Under God a Knights Legacy

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Did you know that the Knights of Columbus was instrumental in having the words “under God” added to our nations Pledge of Allegiance? Here is how the words “under God” came to be added to the pledge.This week we celebrate Flag Day. The original Pledge of Allegiance of the United States was written in August 1892, by the Baptist minister Francis Bellamy. Published the next month and recited in schools on Columbus Day, this Pledge initially did not contain a reference to God. In 1942, Congress officially recognized the U.S. Pledge, which had undergone some wording changes over the years, but still omitted a reference to God.

Knights of Columbus Under God

Pledge of Allegiance


How The Words “UNDER GOD” Came to be Added to the Pledge of Allegiance



In 1951, the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, began including the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In New York City, on April 30, 1951, the board of directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the text of their Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by addition of the words “under God” after the words “one nation.”

Over the next two years, the idea spread throughout Knights of Columbus organizations nationwide. On August 21, 1952, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus at its annual meeting adopted a resolution urging that the change be made universal, and copies of this resolution were sent to the President, the Vice President (as Presiding Officer of the Senate), and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The National Fraternal Congress meeting in Boston on September 24, 1952, adopted a similar resolution upon the recommendation of its president, Supreme Knight Luke E. Hart. Several State Fraternal Congresses acted likewise almost immediately thereafter. This campaign led to several official attempts to prompt Congress to adopt the Knights of Columbus policy for the entire nation. These attempts were eventually a success. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed the congressional resolution that amended the Pledge to include the words “under God”.

In a letter dated Aug. 6 of the same year, President Eisenhower formally thanked the Order: “And this year we are particularly thankful to you for your part in the movement to have the words ‘under God’ added to our Pledge of Allegiance. These words will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. 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.”

There have been many attempts since then to attack including “under God” in the pledge.  We must remain vigilant: In a statement, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson underscored the Order’s dedication to God and country, in the past and in the future: “If necessary, once again the Knights will do all we can to see that the Pledge of Allegiance remains as is.”

Download Knights of Columbus Flyer (pledgeAllegiance.pdf)