraged phone calls and e-mails today…

McCollum’s office also reported several profanity-laced phone calls and at least one profanity-laced death-threat letter — containing disturbing imagery and rhetoric — so far today, following the re-emergence of the video.

It would’ve been great to hear McCollum say she omitted the words on purpose and here’s the reason why… but that’s pretty much out of the question in this political climate.


One day, right…?

(Thanks to Pat for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • if she loses, this would suck big time ….

  • I hope she learns something from all this. Like how religion in government causes problems, even for the people who want it there!

  • Tim

    If she believes this is “one nation under god,” I’m not sure I want her reelected anyway…but it’s the lesser of two evils, I suppose. I’d rather have a religious liberal than a religious conservative any day.

  • So four years ago she took a breath or swallowed or something rather than said “undergod” and now the right are slating her for it. Pretty weak. I guess they have no problem with her voting record, policies or actions as a congresswoman then.

  • I appreciate her condemnation of the “poisonous political exploitation of the Pledge of Allegiance,” but couldn’t someone just once make that condemnation without first falling all over themselves to state that they believe the USA is “one nation under God”? Can’t someone just say, “this is a stupid non-issue and I won’t dignify it with a response”?

  • Luther

    Oh my. Next we will hear condemnation of our Founders for omitting God and Jesus from the Constitution. How about an honest compromise?

    One Nation, under educated…

  • SecularLez

    Wow. Death threats. There’s just SOOOO much maturity in the political season. /sarcasm

  • She merely said the pledge the way it was during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations — before the Republicans screwed it up during the Eisenhower administration.

  • stogoe

    One day, right…?

    Fat chance. America is a banana republic already, and it continues to spiral further and further down towards fascist chaos. The Teabaggin’ Brownshirts are on the march, kidnapping journalists and curb-stomping those with differing opinions.

  • muggle

    In our dreams Everyday Atheist.

    Frankly, I think it was number 2. Just because she’s Christian doesn’t mean she doesn’t realize how wrong it is for that to be there and that’s kind of a biggie in Religious Reich controlled America to leave out even if you’re behind everyone. But now she has to recant to survive to fight another day. And would you rather that or she be run out on a rail just for this imagined slight?

    Of course, I’m not inside her head so I don’t really know and that may be wishful thinking on my part.

    Whyever in hell she didn’t say it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it should be a nonissue and instead it started a hate campaign against her. She’s up for re-election you say? Methinks her opponent bears looking at suspiciously. If not him (yeah, right), the Republican Party.

    She must have been doing pretty damned good in the polls for them to dig this hard and to blow this mole hill up into a mountain.

    God (pun intended), I hope to hell (again, pun intended) she wins the election and I don’t even know her platform. It’s just too damned scary to have something this nonsensical deciding the outcome of an election.

  • Some days I think America is full of progress and we’re heading towards total WIN. Then, I read something like this. I realize it’s naive to think that political bullying between candidates will ever stop. But, do the people making these violent threats and leaving these profane messages really think that is a positive way to deal with things that they disagree about? GROW UP.

  • McCollum’s office also reported several profanity-laced phone calls and at least one profanity-laced death-threat letter — containing disturbing imagery and rhetoric — so far today, following the re-emergence of the video.


  • Fundie Troll

    Messed up? Hardly, it’s obvious that she deliberately left out “under God”. My problem with the “Religious Reich” (good one Muggle) is this: why are professing Christians pledging allegiance to a nation in the first place? And more importantly, WHICH God is this nation supposedly under? And why are they threatening this woman with profanity if they are professing Christians??

    Also, the problem with politics is that there is no room for personal integrity. Everything is driven by public opinion, and public opinion is so easily manipulated by the media. I hold my nose when I go to the polls because I believe that in many cases I am merely voting for the lesser of two evils, not the most qualified candidate…

  • JD

    Lame. Is this election about the issues or not? “Under God” was added around the time of the McCarthy era anyway, so it’s almost appropriate that her opponents have turned this into a “witchhunt” as it were, you can’t convince people based on existing voting record or positions, you go after her with a weird sideshow attack.

  • Rieux

    McCollum’s district is the second-bluest in Minnesota, a fairly blue state. She represents urban St. Paul and a few inner-ring suburbs. (The bluest district in the state is next door, in Minneapolis—and that one’s represented by Keith Ellison, a Muslim.) St. Paul is probably too Catholic to elect an atheist to Congress right now, but check back in a decade or so; when it starts happening outside of Pete Stark’s Berkeley, it’s districts like this one where it will be possible.

