Sunday, March 28, 2004

March 28, 2004

3:59 PM Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Mary Jane Slocum and Hans Svebakken. Mary Jane told me the happy news this morning. She and Hans plan to be married in June. 3:42 PM Fascinating article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times about the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance. Last week the Supreme Court heard a challenge from an atheist who wants to see the phrase declared unconstitutional and removed from the Pledge. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge in 1954, in response to a national movement that started in … Oak Park! Read the article—it’s all there. But there are more connections. The article begins this way:

Oak Park lawyer and civic leader Louis A. Bowman has been dead and largely forgotten for decades, but the words he is said to have first publicly uttered here more than half a century ago are echoing still. It was on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1948 that Bowman led a group of fellow Sons of the American Revolution in the Pledge of Allegiance, for the first time inserting the words “under God.”

But that’s not all. Mr. Bowman was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park, which doesn’t exist any more because it merged with the First Congregational Church in 1977 to form the First United Church of Oak Park. And who inhabits the buildings of the former First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park? We do! That’s right—Calvary began meeting in the First Pres buildings in 1977 when our church building on Madison Street burned down. You can still see part of the words “First Presbyterian Church” in the limestone on the northeastern corner of the sanctuary by Lake Street and east parking long. Mr. Bowman took his inspiration for adding the phrase “under God” from the words of Abraham Lincoln who spoke of “this nation under God” in the closing lines of the Gettysburg Address. One further Calvary connection: Ken Sadler told me about the Oak Park roots of the “under God” phrase months ago. When I saw Ken this morning, he told me that he had been one of the sources for the Sun-Times article.

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