Oh, well, that's all right then.

I don't say the pledge of allegiance; I actually find it rather offensive that I'm expected to give a loyalty oath to a political entity if I attend a school board meeting. So I was a little sympathetic to this story of a student was kicked out of school for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But then…the school administrators made a fast about face and decided to let her return to school. Why, you might wonder…but I think you can guess.

She simply said she was a devout Christian and could not make oaths to anyone but her god.

Zooom! Excused!

So this means an atheist student wouldn't have an excuse and could be compelled to recite an oath to a nation "under god"? Charming double standard there.

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The pledge is an interesting thing.

Apparently, created by a flag salesman.

I wonder why people don't pledge allegiance to "the ideals of the constitution", would make more sense to me.

Plus, of course, the infamous addition of "under god" when the country was up against the godless commies . . .

But what do I know? I'm Canadian.

By Atomicmutant (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

It's the end times! Christians are being repressed everywhere!

In opposite land.

Actually, her lawyer simply pointed out to the board that TN law specifically states that it is illegal to sanction any student for refusing the pledge. We're not all illiterate red necks down here. At least the lawyers can read if school board members and principles can't.

By TomDunlap (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

I would much rather pledge to a concept or ideal rather than something physical. I've always wondered that too Atomicmutant.

As far as the reasoning goes for her expulsion and her return, there needs to be a way for AU to get involved. The student most assuredly will not want AU involved on her behalf, so I wonder if there is any means for recourse. This kind of behavior by the school is absolutely outrageous and anti-America. Sometimes these people really exercise my capacity for hate, I mean compassion.

But what do I know? I'm Canadian.

???You mean Canadians don't say The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag?

Rather shocking. We've invaded countries with oil for a lot less. Keep it quiet, I'm sick of having friends die in wars.

As I understand it, though, public schools are not allowed to require students to recite the pledge.

In fact, that is one of the main defenses I have heard made for keeping "under god" in the pledge, that no one can be required by public schools to say it.

My guess is that any objecting atheist would be quickly excused, while the requirement itself exists only because the school doesn't understand that they actually have no legal grounds to have such a requirement.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

T.C.A. 46-1-1001(c)(1), in relevant part, states that 'Each board of education shall determine the appropriate time during the school day for the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance...

However, that no student shall be compelled to recite the Pledge of allegiance if the student or the student's parent or legal guardian objects on religious, philosophical or other grounds to the student's participating in such exercise.

Students who are thus exempt from reciting the pledge shall remain quietly standing or sitting at their desk while others recite the pledge of allegiance, and shall make no display that disrupts or distracts others who are reciting the pledge of allegiance.'"

By TomDunlap (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

The US values belief in things with no evidence (faith) over genuine moral principles.
If people started thinking for themselves, where would it end? Those atheists are bad enough, but wait until people start realizing that pledging allegiance to a bit of cloth is just as irrational as religion.

By Christianjb (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Forcing someone to say the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional anyway. It got decided thanks to West Virginia over a half century ago.

TomDunlap @ #3, if what you are saying is accurate, then the linked story is kind of skewed in my opinion. It left me with the impression that there was no consideration of the state's mandates regarding the pledge. The activity you described certainly would fit in the story if one could read between the lines.

"a student was kicked out of school for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance".... in the United States of America?

I hope those Irony Meters are still running.

Here's a relevant quote regarding the legality of requiring anyone to repeat the pledge:

Joint Resolution of Congress to codify existing rules and customs pertaining to display and use of flag of the United States does not require any person to repeat the pledge of allegiance to flag. Bolling v. Superior Court for Clallam County, 1943, 133 P.2d 803, 16 Wash.2d 373.

www.sar.org/history/flag/Pledge-act.html

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

The school administrators could (hypothetically speaking) point out that saying the pledge is offering a deference to god because of the McCarthy test "one nation under god". I wonder how the student would respond in that case.

I wonder if the student was turning this around on the administrators.

As a part time high school teacher, I hear the pledge each morning. At first I felt extremely uncomfortable saying the "Under God" bit. So I would sometimes stoop to tie my shoe at the strategic moment. Then later, I considered not saying the pledge, but that, I figured, would frighten the kids and get me fired. So now I just gulp twice after "one nation,". Nobody seems to notice.

Wait a minute. Doesn't the "under God" bit make this a prayer? What's it doing in schools anyway?

