An Open Letter to the Principal of My Kids’ Elementary School: Let’s Drop the Pledge of Allegiance

This school year, my youngest daughter, who is eight, is being asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance in her public school every day. “Being asked” is too kind, really; it’s on her class program, so like any good little third-grader, she simply does it, every morning, without question — just like her 20 classmates. No one’s told her that she may opt out.

The school has no specific policy on saying the Pledge, leaving it up to individual teachers to incorporate it into their daily routines — or not.

I thought about it off and on for a few weeks, finding it hard to know what to do, if anything. Not rocking the boat has its advantages, which in this case would include not exposing my daughter to the social perils of having an outspoken atheist for a dad, especially in the very school environment where this could hurt her the most. Then again, I’m terrible at keeping my mouth shut when something bothers me.

When I cautiously broached the principal about this, he immediately offered to discuss any concerns with the staff without disclosing my name, or those of my two school-age daughters. I thought that was pretty classy, so I felt unburdened to send him the following letter.

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Dear S.:

The Pledge of Allegiance has, unfortunately, morphed into a political and social hornet’s nest. I believe that our school would do well to shy away from it altogether.

First, as an American by choice (I’m an immigrant and became a naturalized citizen as an adult), my own allegiance to the United States is deep and sincere; I don’t love my country merely by accident of birth.

But it makes me uncomfortable when kids as young as 6 or 7 or 8 are asked to say the Pledge — any pledge, I suppose, that goes beyond the simple “I’ll be kind to others.” They’re not old enough to realize what’s being drilled into their skulls. I’d like my brood to learn they are first and foremost citizens of the world, rather than of one particular country. To the extent that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance over and over contributes to the notion of U.S. exceptionalism, “manifest destiny,” and other “We’re Number 1″ jingoistic rot … well, let’s just say I’d like the children of our community to steer clear of all that potential ugliness.

But that’s actually the minor one of my two concerns. Here’s the bigger crux of the matter.

As you know, the First Amendment to the Constitution contains the Establishment Clause, which prohibits public schools from engaging in the promotion of religion. In 1954, amid rampant McCarthyism and communist-hunting, Congress decided to add the words “under God” to the Pledge, thereby instantly stamping those of us who do not believe in God, plus our children, as un-American, or somehow being of lesser stature. The Pledge had existed and thrived since its 19th-century inception, more than 60 years earlier, without that religious reference.

I wish the text hadn’t been amended the way it was, because the change puts lots of people in a bind — you and me, for instance, when it comes to your teachers making kids say the Pledge in class (daily). You understand, I’m sure, that parents do not look to public schools for instilling religious values in their kids. Nor do I want public-school teachers, no matter how well-intentioned, to promote or endorse the idea that there is a heavenly creator to begin with.

I suppose the children should be explicitly given the option of remaining seated and not having to recite the pledge, but that’s a highly unsatisfactory solution especially in an elementary school; it just opens up a difficult discussion they’re too young to comprehend. Plus, the ability to opt out nonetheless puts them under social pressure to conform…or suffer possible taunts from classmates.

It’s regrettable that the “under God” addition places us into this situation, as the pledge was originally intended to unite rather than divide us all.

As before, I support the school wholeheartedly, and not just with my tax dollars. You, the teachers, and the support staff have been nothing but kind and gracious to my children, my wife, and myself, so this is not an easy letter for me to write. As the Pledge is wholly separate from the curriculum, however, and because I don’t see any good coming from its being on the daily program in my youngest daughter’s class, I propose that you ask the teachers to retire it. Any gained time can then be dedicated to academic teaching of the kind that public schools were indeed founded to provide.

With undiminished appreciation for you and the entire school staff,

Terry

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I’ll let you know what happens next.

Have you been in a similar situation? How did you handle it, and with what results? Strategically, what do you think is the best way to approach this, and why? Hit us in the comments!

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • pagansister

    Being an adult, I can and do opt to not include the “under God” when I am attending an event where the Pledge is said (which isn’t often). I am old enough to remember the Pledge without those 2 added words! I think your letter was well written and put your concerns up front in a, for lack of a better word, “polite” way. It will be interesting to see if anyone else is concerned and also to see what, if anything, is done about your concern.

    • Noki

      Why does it seem most people old enough to remember don’t? I know people in their 80s and 90s who will get outright outraged if it’s brought up. They are always sharing those “Under God” posts on Facebook. It confuses me.

      • allein

        Pretty sure I’ve gotten that email from my mom (who was born in ’44). Thankfully she’s not on facebook.

  • Mike

    I am actually an elected official (of a very, very small town) and we say the pledge at the beginning of every meeting. I keep my mouth shut for the “under god” part and nobody has noticed (or cared?) yet. And if they do, I’ll explain my thoughts to them, and hopefully be as polite and articulate as you were, Terry. Thanks for the great article.

  • Jim Charlotte

    Out of respect I’ll stand for the pledge but I won’t say it. I feel only people are worthy of loyalty, not institutions. I show the same respect to our or other national anthems, and prayers, too, if I’m in a religious setting I’ve chosen to go to or been invited to. Because respect. Anyway, hopefully these vestiges of 19th and 20th century nationalism will be replaced by the ideals of humanism in the near future anyway.

    • monyNH

      Jim, I do exactly this same thing–and I’ve told my kids since around the third grade that they may feel free to do so as well. I’m a school librarian, and I’ve not had any problem, in any school I’ve been in, with following this route. Fortunately, my current situation has me in a library with no intercom, so it’s not an issue! :)

    • DeviousSoybeans

      I stand, but I don’t say it, either — any of it. I have no plans to become a traitorous maniac, but I agree with you that only people are worthy of loyalty. That said, I have pledged my allegiance to my country. Several times. I don’t see why such a serious promise can apparently “wear off” overnight, requiring daily re-promising. My husband and I don’t renew our marriage vows every morning, and those are vastly more important to me than loyalty to country.

    • MariaO

      I actually do the same thing when the audience raises and sings the “song to the King”* – I stand up not to create unpleasantness but refuse to devotedly sing to this individual that only got his position because is mother finally had a son after four daughters. It does not make it any better that the song asks god (unknown which) help the king perform his difficult task. Taskfully, the national anthem isgod-free.
      *Yes, about every other year or so I do see the kning in the distance at a party or some other function. We are a resonably small country. And as soon as the king appears the song is obligatory. (He must be awfully tired of it…)

      • Buckley

        “[Thankfully], the national anthem is god-free”. Unlike the one my family in England has to sing…God save our gracious queen, God save our noble queen…

        • MariaO

          It’s the translation of that one we are supposed to sing to the king! But it is not the national anthem: “Ye old, ye free…”

    • C Peterson

      Respect? Respect for what? When it comes to the Pledge, or to prayer, the only thing I respect is the right of other people to participate in those things. I don’t respect the things themselves, so I see no reason to stand for them.

