American Legion Withholds Donations from Park District Because Board Member Won’t Stand for Pledge of Allegiance

Remember how American Legion Post 311 refused to attend a Veterans Day ceremony at a local public high school in Pennsylvania after the district’s superintendent told them he would not allow their chaplain say a prayer at the event?

Now, another American Legion group is punishing a public institution for not catering to their juvenile demands.

Morton Grove (Illinois) Park District Commissioner Dan Ashta is someone who doesn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings for good reason:

Commissioner Dan Ashta

“I’m not entirely sure it’s accurate to say this is a personal choice, but more of a duty. I have an obligation as an elected official to uphold the constitution,” Ashta said. “I have a sincere, serious relationship with the law. I study law and constitutional law is of particular interest to me. I think the Constitution is what makes this country great and worth making sacrifices for. Countries with weak constitutions usually don’t last… I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I have no objections to people who do stand for the pledge.”

Sounds like a perfectly respectable position for a city official to take.

But American Legion Post 134 refuses to give any more money to the park district unless Ashta stands up and pledges allegiance to a nation “under God”:

“On behalf of our post, it is with some regret that we fully respect the right of individuals to not stand during the pledge of allegiance,” Lampert said. “All veterans have been willing to lose their lives for that right, and many have. With that being said, while we support that right, we do not accept it.

“Regrettably, we will be withholding funds from the park district until such time that everyone rises for the pledge,” Lampert continued. “We feel that it’s disrespectful to all veterans that have been willing to sacrifice their lives for this country and it is a great dishonor to all servicemen and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and died for this country.”

Yeah! Our veterans died so you could have the freedom to express your beliefs! And if you express them, we’re gonna punish you! We love the Constitution, just not the First Amendment!

Post 134 gave the city around $2,600 a year to sponsor events like the annual Fourth of July fireworks. But not anymore. (Lampert’s childish tirade can be heard here.)

To be fair, Post 134 can spend its members’ money however it wants. It’s under no obligation to give the money to the city. But how petty do you have to be to punish the residents of Morton Grove because one of the park district’s board members doesn’t want the Pledge to be on the meeting’s agenda? There’s just no reason to believe Ashta is being disrespectful to veterans through his actions.

It turns out there’s a way we can fix this problem, though, and it’s inspired by how generous you’ve all been in recent days when the situation called for it.

I’d like our community to raise $2,600 for the Morton Grove Park District to make up for the American Legion’s hissy fit.

I’ve set up a page on GoFundMe where you can pitch in (As always, I will provide proof that all money raised goes to the Park District).

Will you help show the American Legion that we support elected officials whose patriotism isn’t defined by whether or not they stand for the Pledge?

(via ABA Journal — Thanks to Brian for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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