Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) “passionately loves both playing and watching the game of golf,” but he had trouble concentrating on the U.S. Open on Sunday. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) did as well.
“Sunday’s final round was unfortunately overshadowed and cheapened by something that had nothing to do with golf,” Renacci wrote in a letter to Mike Davis, executive director of the United States Golf Association.
What could overshadow one of the most exciting U.S. Opens in recent memory?
“NBC’s decision to air an intro video that featured the Pledge of Allegiance, but which glaringly omitted the words ‘under God,’” Renacci said in the letter.
Coats wrote a letter to the NBC Universal President and CEO Stephen Burke to express his “serious concern, and the concerns of the Hoosiers” regarding the network omitting the words “one nation, under God, indivisible.”
Renacci writes that whether the network meant to cut off the words is beside the point and that “silencing the name of God” did not go unnoticed.
For his part, Coats was concerned that the decision to “selectively edit the Pledge was made in the first place.” He asked the network to provide a full explanation about why the words were edited.
So why is this so important to these two lawmakers? Renacci explains: “Among the many freedoms that we cherish as Americans, [is] the right to practice religion freely — and the right not to practice at all ... God, religion and tolerance toward both are deeply entwined in our nation’s history.”
To omit the words “under God” undermines the nation, Renacci insists.
Interestingly, the words were not originally in the original Pledge of Allegiance, which was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and an Christian socialist.
Bellamy first published the pledge in the children’s magazine “The Youth’s Companion” as part of a promotion to sell flags to schoolhouses across the country. (Advertising win!)
The pledge was changed in 1924 to say “the flag of the United States of America.” Before that it just said “my flag.”
In 1953 it was changed again after a campaign by the Catholic group Knights of Columbus and 15 House resolutions to include the words “under God.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.