    • Timothy R Alexander

      I stand, mostly out of fear. When you’re in a large crowd for something and they stand for it and you don’t, let’s just say the looks I got one time scared the crap out of me.

      • Jeff

        I can respect that. I live in Texas, and I could not imagine going to a Texas High School Football game and not standing up for it. At least there would be an ambulance present….

  • Kurt Flint

    I’m facing the same problem this week, so I am looking forward to hearing how your experience goes. My fear is that you have just put forth an “issue” that a “with god as our guide we’ll stop these godless atheists from…” will result from. It is just the nature of last generation patriots and christians, so I think it is going to be trouble.

    I have a 6 year old and a 17 year old. I suspect that with the first child the mother and child colluded to keep me in the dark on the subject :)

    KF

  • Beth

    My preschooler (age 3!) has the pledge on the wall of his public school class room. I asked him about it at an open house and he didn’t know anything about it. I even recited the pledge to him and asked if he said it in school. He said “no” and didn’t appear to recognize it. This is our first kid entering into the school system and I don’t want to rock the boat right off the bat. Because they are not saying it I’m not going to say anything. As the kids get older I may take the same tact as Terry: write a polite note asking for anonymity, and tell my kids they don’t have to say anything if they don’t want to.

  • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

    My second grader asked me about the pledge. We discussed it. He skips the “under god” part when he feels like it. I’m not overly concerned about it because, as he told me, “It’s just words, mama. No one can make you believe something if you don’t really believe it.”

    • C Peterson

      Of course, the problem lies with the kids who aren’t smart enough, or wise enough, to figure out that “it’s just words”. They’re the ones who grow up into the sort of adults most likely to be victims of dogma, and to victimize others in the name of dogma.

      • guest

        Ya, I’ve never met ANYONE that was traumatized or victimized by the “dogma”(lol) that comes with reciting the Pledge. Nice generalization though.

        • C Peterson

          Hundreds of millions of people have been traumatized by the process of defining patriotism dogmatically.

          Billions of people today are traumatized and victimized by religious and political dogma.

        • Matt D

          So, now that you HAVE met people upset at this fiasco (on this blog if not IRL) the best thing you can come up with is to show zero empathy?

          Do you understand why it’s disturbing that you lack the ability to show empathy to complete strangers, merely because they oppose your opinion?

        • Jim Jones

          Why don’t you say it then? Complete with the Bellamy salute.

          http://files.abovetopsecret.com/files/img/ip51472700.jpg

    • cyb pauli

      As a psychologist I disagree with your son. Research proves out that you can indeed make people, children especially, believe (or at least remember) things that are incorrect.

      • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

        Not if they have good parents. :)

        • Gringa123

          unfortunately, many do not

      • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

        Also, we’re talking the Pledge here, not torture like the episode where Picard is electrocuted until he says there are three lights.

        • earlgray

          he *never* said there are three lights. he never broke.

          • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

            You’re right. I worded that wrong. I wanted to say that he was electrocuted to be made to say there were three lights, but he screamed “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!!!” all the way to the end. (One of my favorite episodes, BTW)

        • Sideshow_Billybob

          Five lights, not three. Everyone turn in your nerd cards. ;-)

    • closetatheist

      Isn’t that how beliefs spouted by propaganda become acceptable? Because enough people hear them over a long enough period of time that they can’t help but internalize them?

      • Linda Susan Wilson Stone

        just look at how many kids believe in Santa Claus.

        • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

          Better Santa Claus that anything else. Santa isn’t dogma. Santa doesn’t discriminate against gays and lesbians. No one has ever died in the name of Santa. And eventually, children grow out of Santa. (Only to return to him as adults with their own children as they giggle trying to hide the presents under the tree).

          Comparing the wonder and magic of something benign like Santa to indoctrination is quite the leap. I do not know of any adults who think Santa is real.

          • Fentwin

            When I was a young child I noticed that Santa did not like poor people.

            • Sophia Mefford

              Interesting coincidence. Republicans would have you believe God hates them too.

          • guest

            because children shouldn’t have pride in their country? But it’s ok to lie to them about some gift giving elf. No hypocrisy there.

            • http://agmmusings.blogspot.com/ Alessia Lane

              I don’t think I ever said that anyone shouldn’t have pride in their country. I’d rather folks had pride in humanity but most humans suck.

            • Anat

              What is the meaning of having pride in a country you happened to be born in, or brought to by your parents? You didn’t make it, you just landed in it.

              • Paula M Marshall

                Because you’re allowed to leave it. I choose to stay. Did you ever think of that?

            • Niall Hosking

              Funny how many other countries have pride (but not insane pride) in their countries without needing a ‘pledge’, let alone an illegally religious one.
              I’m so proud my country chased away all its religious bigots! ;)

          • allein

            I think Santa is a great exercise in critical thinking. If I ever have kids I will be so proud when they figure it out for themselves, and until then it’s just fun.

            • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

              It sure worked that way for my kids. My oldest did an experiment to test whether the tooth fairy was real, and the results not only did in her belief in the tooth fairy, but also Santa, the Easter Bunny and God.

              • allein

                My mom tipped me off to the tooth fairy accidentally; she came in to “check on” me since I wasn’t asleep yet, and I heard the quarters in her pajama pocket. I didn’t tell her though…I still had baby teeth to cash in on. I guess Santa was around the same time. God took longer but then again I was never a Believer-with-a-capital-B in the first place and I drifted away from any religious practice long before I really started thinking about what it is I actually believe (around age 30, but I stopped going to church regularly in high school and never thought much of it).

                • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

                  We made a deal with my oldest. She could continue to cash in teeth directly with us (one golden dollar coin each), as long as she didn’t tip off her little sister. I wanted her sister also to have the exercise of figuring it all out.
                  Both kids, now teenagers, have decided that they are nonbelievers. I think our Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny exercise helped with that.

                • allein

                  My brother apparently had a year or two of fun keeping it going for me (he’s 2 years older). I don’t know if there was any deal between him and my parents, though. He’s an atheist, too, as far as I know (we don’t really talk religion much in my family; our parents are, we’re not; it’s not a big deal).

                • ZeldasCrown

                  When my cousin was young, my aunt told him the truth about the tooth fairy (as in, I’m the one leaving the money for you). Instead of getting the message that there was no real tooth fairy, he went around for a little while telling everyone that his mother was the tooth fairy (in other words, that she was the one leaving money for everyone) before he figured it out.

                • allein

                  That’s cute :)

    • M.S.

      Your son sounds wise! He could teach a lot of adults a lot of things!

  • KMR

    It’s a nice letter. If I was the principal I wouldn’t take offense and would acknowledge your feelings. But I would also ignore your suggestion. Personally I like the pledge although I no longer consider myself a theist. I don’t have a problem with conforming to the wishes of a vast majority of people (and I believe the vast majority of the people also like the pledge) as long as said wishes do no harm in my eyes. I would like my children to learn the value of what I consider smart conformity and I believe saying the pledge (and hopefully contemplating what it means to be part of a larger community) is a good tool for that.

