Buy Me Some Peanuts and Religious Privilege

Did you know that Little League Baseball has a pledge? It’s on their website, right here:

I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best

Little League is a tax-exempt American non-profit that organizes youth baseball around the world, up to and including the Little League World Series. Teams from every country often say this pledge before games, and Vancouver resident Bruce Levens is none too pleased about it:

“I have brought my children up to be very skeptical of religion and to allow them to make their own choices as to whether or not they want to follow any particular faith,” Levens told the Courier this week [...]

Levens supports the pledge’s commitment to fair play and good sportsmanship but believes the altars of religion and sport should be kept apart. “I’d like to see the whole reference to God, country and laws taken out completely,” said Levens, an atheist. “It’s highly inappropriate to expect children to make that pledge.”

I agree completely with Levens, and I like that he goes so far as to denounce the political sentiments as well. I personally find it divisive and jingoistic, not to mention more than a little creepy, when children are expected to swear political loyalties.

Of course, Little League can’t — and doesn’t — require anyone to say the pledge. But… Well, I’ll let Levens explain it. He’s on a roll:

Levens said the pledge puts undue pressure on children and families. “Even if it isn’t a strict requirement to give the pledge, to have the pledge creates a social need to conform and people feel uncomfortable saying no,” he said.

Exactly.

The pledge is intended, according to Little Mountain Little League President Pat Chaba, to instill “character and respect.” It’s modeled off of the American Pledge of Allegiance (post-”Under God,” clearly).

But it’s 2012, and Little League is a multicultural, international organization now. I don’t mean to imply that the pledge’s god-bothering ever had a purpose, but it’s obviously long past due for a rewrite.

About Megan Wells

Megan Wells is an IT tech and sports blogger in Chicago.

  • Anonymous

    The whole notion of children reciting pledges is dodgy, as far as I’m concerned. It reminds me of this

    .

    • Anonymous

      OMG!  That video is hilarious!!!

  • 303dk

    religion is all over baseball. check out left field: http://www.milb.com/team1/page.jsp?ymd=20060307&content_id=45646&vkey=team1_t551&fext=.jsp&sid=t551

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

       Scary to imagine what they’d call “fun”.

  • http://twitter.com/clear1048 Michael

    Try P.O.N.Y. Baseball instead =) 

    “PONY is a non-discriminatory organization, which prohibits actions against an
    individual or organization league on the basis of race, sex, creed, religion or national origin. ” -2012 PONY Baseball Rules and Regulations

    • http://www.facebook.com/Quidsane John Dixon

      Nope. Their pledge has the same problem.

      The PONY Champions Pledge:

      For the love of the game,
      and the spirit of opportunity,
      I seek to uphold the storied
      values of the sport.
      To always play fair, encourage others,
      and to put forth all effort, in spite
      of outcome or circumstance.
      With Love of God, Family, and Country,
      I am a PONY Champion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    But for the people that do know the pledge, it associates their mind with not just baseball, but with God, and thus may serve as yet another contributing factor to snatching the kids up into God’s arms before they have the ability to decide themselves. Considering how many factors like that there are, parents especially, I wouldn’t get all up and arms about it, but I would try to note that it does infact perhaps need a change – multicultural also means there are people of different faiths as well, from Theists to Atheists.

  • Anonymous

    My kids play in Little League and I too think it’s time to change the pledge, especially since there is an assumption that the League is connected with the school district.  It’s not, but the school promotes and supports the league so much that I think it is assumed and part of the district’s name is in the League’s name too.  Makes it a bit confusing.  I like the last 4 lines of the pledge because it helps them remember what kind of behavior is expected at the game, but the first 3 lines make me gag.  Luckily, our League only recites it on opening day so I let it go.  My kids are fairly confident in what their own beliefs are and would rather deal with the one time it’s recited than to have a bunch of drama come up with us at the center of it all.  I’m lucky, though, in that my oldest doesn’t seem bothered by religious people telling him he’s going to hell.  He just lets their comments roll right off and moves on with life.  My younger one tries to follow his lead, but I think he is more sensitive about it.  He’s the one who pretends to recite the god parts while the older one just doesn’t recite anything and chooses to stand there silently.  Nobody has ever criticized them or pressured them about it in any way so I let it all go so they can feel “normal” about one aspect of their life… you know, because I won’t let them join Boy Scouts while their friends are all doing it. 

    I’ve never heard of PONY League.  I’ll have to see if there is one around us!

  • Rwlawoffice

    Really?  Now a private organization that nobody is forced to join or participate in must change its pledge and how they operate because it mentions God? I have suggestion for you- join another league or don’t be so intolerant that others have to give into what you want.  

    • TiltedHorizon

       I’d be incline to agree with you but since ‘choice’ is the problem, at least in my area, it leaves my son at a disadvantage. In my neck of the woods, Little League is the only choice, therefore the choice becomes recite a pledge forced on him or find another pastime. Granted, there is a third choice; lie or learn a life lesson. He can utter the words, so he can participate or he can refuse, which could result in ostracization by his peers. He already knows lying is wrong, so I guess he just needs to learn what “Christian Love” is really about.

      I suppose I can quit my job and start a PONY Baseball league….  since it is too much to expect a children’s baseball league to be inclusive of all children.

      • Rwlawoffice

         That is my issue with the suggestion that the league should change.  It is a private organization that has set its standards. It believes that calling upon God is the standard that it wants to set. Why should this standard be changed because someone who doesn’t want to join in that standard wants to belong to their club?  If my son wanted to join a secular club should they be forced to open with prayer because he wants to?  Why is the christian club that is always called upon to be tolerant, while those that want them to change aren’t? Maybe a lesson your son could learn is that there are people who have different beliefs then him and that he can be respectful of that at the same time he joins them in activities they share. 

        • TiltedHorizon

          “Maybe a lesson your son could learn is that there are people who have different beliefs then him and that he can be respectful of that at the same time he joins them in activities they share.”

          He already knows that, he is 6, he has no working concept of how to be intolerant. He already knows that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors and creeds, and he is blind to all of it. The only lesson he should be learning here is what the Little League should be teaching; Baseball. It is after all, called “Little League” not “Christian Little League”. The whole point is to play, not pray.

          “Why is the christian club that is always called upon to be tolerant”

          How ironic, have you never heard of the ‘Golden Rule’? Do unto others…. Are you really complaining of having to live up to standards your faith demands of you?

        • Jeff Williams

          What an idiot. Do you even realize what you’re saying? You’re a typical fake christian. “Why is the christian club that is always called upon to be tolerant?” Because Christ was ALL about tolerance you imbecile. Once you and you ilk figure that out maybe the planet stands a chance!!

  • LutherW

    What next? Will they join the Boy Scouts in banning atheist or gay leaders and players?

  • flyingmachine3

    Digging up an old thread, but had no idea that little league baseball had a “pledge” until I caught the introductions of the LLWS today and some kid started off reading, “I Trust in God…”

    Facepalm.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X