Local Knights of Columbus React to Pledge Controversy

Should the words "under God" be left in the Pledge of Allegiance? That's what the United States Supreme Court is trying to decide. The California atheist Michael Newdow took his case to the high court yesterday, arguing on his nine-year-old daughter's behalf. Newdow said the words "under God" are offensive to people who don't believe in God.

His ex-wife, Sandra Banning, disagrees. "We should be proud of our heritage and proud of our history and not succumb to popular culture," she said.

"I am a parent. I have an absolute right to know that when my child goes into the public schools, she is not going to be indoctrinated with any religious dogma," said Newdow. "I'm not asking for them to say there is no God. I want government to stay out of the religion business."

Newdow says he's not asking to stipulate that there is no God, just not to force everyone to believe in the same God. The Supreme Court's expected to hand down its ruling by summer.

The government added the phrase "under God" to the pledge in 1954. The idea was brought about by the Knights of Columbus. Now, Savannah Knights have plenty to say about the pledge debate. We spoke with some of the men who remember the change, and they presented a united front when it comes to taking "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Their stance is very clear: they like the pledge just the way it is.

The pledge was the talk of the Knights of Columbus Council 5558's Wednesday social. Val Davis remembers back in 1954 when the words were added at the urging of the Knights of Columbus nationwide. Now, he has some harsh words for the California man trying to have the phrase removed. "He's atheist, he just wants attention," Davis said.

The Knights argue the word God is used in many everyday things, including money. Their point is, why change it now?

"I wasn't around in 1954, but I think it needs to stay," said Grand Knight Tony Jones. He says the pledge, in its entirety, is a sign of unity.

Like many school children, the Knights have a routine. "Everything we do, every meeting, there's a Pledge of Allegiance," said Jones.

It's a routine, like going to church on Sunday, which Val Davis believes should not be disrupted. "That's what the world was built on," he said.

Local schools we spoke with say students still recite the pledge every morning in its entirety. Some area principals say they see no problem with it and they'll wait for the ruling from the Supreme Court.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com