    • invivoMark

      This is what’s called “privilege.”

      You say that you are fine with conforming on issues that “do no harm,” and that’s totally fine. Being non-confrontational on relatively minor issues can be, in some situations, the best strategy for everyone involved!

      But here’s why it’s privilege. And please, don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t mean to insult you or to revoke your ability to approach issues as you see fit. There’s a big difference between “it doesn’t harm me personally,” and “it doesn’t harm anybody at all.”

      You don’t get to say whether it harms other people (it does). I’m very glad that reciting the Pledge hasn’t done any harm to you. But not everyone can say the same. That’s because everybody’s situation is different. Some people are not born with the same privileges and opportunities as you were. So when you say that, if you were the principal, you would ignore the situations where those who are less fortunate than you feel that they are harmed by the Pledge, you are speaking from a position of privilege.

      I’m explaining this to you rather than simply down-voting your post because I hope that this can be turned into a learning experience. Privilege is a difficult concept for those who have it.

      • KMR

        That you for your feedback. However, you would have to state specifically how reciting the pledge has harmed someone in statistically significant ways for me to give your argument any consideration.
        I understand privilege. I just don’t think it has any bearing on this subject at this time.

        • invivoMark

          You seriously can’t think of any harm that could result from exposing religious differences among children in what’s supposed to be a safe learning environment? You really can’t figure out how it could be a bad thing to teach children that intellectual honesty isn’t really that important? You really don’t think that any harm has been done by nationalism, which the Pledge indisputably supports?

          See, if you say something along the lines of, “Well you have to prove to me that something actually hurts people (using my own arbitrary standards) before I’ll listen to you,” that’s privilege. If people are making a fuss about this, then that is evidence that it’s important to some people, and that it probably does harm to them (or that they think it does harm to others). You do not get to be the arbiter of what is and is not harmful.

          That should be abundantly clear from my first paragraph in this post. There are many ways in which the Pledge can and does harm people, and you didn’t think of them because they didn’t apply to you. In this case, those harms should be obvious. In other cases, they might not be so obvious. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.

          • KMR

            If I think your argument is ridiculous or a little bit over the top (and I do in this case) then yes you are going to have to prove it to me somehow using actual quantitative evidence instead of emotion. Especially is you want something changed that the vast majority of people have no problem with.

            • invivoMark

              The fact that a majority of people support something has no bearing on whether the minority ought to stick up for their rights, and it’s exactly why this is an issue of privilege!

              I’m starting to think I may be wasting my time here.

              • KMR

                You have the right not to say the pledge. No one can force that on you so I’m not sure what rights you are referring to. And unless you have something besides emotional arguments to give to me then yes you are wasting your time.

                • allein

                  When everyone is saying the pledge and you choose not to do so, it calls attention to the fact that you aren’t saying it. Which leads to people asking why. Which in some areas leads to kids getting harassed or worse by their classmates, or punished by their teachers. I believe Jessica Alquist mentioned this after her lawsuit came out, with other students yelling “under God” at her during the pledge as a bullying tactic. There was also the case in New Jersey of the girl whose school tried to discipline her for remaining seated, even though she had every right to do so. At best, these things are a distraction from the learning environment which kids really don’t need.

                • KMR

                  No matter what I say I can’t come out ahead for anyone since some people obviously have passionate views on the topic. I’m well aware of what can happen when people choose to do differing things than the majority of the population. I just don’t necessarily think that always means we should dictate what the majority population is allowed to do.

                • allein

                  I didn’t say anything about what people should be allowed to do. It’s not an “emotional argument” to point out how kids can be and have been actually harmed by this assumption that the pledge is or should be a necessary part of every school kid’s day. I wouldn’t particularly care (and didn’t, when I was in school; I said it along with everyone else when I was younger and by middle or high school I had stopped saying it, and no one seemed to notice), but if kids are being harrassed or punished over it, well, then I care. If the school sets aside the time in the morning and those who want to sit it out are allowed to do so without consequence, then fine.

                • KMR

                  No I’ve considered your argument before. But the solution I feel you presented is a perfectly acceptable one and more preferable than taking away the opportunity to recite the pledge. At least to me.

      • KMR

        Just in case my first response came back as dismissive I want to state with perhaps a little more feeling how much I really do appreciate your thoughtful feedback. You were very polite and thank you for that.

    • Sven2547

      I don’t have a problem with conforming to the wishes of a vast majority of people as long as said wishes do no harm in my eyes.

      Farewell, Establishment Clause. We hardly knew ye.

  • Birdie1986

    Excellent letter.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    Good for you. Lets hope all schools drop this ridiculous form of indoctrination.

    “Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.”

    George Jean Nathan

  • TnkAgn

    A few years ago, the Alaska Legislature passed a law that makes it mandatory that each morning, a teacher is compelled to lead the class in the Pledge of Allegiance. As a retired high school teacher from Alaska, I know of no legal challenges to that state law.
    Over and above the “under God” part of the Pledge, however, I have always thought that it is unethical to make children take an oath that they neither understand nor appreciate.

  • cyb pauli

    Children, be they American, North Korean, Brazilian, Somalian or Icelandic, should not be reciting any type of pledge or swear. They don’t understand what it means, and they cannot fulfill it. And I’ll admit that by the time I could work out what it meant, I found it ridiculous to pledge any type of loyalty to a flag. I pledge allegiance to doing the right thing by human beings and so when my country is doing right I am loyal and when my country does evil, I am a traitor.

    • C Peterson

      Yup. As a little kid I said the Pledge in the classroom, because that was just part of the daily ritual. It carried no meaning for me. When I got a little older, the reference to God became offensive, and I said it without that part. Today, I don’t say the Pledge at all, because I find the very act to be unpatriotic. Patriotism is about supporting what is good and right, and about trying to change what is not. It most certainly isn’t about blind allegiance to a country (let alone to a flag!)

      • guest

        So what you’re saying is that the Pledge meant nothing to you for years and years and it had no effect on you what so ever in all that time. But now you’re offended by 2 words and the whole recitation? And you think the Pledge is about being loyal to a flag? Riiiiight.

        The butt hurt is strong in this one.

        • C Peterson

          What I’m saying is that when I was very young, the Pledge meant nothing. It was little more than a pattern of sounds, mindlessly droned.

          As I grew older and more reflective (probably around age 10, so after 5 years of school recitals), I realized that while I could comfortably say most of the Pledge (with some understanding), I could not comfortably make a reference to God in that context.

          When I was older yet (in my 30s), and much more reflective, I realized that the very idea of the Pledge was disturbing, and I could not in good conscience say it- not just because of the God nonsense, but because I no longer agreed with the sentiment itself, or the idea of pledges of patriotism.

