LITTLE FALLS - A new flag is flying on one of the municipal building's three flagpoles these days..
With little fanfare, the Township Committee declared its support for the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance by agreeing to fly a pennant emblazoned with the words below the building's American flag. The municipality also flies a New Jersey state flag and a black MIA/POW flag outside the building. .
"This is not about religion," said Mike Vaclavicek, a member of the Little Falls Knights of Columbus, the group that donated the pennant to the township. "This is about God. We are the silent majority, and that's the problem."
EAST HANOVER -- The local school board Wednesday defended its decision to fly "One Nation Under God" pennants beneath U.S. flags at the district's schools and administration building, saying they were following the lead of the East Hanover township council.
The township council voted unanimously April 15 to fly the small, white pennants on all municipal flagpoles in support of the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance whose constitutionality is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The school board Monday voted 4-3 to add the pennants to flagpoles in front of Frank J. Smith, Central and East Hanover Middle schools, as well as the district administrative offices on School Avenue.
Voting in favor of flying the pennants were school board President Frank Verducci, Vice President Michael Pichowicz, and members Michael Gibbons and Lisa Krueger. Members Sean Sullivan, Frank Hoffman and Catherine Pfund-Olsen voted against the measure.
Bishop John M. Smith and Knights of Columbus State Deputy James A. White display a pennant declaring “One Nation Under God” which is being distributed by Knights of Columbus councils throughout the state. The national organization was involved in initially promoting the insertion of the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. The goal of the State Council is to show grassroots support for keeping the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance. Members throughout the state are pressing the campaign with local municipal officials, asking them to fly the pennant under the American Flag on flagpoles outside municipal offices, said White.
The following councils have the Pennant “One Nation Under God” flying over their City Halls:
County Council City Bergen 2188 Westwood 5427 Washington Twp. Union 4504 Union Middlesex 2061 Sayreville 8478 Parlin/Old Bridge Hudson 6209 Union City 6928 Kearny Mercer 6213/7677 Hamilton Camden 1443 Haddon Heights 10220 Somers Point
In 1964, for example, following a decision of the US Supreme Court that group prayers in public schools were unconstitutional, religious organizations in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut started a campaign to fly a pennant inscribed One Nation Under God above the Stars and Stripes. The Knights of Columbus and the Holy Name Society of the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church were successful in getting not only private homes and businesses to fly that pennant but also a number of public buildings. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Americans for Democratic Action, and a number of Jewish and Unitarian groups resisted use of the pennant on public buildings under the same provision of the US Constitution which had been cited by the Supreme Court in the school prayer cases -- the First Amendment prohibition of state-promoted religion. In rejoinder Mayor John Knowlan of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, stated that:
The pennant is a reminder that we have Almighty God looking out for our national welfare. It is in the Declaration of Independence, it is in the flag salute, it is part of the history and tradition of our country. This is not a specific religion. The great things in our history have been done acknowledging God.