NBC edits God out

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Many of you might have heard, by now, of The National Broadcasting Company’s controversial telecast of the U.S. Open this past Sunday. The controversy did not include the golf tournament itself, but rather the opening video.

In my opinion as a Georgia native, the U.S. Open is not as prestigious as The Masters, nor is it as old as the British Open. It is, however, one of four annual golf tournaments deemed to be a “Major” by mystical golf authorities. I am not sure who gets to call a golf tournament a “Major,” but the U.S. Open is one of four with that distinction.

As a “Major” it is watched by millions of golf fans throughout the world. This year, its final round coincided with Father’s Day and, like many other fathers, I was going to watch some as I relaxed during the afternoon.

Email newsletter signup

Before I began to relax, though, I thought I would check email on my computer and browse the news articles a little. It’s one of my pastimes.

The first thing that got my attention was the headline “NBC apologizes for omitting God from the Pledge of Allegiance.” As a Christian who feels that our nation has been putting God to the side for a long time, much to our detriment, I was interested in the story. I also thought that this would be an example of someone making a mountain out of a molehill.

You know how news organizations do that don’t you? They make mountains out of molehills all the time. Then they tease us at the beginning of their telecasts with some statement that makes it sound like the world is coming to an end and they have the exclusive report on it. Details in just a moment, they tease. That moment lasts the entire hour. It’s very irritating.

The reason I thought that this would be an example of making a mountain out of a molehill was that I simply could not fathom a major television network being so brazen in their disrespect of the nation and of God as to actually omit the phrase “under God” out of our Pledge of Allegiance. Actually, I thought that it would be very stupid to do such a thing and I guess I gave the network too much credit.

The National Broadcasting Company was begun in 1926 and is considered America’s first major broadcasting network. NBC is iconic when it comes to broadcasting in America. It’s a big deal. It was originally owned in part by RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse. Now, it is owned mostly by General Electric.

So, this past Sunday, we had one of the most popular golf tournaments of the year on one of our national holidays being broadcast on one of the largest of the nation’s television networks. I will acknowledge that network television is not what it used to be, but, still, this was the premier sporting event of the day.

One of the most important parts of a book, a speech, a telecast, whatever, is the opening. Much time and effort goes into those first words or pictures of a book or telecast because we have always heard that first impressions are important. As they say “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

I have no doubt that many hours, perhaps hundreds, of discussion went into the planning of the opening video for NBC’s telecast of the U.S. Open. In addition, no expense would have been spared. It is not an understatement to say that a very bright and impressive team of producers and executives would have spent a lot of time and money to impress the audience as the U.S. Open on NBC began.

I have tried to emphasize the prestige of the event and the historical importance of the corporation that was producing the show for a reason. This was a major production and a lot was to be said.

NBC said this, “Our intent was to begin our coverage of this U.S. Open with a feature that captured the patriotism of our national championship being here in our nation’s capital for the third time.” They wanted to capture the patriotism of our country and the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag was a good place to start.

They chose to have a classroom of elementary students reciting the pledge. As they cut away from the children’s voices, they would show scenes of the Congressional Country Club course and scenes of Washington’s monuments. In addition, soldiers would raise the flag of the USA.

All of that would have been good except that a phrase that is part of the Pledge was omitted. As the short, two-word phrase was silenced, it was replaced by the sound of a command from the soldiers. Could it have been an innocuous, coincidental matter of style? In other words, the producers might have felt that it would enhance the opening. It was simply an innocent decision.

Here is a quote from NBC. “A portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in the feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone.”

What was this edited-out phrase that will be remembered even above the winner of the golf tournament? What did they omit from the pledge that caused the internet to light up with complaints? The phrase that they had omitted was “Under God.”

It is hard to accept that this omission was intentional. Have we gone so far down a road of political correctness that a major network felt that it could omit a reference to God and not be challenged? Thankfully, the challenge was immediate and the network felt the need to apologize during the telecast.

But even the apology was lukewarm. I have quoted some of the apology. NBC knew they had stepped in it, but could not bring themselves to name the omitted phrase. They simply said “a portion of the pledge.”

I hope that America will get back to its roots of faith.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”