Pastor Who Helped Get “Under God” in Pledge Dies

Rev. George M. Docherty, whose sermon before President Dwight Eisenhower helped push Congress to insert the words “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, has died. He was 97. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Docherty moved to the United States in 1950 to become pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He was unfamiliar with the Pledge until he heard it recited by his seven-year-old son, Garth. “I came from Scotland, where we said ‘God save our gracious queen,’ ‘God save our gracious king.’ Here was the Pledge of Allegiance, and God wasn’t in it at all.” Docherty then wrote and delivered a sermon, which said that the Pledge should acknowledge God. A 1953 bill went nowhere, but two years later, after learning that Eisenhower would be in the congregation, Docherty decided to deliver the sermon again, hoping it would inspire the president. The next day, Rep. Charles G. Oakman (R-Mich.) introduced a bill to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge. A companion bill was then introduced in the Senate. Eisenhower signed the new law on Flag Day.

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