          • Anat

            When my daughter was in sixth grade the students in her class were given the assignment to replace as many words in the pledge with their respective synonyms in order to reflect on its meaning.

            Still, the ritual communal chanting of it is something that does not belong in a free society.

        • viddy_well

          And you think the Pledge is about being loyal to a flag? Riiiiight.

          I pledge allegiance, to the flag

          • Kodie

            …and to the republic for which it stands.

            The flag is the symbol of the country, which is why people get upset about people burning them or treating them particularly with any disrespect. The pledge of allegiance is typically recited standing with your right hand over your heart and facing the flag in the room. The pledge addresses the flag because we’re meant to equate the flag with our country and not think of it as a piece of patterned fabric with no significance. That’s what the pledge is for, to pledge allegiance to a country represented by a conveniently sized flag.

            • PhiloKGB

              Who gets to decide what the pledge is for? I ask because your analysis is notably different from the stated intent of the Pledge’s author — Francis Bellamy — to inculcate children with a decidedly socialist view of the federal government.

              • Kodie

                Maybe I was less than complete, but I meant why the pledge addresses a flag. If you think about it too hard, you think it is a pledge to a piece of cloth, but it’s a pledge to regard the flag as symbolically equal to the country.

                People get upset about not reciting the pledge because obviously they’ve been inculcated as youths. It has the desired effect, or else people would not feel so strongly that the pledge is meaningful, traditional, and sacred. It is like, we pledge to the country, and the flag to represent it, and the pledge itself stands for the flag that represents our country, and if you say it every day, you are not resetting your pledge anew, but actively raising the flag in your own heart (or “heart”) as ritually as the flag is raised on the pole every day.

                • Jean Rice

                  Bellamy was also a flag salesman. He was trying to create a market for schools to actually needs flags.

      • ZeldasCrown

        Plus a forced pledge to any institution, person, country, flag, etc, doesn’t mean anything (if I was threatened with something/risked retaliation, I’d say just about any pledge somebody asked me to without meaning it). The only pledges of allegiance that mean anything are those that are freely given without coercion or risk of harm or social retaliation.

        • Kodie

          It kind of does. People who have recited the pledge of allegiance all their lives obviously feel something for it as a sacred ritual. Everyone knows the words, I’m not sure anyone thinks about them awfully hard, but it just means “I’m a patriot”. We’re taught from a young age to say it, not necessarily mean it as a pledge renewal, but it has a magic words effect – anyone who won’t publicly pledge their allegiance to our country may not belong here and shouldn’t be trusted. Any spy would be glad to recite any magic words just to avoid conspicuous lack of conformity, so it doesn’t really work.

          Basically, we’re all raised on keeping your word. If you promise something or pledge something, you have to mean it. Nobody swears on a bible to tell the truth and lies. Anyone who pledges allegiance to the flag and the US out loud is making a serious oath as opposed to simply saying “I’m a patriot.” You swear you’re a patriot? “I just said so, didn’t I? But I mean, do you promise you are, or are you just saying you are?

          We’re talking about people who would not go back on their word, taking the pledge to heart because it’s the pledge, and hoping the gravity of making a promise means more to people than the attraction of conforming to a community’s custom at the risk of being excluded and distrusted. What it deep-down means is people can’t trust each other without putting them through a ritual.

          • Fred

            Nailed it.

          • Paula M Marshall

            I still like saying it. It’s a group thing. I’d leave the 2 words out if I had reason to say it, but this is still a good country mostly.

          • Sophia Mefford

            It is Nationalism, not Patriotism. The pledge represents something to someone in the way you describe when they are unlikely to do anything a true Patriot would gladly do for their country. That is why I find magnets offensive. Patriotism is about action when needed, not idolatry.

    • HollowGolem

      More importantly, it cheapens the concept of a “pledge.” If you “pledged” because you had to, boringly, every day you were in school, with no real context, you become desensitized to the idea of pledging something.

      An oath only matters in a society where people respect the nature of an oath. If we water down the concept of oaths by requiring children, who can’t legally consent to a good many things on their own, to mindlessly parrot them, it indicates that our society values them only as empty declarations, not as actually binding pledges.

    • Ann Onymous

      I sit for the pledge. I figure that I like and appreciate certain of the features and values, like freedom of speech, America has, and I’ll fight for them, but I am not loyal to an entity called the United States of America, regardless of what it does. Plus, there isn’t actually liberty and justice for all, we aren’t actually under God, and we aren’t actually indivisible, and I don’t like lying.

  • Ashley Nasello

    I never make my students say the pledge. I have too many students from other countries (Mexico, India, Pakistan, etc) and of other religions (Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, etc) and since my being an atheist gets me in trouble at my school I used THAT as my reasoning whenever any school official asked. Nothing they can say if it comes to the students’ beliefs. As a parent, you have more power than the teacher. She/he might have been told they MUST say it every morning, as I was told we must. I never do, of course, nor do I force it on my students. The Pledge is antiquated and just needs to go altogether or revert to its original form, while still being a choice of recitation.

    • HollowGolem

      There are a lot of classrooms in the US where a PA system leads students, so individual teachers don’t get a choice. For safety reasons, the PA has to remain on, and its volume is quite loud. I don’t lead students, I just stand silently, pointedly looking -away- from the flag, so that they understand that they should not feel compelled to say the pledge. Some of them say it, some of them don’t. I figure it’s important to at least have not-pledging modeled for them as an alternative and as something that is permitted.

      • Ashley Nasello

        Ours is led via closed circuit television and the administrators walk around and pop into the classrooms to make sure people are complying. I don’t say the pledge, don’t stare at the flag, and don’t punish the students who don’t say it. I, too, think it’s important that students know they don’t need to just recite whatever they are told to recite.

        • JMFBond

          you do know that’s illegal? Making students and teachers say the pledge? It was ruled on by the supreme court – even if it is practice, or even state law (as in Alaska) that the pledge be said in school every day, it is unconstitutional to make any one person recite it, or even stand while others recite it.

          • Ashley Nasello

            A lot of what that man did and still does is illegal, including removing me from my science position for teaching evolution and bullying me for 3 years. He’s still there; I am not. Things like that happen in schools all over America every day and the PTB allow it to happen. I took all the right steps, but he is still in his position. That should tell you what’s really wrong with education today.

            • JMFBond

              Really sorry to hear that, Ashley. Hard to believe there are still people living in the dark ages like that.

  • Mitch

    I’ve never had to deal with anything like this, but I’d say you are dealing with it in the best manner possible. It certainly helps that the principal is being as helpful as he is.

  • Anthony Magnabosco

    Until the pledge is ammended to remove the words “under God”, I will sit and no longer participate in it. My two school-age children will have the option to do as they please.
    @magnabosco

  • trj

    I couldn’t help noticing that the graffiti artist spelled “thunder god” wrong.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      Also the arrow is pointing in the wrong direction. Right now it’s pointing “above God”.

