High School Atheist Refuses to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

Atheist Collingswood High School senior Chelsea Stanton explains her reasoning:

I couldn’t bring myself to recite it anymore, because I felt like it didn’t respect me.

Friendly Atheist has more details.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • dogfightwithdogma

    This young lady showed great courage of conviction and character. The future of this movement and this community of freethinkers and atheists rests with young people like her. She gives me cause for optimism about the future.

  • fastlane

    This is long settled, legally. Socially, though, we clearly have a long way to go.

    I don’t understand why schools aren’t very explicit at the beginning of the year, and every few months, in pointing out that no one has to stand/pledge if they don’t want to.

    An important part of education should be learning what things you get to decide on your own, and encouraging discussion about these things in Civics classes.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      You make it sound like they’re more interested in educating in freethinking abilities than in instilling deference to their authority.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001373579092 martalayton

    I haven’t actually said the pledge in years because I don’t think it describes our country and I feel quite strongly that it’s immoral to lie. I do stand – I think out of respect for the strong sentiments many of my friends and family attach to the pledge, and out of a desire not to be needlessly offensive; but I’ve had more than one conversation where I explain why I don’t say the pledge.

    I remember when I started doing this back in my senior year of high school. Although in my case it had little to do with religion (I simply didn’t see a society providing liberty and justice for all), I can appreciate how hard it is to do at that age. Good on Chelsea for standing up for what she believes.

  • danielmidgley

    Whoa. You mean in America, you have to recite a loyalty oath to your country?

    That’s messed up. Are they afraid of you or something?

    Love,
    an Australian

  • bahrfeldt

    I will reiterate, my parents and their generation fought World War II and Korea (yes, I still have Mom’s ETO ribbon with combat star) without “under God” in the pledge. They are idolized as “the greatest generation”. Every “hippie freak” in the sixties pledged under God at the beginning of every public school day from first grade on. The constant drumming in of God and country diluted out most of their (our) perceptions of relevance.

  • John Horstman

    I stopped standing or saying the pledge in third grade, after learning more about the (ongoing) histories of American imperialism and racist public policy (I never said the “under god” part, what with never believing in a god). I do not pledge allegiance to this country/the current government/the present legal framework. It’s seriously broken. Uncritical nationalism is as ludicrous as any religious belief. What’s really shocking is that people are trying to force Stanton to swear a loyalty oath (and a religious one at that). I just do not understand the appeal of fascism*.

    *Please note, I am not using this as a meaningless derogatory characterization, I’m actually describing authoritarian hyper-nationalism. I don’t particularly understand the appeal of authoritarianism or nationalism, and certainly not the combination of the two.

  • Robert B.

    I always omitted “under God.” (Well, not always, but at least all through high school and part of middle school, ever since I switched from agnostic to atheist.) I’m not sure anyone ever noticed.

    At this point, I think I’d also substitute “Constitution” for “flag.” Though arguments in this thread that the whole thing is creepy are weighing on my consideration; maybe I’d just skip it.


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