By rickflick (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

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"under God" was inserted into the pledge by congress in the 50's during the cold war. It was, I think, a political statement to differentiate our thinking from "Godless Communism", not a theological statement. I grew up reciting the previous pledge. We made it through WWII with the previous pledge, so my conservative side says that "under God" is new-fangled revisionism and should be reversed.

President Bush has argued that Jeffersonian Democracy is the best government for everyone of every race and creed; that it is not a Christian idea, good only for Christian nations. The inclusion of "under God" undermines his arguments.

In addition, there is a time correlation between the insertion of "under God" and the emergence of Rock-n-Roll, and the accellerated downward slide of Western Civilization. Do you think there was any causation involved?

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

#5, Canadians have our own durn flag! I don't think there's a pledge for it, though.

We got a lot of diff'rnt things up nort.

It's almost . . . un-American.

But I'm a transplant, in Minnesota. Someone told me I was moving south, and I bought into it. Oooh, warmer! :)

Regarding that girl, I'm sure once the likes of Mike Huckabee got through with the constitution, she wouldn't
have a problem with it.

In the movie "Jesus Camp", didn't they pledge allegiance to George W.??

Blech.

By Atomicmutant (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

I got threatened with physical violence by my homeroom teacher* in 9th grade** for refusing to recite the pledge one day.***

*Also the football coach. Go figure.
**In rural Kansas, where the constitution is considered a subversive document.
***I stood up and said the damn thing.

umm...
i'm no legal scholar, but hasn't this been dealt with before?
-West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)?
and in a bizarre twist, we can apparently thank the jehovah's witnesses for pressing the issue...
(but let's not get carried away)

By lithopithecus (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

d'oh!
looks like i kinda missed the point of the good doctor's post.
(returns to lurking)

By lithopithecus (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Tennessee heh? No surprise there and the responses? No suprise there either other than the fact they were capable of picking their knuckles off of the floor they were dragging them on in order to type in their response.

So basically, he finds out that she isn't one of those goddamned free thinkers after all. She has good and proper philosophy of obedience and submissiveness, to the proper god --which makes everything all right. Just a big misunderstanding...

By RamblinDude (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

As I understand it, the original pledge was "I pledge allegiance to MY flag and the republic for which it stands..." with no "under god". It was meant as a pledge for anyone from anywhere to pledge to their country's flag. It was not meant to be solely for America. And it was written by a Baptist Anarchist of sorts.

The Pledge of Allegiance with the "under god" thing is equivalent to praying, so I'm surprised anyone is allowed to recite it in a public school. I suppose in a bible belt state like Tennessee nobody cares about the Establishment Clause.

Oops, not Anarchist...Socialist.

#1: No, the pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and outspoken socialist. The pledge was a statement of American ideals of equality and liberty, probably designed in some ways to assuage American fears about socialism. It gained in popularity throughout the early 20th century, and was amended several times to broaden it out a bit. The "under g-d" line was added in during the height of the Red Scare.

Personally, I don't recite the pledge, and will not until the "under g-d" line is removed. However, as an educator, I do think that there is some value in the sentiment expressed in the pledge. The pledge is used most in public schools, and part of a public education is to prepare students for life in a democratic society. The pledge, in only a few lines, summarizes the goals of our democratic society -- "...one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." To me, this emphasizes the importance participation in democracy, and the values that the democracy should strive to uphold.

I agree that uncritical recitation of the pledge is bad. I agree that the line "under g-d" should be removed. However, I do not think that the pledge is fundamentally a bad thing.

If I still had to recite the pledge of allegiance, I would refuse. Not just because it says "god" but because it's forced. Because I should not have to pledge allegiance to my countries flag. Because I don't respect it anymore. But I guess when you're a kid you don't know either way. So does that make it ok to force them to? I think not, but I don't think they care; I know I didn't when I was that young. More grown-ups fussing over things the kids don't absorb/understand anyway I spoze.

By kcanadensis (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

One of the problems with the pledge in schools is that in many schools a large percentage of the students are not American citizens. In some countries, like the US, pledging allegence to a foreign power is punishable by death.

"In some countries, like the US, pledging allegence to a foreign power is punishable by death."

Say what?

When was the last American citizen put to death for pledging allegiance to another country?

There's quite a few American citizens out there right now with dual citizenship.

Are you suggesting they are vulnerable to arrest and execution?

By Senecasam (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

#29: "If I still had to recite the pledge of allegiance, I would refuse."

Atheist students should replace "under god" with "fuck god", and they should say "fuck god" as loud as possible. Christian assholes who don't respect other people's rights need to understand not everyone shares their childish sky fairy fantasies.