    • C Peterson

      Maybe. I was thinking they actually misspelled “underdog”. I could get behind him as a national symbol!

  • Anna_educator

    I started kindergarten in 74, graduated high school in 87. I remember saying the pledge up to third grade and that was it. I always thought it was something that went away a long time ago. Either it was just a difference between Illinois and Missouri – that was about the time I moved, or it has had a resurgence recently. My bet is on the latter. And if so then the pledge is about indocrinating our children in a post-9/11 christian sort of way and I think we should fight that rather than just ignore it. Great letter!

    • stevieh

      My stepson came home from school one day at the age of about six and told his Mum, “You didn’t make me, God did.” which upset and annoyed her quite a bit. Teachers are in a privileged position of informing impressionable children, who remember and believe much more than we adults think.

    • allein

      I started kindergarten in 1980, and graduated in ’93. We had the pledge every day (in high school they played it over the loudspeaker with the national anthem instrumental in the background). This was in central NJ.

    • SinginDiva721

      I entered Kindergarten in 1986 (graduated in 1999) and as far as I can remember, the pledge was recited every day from K-12. I went to school in suburban Philadelphia which is a fairly liberal part of PA (at least compared to the rest of the state).

    • Kodie

      I’m around the same age as you and stayed in the same school district my whole time in school, in a suburb in NY state. We recited the pledge of allegiance with the teacher leading up through elementary school. I kind of remember also, we sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or “America the Beautiful” after the pledge… some years? Maybe every teacher in every class? I did change elementary schools before 4th grade as they re-assigned my neighborhood to a different school, and I’m not sure if the song part continued. In junior high and high school, the pledge was read over the PA system – by the principal or class president or students who volunteered to do announcements? By high school, it wasn’t cool to stand for the pledge, so anyone who did would be the dork who pledged allegiance.

  • Rob P

    I have always found it ironic that the phrase “Under God” divided the phrase “One Nation Indivisible”

    • Librepensadora

      Yes, and that makes it sound as if God–and not our country–is indivisible. Maybe we should change it to “under God invisible.”

    • rickinwa

      I also find it ironic that those two words negate the “indivisible” bit.

  • closetatheist

    Terry, do you mind if I save this letter for when my kids are in school? I’m pretty bad at stringing words together to make a point…

    • Terry Firma

      Absolutely. Use as much or as little as is useful. That goes for everyone here. Take it, it’s yours.

  • Natalie

    The Pledge of Allegiance is so outdated. It was created at a time when America had a superiority complex the size of Texas. If kids recite anything daily, it should be their ABCs and anything else that’s related to academics. Hell, even reciting “I will do my best to listen, love, and learn” would be more useful than the Pledge.

    • Timothy R Alexander

      Has anyone else noticed our problems are “the size of texas”? Maybe we just need to get rid of Texas.

      • Jeff

        Please, not all of Texas. Just Perry. And Cruz. And Cornyn. And Gohmert. And Barton. And Jackson-Lee (surprised you there, didn’t I). And Sessions, and Stockman. And Perry and Cruz (they are so bad, we need to get rid of them twice).

        • Intelligent Donkey

          Perry and Cruz are just symptoms of a problem. We need to get rid of their supporters.

          So, most of Texas.

      • badgerchild

        Sure, cede it to the UK, then my husband and I can actually have the same citizenship. Job done.

      • Sophia Mefford

        Sorry Timothy they already though of that, they keep trying though. They would save us alot of tax money too. But poor Austin will be like East Berlin surrounded by walls and one road out.

    • Niall Hosking

      Your pledge of indoctrination would make any communist dictator warm to his toes. First time I saw the Pledge (watching Kindergarden Cop) I was horrified at the indoctrination in the so-called ‘land of the free’. It absolutely sounds like something from the childhood of my wife, who grew up with this kind of thing in a now ex-communist state.

  • RedKing

    Terry, thanks for this letter. Just to give some perspective, in some areas, teachers don’t have a choice. I teach in Arizona, and under state law, we must “Set aside a specific time each day for those students who wish to recite the pledge of allegiance to the United States flag.” The pledge, at our school, is piped in via the daily announcements. I personally stand, but do not recite it. I also don’t give any students a hard time for not standing or reciting.

    As an added weirdness, AZ state law requires that I display “a legible copy of the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights that is manufactured in the United States” in my classroom, as well as an American flag. Doesn’t matter if I teach or even mention the Bill of Rights–ever–as long as I have it displayed.

    • Ed Adams

      just be glad it’s just the constitution and not a cross, which would be their preference. unfortunately, as it stands, they’re just trying to use the constitution as a code for the cross.

      • Anat

        Well, there are 3 t’s in ‘constitution’ – that’s 3 crosses right there.

    • Bill Santagata

      Odd that the law requires a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, given that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution. Do you have to display the full Constitution, and then repeat the Bill of Rights?

      • RedKing

        Good question! I’ll look tomorrow at the posters. I know that I have two separate ones on my wall (one for the Constitution, one for the BoRs), but I don’t recall if the poster with text of the Constitution includes the Bill of Rights or not. Since it contains the full text of the document, it’s not as legible as it could be (despite what the law says). In fact, the BoRs poster is in script, so neither poster is really legible from a distance.

        • Bill Santagata

          The full text of the Constitution must have the Bill of Rights in addition to the other 17 amendments. They’re just as much a part of the Constitution.

          • RedKing

            I double checked this morning. Yes, I have a poster with the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the other amendments.

            In addition, I have a smaller poster with just the Bill of Rights.

            Neither of which the students really look at. But hey, I’m in compliance!

  • joey_in_NC

    I completely understand why the under God part is controversial. I get it.

    What I don’t understand is why the indivisible part doesn’t cause the same amount of controversy, if not more so. Why should indivisibility be regarded as sacrosanct as liberty and justice? To what extent should a nation try to remain indivisible? Such ideology leads down a dangerous path.

    • joey_in_NC

      Wow, great argument.

      You know that our founding fathers attempted to secede from Great Britain…and they succeeded. I guess it would have been a good thing for the British if they had the colonists recite a similar pledge to the indivisibility of the British Empire.

      • Bill Santagata

        We settled the whole “indivisible” controversy. It’s called the Civil War.

        • joey_in_NC

          I’m not sure if you’re being facetious or not.

          If anyone holds “indivisibility” of a nation sacred, then I guess they feel that East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, etc. are all still part of the Soviet Union. Or at least they feel that these countries should never have been allowed to break free from Mother Russia without even more blood being spilled to keep the nation “indivisible”.

          • Bill Santagata

            A State seceding from the United States, which most likely would have to be accomplished through much hardship and bloodshed, is not something to celebrate.

