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Congressman Sends Mixed Signals on Pledge

Every day the House is in session, one member leads the chamber in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (search). When it came to Rep. James McDermott's (search) turn on Tuesday, he chose not to place his hand over his heart, and he paused during the recitation to leave out the words "under God."

Asked by Fox News whether McDermott deliberately left out the reference to God, the Washington Democrat said he did not.

"I learned my Pledge of Allegiance a long time ago, and I've been saying it the same way since I was 6 years old ... when I learned it in grade school it wasn't in there," he said.

McDermott was born in 1936. The words "under God" were added to the pledge in 1954, and it is now required by law to say "under God" and place one's right hand over one's heart during the pledge.

In 2002, California's controversial 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (search) declared the two words unconstitutional, and the matter is now pending before the Supreme Court. McDermott claimed that while leading the pledge he couldn't quite remember where that court case stood.

But McDermott weighed in on the court's decision once before. After the 9th Circuit handed down its ruling, the House passed a measure criticizing the decision. It passed overwhelmingly — but McDermott and nine other Democrats refused to weigh in, voting "present."  

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she called McDermott in for a chat on his decision to omit the two words.

"I completely disagree with Congressman McDermott's presentation of the pledge to the flag ... House Democrats expect the pledge to be delivered as it is written, with under God, and with respect for the pledge," Pelosi said.

Click here for a report by Fox News' Brian Wilson.