    There’s no way McCollum loses next week. Nate Silver gives her a 99.8% chance of victory (which probably helps explain her opponent’s desperation) and projects that she’ll win by 27 points.

    Don’t worry.

  • Well this just shows that the “tea party movement” is really a fraud. If the Tea party candidates really cared about the constitution, they should be the ones not saying “under god” in the pledge instead of trying to stir up emotions over someone else omitting that phrase. They are just the religiously motivated right-wing of the republican party re-branded.

  • Synapse

    McCollum’s office also reported several profanity-laced phone calls and at least one profanity-laced death-threat letter — containing disturbing imagery and rhetoric — so far today, following the re-emergence of the video.


    WWJSPLDTLWho Would Jesus Send a Profanity-Laced Death-Threat Letter?

  • Dusty

    You’re right, Hemant. One day…

  • This reeks of desperation on her opponent’s part. Do these fools realize that phrase wasn’t even in the Pledge until we decided that Religion was one of the ways we could distinguish ourselves from the Godless Commies and the Eisenhower Administration inserted it?

    You’re right though, one day we will have a Congressperson who, when asked about his Faith, will be able to say “I don’t believe in that stuff. Next question.” One day.

  • Hitch

    It’s a stupid non-issue that shouldn’t be dignified. But then again almost all of our election discourse is over non-issues that shouldn’t be dignified.

    As long as the electorate doesn’t mature out of responding to smears and demagoguery we’ll have smears and demagoguery as part of election campaigns.

  • It’s nice to see people focused on what’s important in our elected officials. I mean, without professed belief in a fictional sky-fairy, how effective could a representative really be?

  • Peter Mahoney

    I think that those of us who post our comments here (speaking here mostly to other nonbelievers) should also post our viewpoints on the associated YouTube videos, online blogs, online newspapers that allow reader comments, letters to editors, etc.

    You can search Google News for the words atheist or atheism, and every time there is an article in some local newspaper somewhere, with believers painting their skewed views of atheists, it would be great to see a barrage of respectful but firm comments letting them know who we really are and that we are here.

  • Lisa

    There’s no better way to show the love of Christ than by threatening someone’s life with profanities.

    Ahh, religion.

  • Miko

    Okay, I know that politicians are so used to saying stupid things that they don’t even think about it, but seriously: how does a clip of her not saying “under God” incite racism?

  • Dan W

    You know, one of these days I’d like to see a politician accused of this turn out to actually be against those two words in the Pledge.

    As far as we know, the only atheist in Congress who’s open about it is Pete Stark. I’m hoping that he’s not the only one, and if there are others I hope they’ll be willing to be open about their atheism sometime soon. I’d also like to see things like whether a politician said “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or not be less important in elections.

    Oh, and while I’m wishing for things, I’d also like a real lightsaber.

  • Jonas

    My guess is she took a breath at that point, minor flub — Hey Obama flubbed his Oath the first time, remember :_)

    If she were brave enough to modify her statement to – I personally believe this is One Nation Under God, but also acknowledge those who may not have that belief. But no this was an honest mistake, breath at the wrong moment etc, and I usually recite the entire pledge when asked to lead it.

  • Peter Mahoney is SPOT ON! The “One day…” Hemant pines for will not arrive unless we all publicly, at our local sphere of influence, stand up against the bullies.

    Come out. Stand up. Say “No more.” I’m not sitting at the back of the bus. I am not staying in the closet, and you can no longer dehumanize atheists (grossly or subtly) without facing opposition.

    Do I walk the walk? See here…

  • AxeGrrl

    Luther wrote:

    One Nation, under educated…

    *bumper sticker-worthy*

  • muggle

    Thanks, Troll, but I can’t claim credit. I picked it up from the internet and can’t even say where at this point as I’ve been using it for years.

    Your questions are excellent and I’d be asking them if I were Christian. This is why I like Charles Dickens so well. Because we both hate hypocrites. Well, that and he’s also an excellent story teller.

  • Norm

    I live in her district (which, interestingly, borders Michelle Bachmann’s, I could walk to it if I wanted) and just sent her an e-mail about this. Thanks for bringing the matter to my attention. Her re-election is all but assured since St. Paul is as blue as they come, so I wished she had shown a bit more backbone to defend the Constitution.

  • Kayla

    So because she left out “Under God”, Christians are sending her profanity-laden messages and even a profanity-laden death threat? Wow.

  • big ed

    I was in school when they added “under god”. I tripped over it for years. Really though, for a country that supposedly separates religion and state, aren’t those two words pretty “unamerican” (as Joseph McCarthy might have put it)? Makes you wonder just who is a “real American”, doesn’t it?

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