“Under God…or Not,” New York Times Book Review, October 15, 2010

Today’s conservatives often describe themselves as strict constructionists, seeking the “original meaning” of the nation’s founding texts. In the case of the Pledge of Allegiance, a much ­fetishized if not legally binding document, this approach is unlikely to yield the desired political result. As Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer note, the original author of the pledge was a former Christian Socialist minister who hoped to redeem the United States from its class and ethnic antagonisms. Interpretations of its meaning have been growing more conservative, not more liberal, ever since.

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