            The indivisibility of our country is a national value: our union is perpetual. Whether or not this might hold true in 50, 100, 1,000 years, etc. of course cannot be seen. But it is something the Pledge rightfully marks as a thought to be repulsed by.

            • joey_in_NC

              A State seceding from the United States, which most likely would have to be accomplished through much hardship and bloodshed, is not something to celebrate.

              Of course, if it involves bloodshed. But it doesn’t have to.

              Do you think Poland or Czechoslovakia are dying to be part of the Soviet Union again?

              The indivisibility of our country is a national value: our union is perpetual.

              So goes the ideology. I’m sure the Soviets thought their union was “perpetual” as well.

              • C Peterson

                Our country is made of entities that united voluntarily. I think that’s quite different from the divisions that have occurred in most other examples, where countries were absorbed by force (such as most of Eastern Europe under the Soviets) or were created with arbitrary borders containing groups of people with no existing national, linguistic, cultural, religious, historical, or ethnic commonality.

                • joey_in_NC

                  Our country is made of entities that united voluntarily.

                  Well, exactly. Doesn’t that suggest even more so that these entities should be able to leave voluntarily, if they actually wanted to?

                  Not that I suggest that a state would ever want to secede from the US at this present time. But hypothetically if the vast majority of Hawaii citizens wanted Hawaii to be its own independent nation completely separate from the US, would you actually advocate war/bloodshed if that is what’s necessary to keep our nation whole and prevent us from losing a star on our flag?

              • Bill Santagata

                And I’m sure if the Soviets wrote a pledge that incorporated their national values, they also would have refrained from including “and maybe we’ll splinter off into several separate countries someday, rendering our nation obsolete! Yay USSR!”

                • joey_in_NC

                  And I’m sure if the Soviets wrote a pledge that incorporated their national values, they also would have refrained from including “and maybe we’ll splinter off into several separate countries someday, rendering our nation obsolete! Yay USSR!”

                  And where have I suggested that we include something similar to our pledge?

                  Given your logic, the solution to the under God controversy is to rewrite the pledge like this: “…one nation, under no God since it is an atheist nation, with liberty and justice for all.”

                • Bill Santagata

                  Our Union being an indivisible one is a national value made all the more important by the outcome of the Civil War. It is an integral part of the fabric of our country that the author of the Pledge felt moved to include, considering that he lived through the Civil War. Whether we actually ever live to uphold our indivisibility forever doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t express our intent to do so.

          • Kodie

            If they’re divisible, they’re not allegiant.

            • joey_in_NC

              If they’re divisible, they’re not allegiant.

              да, comrade!

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Weren’t those all independent countries before the USSR? And, additionally, weren’t none of them actually Soviet territories? They were always nominally independent nations, just puppeted by the USSR.

            Now, if you wanted to ask about Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan (among others), you might have a point. You wouldn’t really (those were also historically independent nations), but at least you wouldn’t be so insanely incorrect, because the USSR did consider those part of Soviet territory instead of merely in their sphere of influence.

            • joey_in_NC

              You can do the substitution if you feel the analogy would be more apt. My argument stands either way.

              EDIT: Actually, you are correct that my analogy is incorrect. Those countries that I listed above technically were not part of the Soviet Union but were members of the Warsaw Pact linking the communist countries together. The list of countries that you listed would make my analogy correct. My bad, and thanks for the correction.

    • baal

      Are you making a point that nationalism qua nationalism is bad? If so, I agree. If you’re complaining about the word in it’s context “indivisible with liberty and justice for all” then I don’t. I sure hope everyone gets liberty and justice (even if I know that’s not the facts).

      • joey_in_NC

        The problem is that you’re missing a comma. It’s…

        …one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

        Also, the original pledge is sometimes written like this

        …one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

        Clearly “indivisible” was referring to the nation and not “liberty and justice”. So you’re the one misinterpreting the context, not me.

    • PAPA SMURF

      I agree with that and I have to say that when you pledge to the FLAG it is stating that you are a American and that you believe in America. whether you believe in GOD or not one should believe in the country that they want to live in. Thousands of Americans have died so you could come to a country like this. You should be honored to be able to live in this country. But then again there is people that just comer here to make money, in fact that is their religion “MONEY”. And I think that is a pity. I myself feel that it is an honor to not only live in this country, but to have served for it.
      “America love it or leave it”

  • berberine

    Until last year, I worked as a paraeducator in the local school district. Last year, the state passed a resolution to “set aside time each day to say the Pledge.” this school district already did this, so nothing changed there. It was always in the morning. I did not stand, nor did I recite the pledge for the six years I worked there. Some teachers were not happy about it, but shut up last year when the new state law also said that no one could be forced to stand or recite the pledge, something I had been telling them all along.

    There was a student three years ago who came to me for help as he was told that he was going to say the pledge or write an essay why he shouldn’t do it. This student is now in high school and is sometimes still told he needs to stand up. I have written about the pledge before, if anyone wants to read it.

    http://www.dailycensored.com/children-should-not-be-forced-to-recite-the-pledge/

    • Timothy R Alexander

      Don’t you love those do nothing laws?

  • Gofa

    My brother is a teacher in KS. In his new job working at two separate schools, he is asked to say the pledge twice daily. While he is a theist, he refuses on the same grounds that I do. Specifically, that there is no reason to shout “look at me, I’m a patriot” in public. We both agree that if anyone has questions about our views on our country, they can ask us in person, rather than making assumptions based on any simple repeating of a phrase.

  • Elizabeth

    I was nanny to some ex-pat British kids living in Florida for three years in the early 90s. They were not exempt from saying the pledge, even though they rightly had no allegiance to the US. They were aged 5 and 7 at the time. The family were quite shocked that their children were expected to pledge allegiance to a country that wasn’t their own.

    • JMFBond

      The supreme court has ruled that it is illegal to force anyone who doesn’t want to say the pledge to say it, and it is even illegal to force them to stand silently.

  • Brandon

    Terry, thank you for writing this. My son just turned 14 months and I am having anxiety and panic attacks at the thought I might have to cross this path myself. And this is horrible considering this should be a time of excitement and pride for my son. I worry, as an atheist, a minority in this country, that my son will become a target by other young, uneducated minds defending their parents’ stance on the matter – both children become the victim here.

    You stated your stance with eloquence and diplomacy. Might I use your letter to express mine and my wife’s side when that time comes?

    Thanks again,
    Brandon

    • Terry Firma

      By all means, use my letter any way you see fit.

      I don’t know where you live, and how pervasive and dominant Christianity is in your community, but it can’t really be so bad as to induce panic attacks in non-believers, can it? If I’m wrong, I’m sorry to hear that (actually, I’m always sorry to hear I’m wrong! ;-) ).

      Don’t let the majority cow you. Especially when it comes to our children’s education and well-being, I wouldn’t provoke discussion for no good reason, but stating one’s case is allowed — perhaps imperative. Hold your head high. Good luck.

