The controversy over using the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance has special significance for Tom Rabaut of Great Falls.
It was his grandfather, Louis C. Rabaut, who wrote the bill to insert the language into the Pledge, says Sheila Rabaut, Tom’s wife.
After the story broke last week about the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the phrase as a violation of church and state, Rabaut was interviewed on National Public Radio, she said.
Her husband’s grandfather was Louis C. Rabaut, a Democratic Congressman from the 14th District in Michigan who served in Congress for 25 years and died in office.
“He wrote the bill that was passed, and President Eisenhower signed it,” she said. “I know that he was very, very proud” of his contribution and celebrated its anniversary at his Congressional office every year.
Rabaut questions whether her husband’s grandfather had political intentions when he wrote the two controversial words into the pledge.
“I don’t know that it had anything to do with that,” she said.
“He was a very religious man. One [of his] son[s] became a Jesuit priest, and three daughters went into a convent,” she said. “They used to call him ‘the choir boy of the White House.’
“The idea, it was so political, does not sound like the family to me.”
Her own feeling is that the phrase should stay.
“Actually, we do have separation of church and state. I don’t know that it’s really right, but I sure would hate to see it go,” said Rabaut.
“I think it’s really too bad. They keep talking on the radio about what if it was ‘under Allah,’ or ‘under Buddha,’ and I thought to myself, ‘it is.’
“It is a generic name for the being that created us,” said Rabaut. “It could be any religion. It’s universal. It’s for everybody.”
Tom Rabaut, the grandson of Louis, is CEO for United Defense, the manufacturer of the Bradley armored personnel carrier and other military products for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
They are parishioners at St. Thomas a Becket Catholic Church in Reston.