  • guest

    Oh FFS, just tell your kids to omit the words “under god” and be done with it already. No one has the right to not be offended and if reciting the pledge is offensive to you, I would suggest that you get a fucking a grip. Time wasted is not an issue. You’re talking about 30 seconds out of the day. Most kids day dream a lot longer than that in class. Are you scarred from reciting the pledge throughout your school years? If you are, that’s a you problem. Maybe tightening your tin foil hat would help. Talk about wasting peoples time. I’ll never get the 5 minutes I wasted reading this drivel back. There are bigger issues that need addressing and this is not one of them.

    • David Kopp

      If it’s such a non-issue… what’s the problem with getting rid of it?

    • allein

      And how many minutes did you waste writing a response to this “drivel”?

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      But I do have the right not to have the government force me to religious oath.

    • Terry Firma

      I’m not at all convinced that you took even five minutes to read my letter. If you had, you would probably not be asking me if I am “scarred from reciting the pledge during my school years.” As I said, I wasn’t born in the United States, I didn’t go to school here, and not once was reciting a patriotism pledge (much less a religious one) thought necessary or proper in my country of birth during any of the 15 years that I received an education there.

      I hesitate a bit in pointing that out (again) however, as I suspect your dismissive demeanor will next find a target in my being a mere immigrant and not a “real” American — just like atheists were obviously not “real” Americans to the Congressional panderers who added the words “under God” to the Pledge in 1954.

      Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

    • fakename

      Hugo Black nailed why you’re wrong:

      “Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest. Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions. These laws must, to be consistent with the First Amendment, permit the widest toleration of conflicting viewpoints consistent with a society of free men.

      Neither our domestic tranquillity in peace nor our martial effort in war depend on compelling little children to participate in a ceremony which ends in nothing for them but a fear of spiritual condemnation. If, as we think, their fears are groundless, time and reason are the proper antidotes for their errors. The ceremonial, when enforced against conscientious objectors, more likely to defeat than to serve its high purpose, is a handy implement for disguised religious persecution. As such, it is inconsistent with our Constitution’s plan and purpose.”

    • OhioAtheist

      I’ve always found the “there are bigger issues” excuse to be a big joke. Does an issue have to be “bigger” (in your opinion) to be worth addressing? Can’t this issue be address along with “bigger” issues? You can’t do both? That’s like saying doctors should ignore broken bones and only work on cancer research instead. Besides, whatever issues you consider to be mundane can become “bigger issues” if you don’t address them now. YOU don’t get to decide what’s important for everyone else.

  • Rachael Butz

    As a citizen of Earth, I find it hard to pledge allegiance to any hunk of land. I love my country, but not to the detriment of humanity. We’re just a few billion organisms floating around on a tiny rock in the middle of a seemingly uninhabited ocean we call the universe. If we stopped drawing lines…ALL lines…we could be out there exploring and finding other habitable places. We’ll see a devastating population crisis long before our sun threatens to destroy us. If we don’t figure out something soon, as a species, we’re all in for some big problems.

  • LutherW

    Maybe we should substitute “One nation undereducated, with liberty and justice for some,”

    I like to sing “godless America”.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      I’ve usually gone with “One nation, under Canada, with liberty and justice I hope.”

  • bamcintyre

    As a teacher I made it clear that the “UNDER GOD” stuff was optional.

    • Terry Firma

      What age were the kids?

    • Bill Santagata

      The whole thing is optional for students to recite.

      • baal

        For certain definitions of optional where consequences are not applied.

    • JMFBond

      Yes, as someone said below, the whole THING is optional, according to the supreme court. You cannot require any student to say any part of the pledge, or even require them to stand when others are reciting it.

  • Daniel Brown

    LOL – technically the placement of this spray paint makes it quite literally ABOVE god, not “under” god.

    • baal

      I want to go paint a “Th” at the front. Not that it really fixes it but it does change the message.

    • TheLump

      I thought the exact same thing!

  • Fentwin

    I pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth
    which represents the corporate states of America,
    and to the wealthy to which it seemingly belongs,
    one nation underfunded
    with liberty and justice for a select few.

    • Timothy R Alexander

      I’m stealing that and using it the next time some one posts something about the pledge on facebook.

  • gAytheist

    I haven’t been in the situation as a parent, but I can well remember when I was a student that I was always bothered by the pledge. Even when I was very young I was not sure I believed in god so anything that reciting something that SAID I believed in god disturbed me. But I also disliked the idea of pledging allegiance to a FLAG. To a piece of cloth? What could that mean? I could understand pledging allegiance to the constitution but not to the flag. I quit saying the pledge in 7th grade and have refused to say it ever since.

  • Bill Santagata

    In most, if not all, states, it is the *law* that schools recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each day. Terry’s letter most likely needs to be addressed to the state legislature.

    • fakename

      Such laws are invalid and have been since 1943.

      See West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.

      • Bill Santagata

        I’m not talking about the *students* who can never be forced to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m referring to the schools. The government can force other government entities to say something: by state law, the schools themselves must host a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of each school day. This is constitutional.

  • akak907

    I teach 8th grade social studies. We say the pledge every morning. I’ve made it clear that it is optional. When we learn about government, I stress the establishment clause and separation of church and state. I even tell my students about “under god” being added during the 50s in fear of the godless communists and how when I say the pledge everyday, I omit the “under god.”

  • Dave The Sandman

    I’m with wee Will Phillips on this one – while the god reference is bad, its the last damn line that damns all who parrot it as a hypocrite and liar:

    “With Liberty and Justice for All”

    Of those two lies in one short pledge I consider the latter to be the worst and most sickening.

    Still, Im a Brit who like his fellow countryman Samuel Johnson considers patriotism to be the last refuge of scoundrels. Look at a picture of any right winger GOP goober with his teary eye and hand on wallet doing the thousand yard stare of destiny or camo clad militia psycho barking that pledge while fondling his AR15 and tell me it aint so!

    • Terry Firma

      That part doesn’t bother me. I take it as a bit of encouragement — something that means that as Americans, we will fight for justice and liberty … for all who live within our borders. To me, it’s not a declaration of a goal achieved, but of a goal worth achieving.

  • Brian Allen

    The pledge is important – we just need to put it back to what it was pre-1950′s.
    Take out the “Divisive” under god so as a nation we can be indivisible again….

  • OhioAtheist

    I take exception to pledging allegiance to anything. I find the whole concept ridiculous. But to address the issue at hand, I, as a government employee, attend conferences that are sponsored by other governmental agencies. At these conferences, the pledge of allegiance is recited in the mornings. I stand up with everyone else, but I do not recite. I don’t think it’s appropriate at all, but I’m not inclined to do anything about it.

  • Matt Hisrich

    Thank you for writing to your principal and for sharing this here, Terry! I’ve shared it on the FB Scrap the Pledge page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Scrap-the-Pledge/620135698027274

  • rwlawoffice

    So the premise of your opposition to reciting the pledge is that the government should not force you to say or do something that goes against your beliefs even if it is in the symbolic ritual of a pledge, particularity in children who are vulnerable? Would you agree to that same premise for other actions that the government is forcing on people of faith who want to refuse to participate based upon their religious beliefs? Or does it only apply to the pledge and other things you don’t agree with?

    For example, allowing parents to have their children opt out of teachings that try to equate homosexual behavior as moral when their beliefs are otherwise. Or forcing a Christian business to pay for birth control when that goes against that owner’s beliefs.

    If you are consistent that your argument would have more credibility.

    • KelpieLass

      Gay people exist. Some kids in your local school have two moms or two dads. Accepting reality is not indoctrination. You are free at home to teach what you want, but at school children should be taught to treat all people with respect. Singling out some students and some parents as “immoral” for existing is wrong.

      Likewise, insurance companies charge a fee for a set amount of coverage. This coverage includes medication. It is none of the employer’s business how the employee chooses to use his/her medical benefits. In the same way, no employer could say, “I am paying you $X per week, but you cannot use any of your pay to contribute to a church.” It is none of the employers business what the employee chooses to do with pay and benefits.

      Do you really not understand the difference between making your own choices and interfering in the choices of others?

      Would you want your Jehovah’s Witness employer to prohibit ooverage of your child’s blood transfusion after a major accident? Should your vegan employer be able to prohibit coverage of insulin, because it was discovered via animal testing? Or should your employer provide the pay and benefits which you have earned and let you make your own moral choices?

      • rwlawoffice

        This is the response i thought I would receive and it proves my point. You rationalize the government mandate when it meets the causes you want to promote and it effects people of faith, but you don’t when it affects your beliefs. So the argument against the pledge is not on principle, it is on promoting your own agenda. Typical liberal mentality.

        Insurance companies charge different amounts for different coverage. If as an employer I don’t want to pay for things that go against my religion, that is my right. My employees can go elsewhere to work where this would not be a problem for them. So to answer your questions, yes the employer who is paying for the benefits should be able to determine what coverage they are willing to pay for.

        • KelpieLass

          No, the cost of insurance coverage with birth control coverage and without birth control coverage would be the same. It is possible, due to costs of pregnancy and childbirth, the the plan without birth control coverage would be more expensive.

          It does not violate any one’s religious beliefs for another person to have the right to choose different religious beliefs.

          Look at the reaction to the U.S. Air Force Academy deciding that new cadets, when they take the oath, can choose to say or not say “so help me God.” Fox News has gone ballistic, because somehow giving Cadet A a choice, violates the religious sensibilities of Cadet B. Wrong. You have no constitutional right to dictate the religious observance of any other person.

    • KelpieLass

      Under the Constitution of the U.S., the government (including schools) cannot say that one particular religious belief is good and approved, which is what the pledge as written does.

      Forbidding the mistreatment of people who are different from you is not indoctrination.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      If you were consistent with your argument that it’s ethical to discriminate against blacks if it’s for religious reasons – which you’re using right here – you’d still have exactly as little credibility as ever.

  • Paula M Marshall

    I will be faithful to the country I’m living in. Meaning I won’t wage war against it and won’t become a suicide bomber. Yeah, okay, really controversial there. Get over it and just leave out the under god.

  • Haitied

    When have we Ever had Liberty and Justice for all? Can someone please tell me that?

    • badgerchild

      In the pledge, it’s an ideal, not a statement that we currently have it. Do we want liberty and justice for all?

      The forced recitation is the problem, not the statements in it (with the exception of the grafted-in God language).

      • Haitied

        Oh, I remember it differently. I didn’t know the words were “One nation, Indivisible, where we strive for liberty and justice for all”. My mistake. . . I really have a hard time with your argument of “It’s not the content that’s the problem, It’s the forced recitation. . . and the content” . . . ? Please don’t try to tell me what my problem is with the pledge It’s absurd and insulting.

        • badgerchild

          Don’t be sarcastic and obtuse.

  • Jim Smith

    We had to do that in school also. Hell to this day I can play god shave *I mean save* the Queen on a recorder without pause. That was 30 years ago. I was born in Australia, where patriotic zeal is finally trying to match its American counterparts in religious overtones. I had an issue enough at the time having to pretend to audibly sing the word god as I was an atheist at a tender age, even though our public school system had religious education every Friday morning, and flag and national anthem ceremonies every morning.

    As a human being, I find it disturbing that this crap is still being drilled into kids, but you can get fired for getting them to learn how to think rationally by challenging gods, religions or political ideology. Yeah, I tell people now when they ask me what nationality I am. I say “global citizen or human, but for you pigeon holers and census folk, Australian British”…

  • DJ

    In the district I live in, the pledge period of the morning has morphed into some sort of time consuming monster.

    It starts with a period of silence “for prayer, meditation, or other silent activity” (that line, I’m sure, is a “covering our arse” legal maneuver). This is followed by the pledge of allegiance (ever notice that the cadence of how the pledge is said is always the same? Creepy…). After this, they add a STATE pledge. Yes, this state (Oklahoma) now has it’s own pledge. It is actually less religious in tone and advocates “diversity”, but nevertheless is kinda silly. Then, the school district “pledge”, which could have come out of the pages of “7 Healthy Habbits”.

    Finally, something actually useful, daily announcements.

  • natsera

    As a high school ESL teacher for 16 years, I didn’t do the pledge. My students were not US citizens, for the most part, and I didn’t want to set them up for conflict between their feelings for their native countries and for the US. Then, I was assigned to teach middle-school science, and realized that it’s really against my OWN principles to say the pledge, for many reasons, some of which were touched upon by Terry. I think we need every single minute of the teaching day for real education, not for memorized gibberish, nor for the repeated Christian holiday themes year after year after year. But I know I’m in the minority.

  • DJ

    I found out something a little disturbing. The reason the “district pledge” sounds like it could be something from the pages of a self help booklet is because it actually was inspired BY “7 Healthy Habits”. In fact, they are teaching these “habits” to kids in class, having them make posters depicting the “habits”, and so on. What the heck? Isn’t that old self help book some sort of mormon propaganda? Do they even realize that? I’m guessing they don’t. It’s rather disgusting, as these “7 habits” are just a disguised way of saying “you are personally responsible for everything that happens in your life, good or bad, so stop complaining, attitude is everything”.

    Funnily enough, they have this weird need to assign normal requests of kids as attributes of “leaders” to encourage them to do it. Things like “A leader does all their homework” or (and I wish I was making this up) “A leader listens to instruction”.

  • spydre

    Generally, what I do is simply leave the words “under god” out. I only found out recently that my kids had been doing the same thing in high school, by their own choice – we hadn’t even discussed whether the Pledge was still said at the high school level.


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