I was an elementary school teacher for two years.

I never said the pledge once and neither did any student in my class.

It helped that our school was falling apart and didn't have a working PA system, so there were no morning announcements. I just never brought it up and no one ever complained. The only person who ever said anything about it was the Jehovah's Witness who thanked me for not humiliating her 7-year-old every morning.

Great advice, BobC. One of the few actions I could have taken to make my public school experience any more hellish than it was.

I don't know where you live, but in most of the country, this would be an invitation to a beating, and most likely complete ostracism.

Be realistic, man.

It's just a stupid suggestion. There are lots of places for such goddamn fucking profanity, and this is certainly one of them.

Oh, so youre promoting profanity in the classroom? Yes, that certainly would make public school even more hellish...

Senecasam: Just be careful, that's all I'm sayin'

But seriously, it is rather offensive, I would think, for, say, a kid from Mexico who is a Mexican citizen to be asked to recite the pledge of allegiance once a week or once a day.

"...they should say "fuck god" as loud as possible...."

Actually, I would have a hard time getting so riled up and fervent about telling something imaginary to fuck off. The xtian deity, along with every other deity, is a fabrication or irrelevant. It's meaningless. I can't get so worked up over something so meaningless. Now, forcing someone to associate their patriotic feelings with a belief they find inconsistent and foolish is wrong. To those who would force that onto anyone I would gladly tell to fuck off.

No, I'm fucking promoting profanity here. In my case, as I recall, it was the teacher using profanity when he threateded me for not saying the pledge.

I too think that the forced recital of allegiance to the nation (and physical flag, apparently) by kids who are too young to make up their own minds about such things is more insulting than the under god line...though that one gets me too. Back in school, I think I just lip synced the whole damn thing.

Would it be apprropriate for me to say "fuck Darwin" in a discussion about his trip to the Galapagos in a 7th grade classroom?

IOKIYAC: It's OK If You're A Christian.

Closely related to IOKIYAR, and with a strongly overlapping catchment.

I've heard of similar situations related to the likes of the church of the LDS in this area. Saying the pledge in school is appalling in itself, because it's so opposite of what it stands for. I'll stand for it, but I won't say it...

They can kick me out if they want.

http://copache.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/teach-the-controversy/

I think we should keep this civil. How about everyone just toning down the language a bit? Say things like, I don't believe in god, I believe in gosh, and if you don't believe in gosh, then you'll be darned to heck. Ah fuck it. That shit was stupid. Fuckin' - what ever.

Its pretty weird that you guys have to do that.
I cant imagine ever being forced to pledge allegiance here in New Zealand.
We get none of that super patriotic crap :D

#32- The United States does not officially recognize dual citizenship. Under U.S. law if you are a U.S. citizen then you are only recognized as a U.S. citizen, end of discussion. It sounds weird, but for all practical purposes it's less "other countries bad!" and more "we really don't care who else calls you a citizen, just follow our laws."

I don't know enough to comment on the pledging to foreign powers thing though, but I guess you could (after very very much stretching) lump it with treason in some form.

By Bouncing Bosons (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

The inclusion of "under God" undermines his arguments.

Hell, why stop there?

The inclusion of logic itself undermines just about all of "Bush's" arguments.

Rather than saying "fuck god" loudly, may I suggest using the name of a different deity every day, starting with "under Satan". Then maybe we'll see how "symbolic" and "not religious" people really think the inclusion of "under God" is.

And I don't think xtians count as "everybody".

You can see both sides of the argument at procon.org, particularly with the inclusion of "under God", though there is a lot of background history about the pledge itself in all of its incarnations. Lots of interesting maps and graphs detailing where the pledge is compulsory and where it is optional.

http://www.undergodprocon.org/

I didn't have to say the Pledge when I was in grade school (and that was 45 years ago!). I got a "philosophical" waver, and the Jehovah Witness in my class (who couldn't pledge allegiance to a country) gor a religious waiver. Of course, this was Northern California...

If a student stands and shows respect, if not to the flag, to the country, to the teacher or to the classroom, is anyone really going to know (or care) that they're not saying the Pledge?

In short, she didn't get a pass because she's a Christian, she got a pass because she objected.

"You shouldnt go lumping Christians with Bush. Not everybody is as moronic as he is."

I clicked on your blog link and am now forced to disagree.

I wonder why people don't pledge allegiance to "the ideals of the constitution", would make more sense to me.

Sure, but what is the point for the vast majority of citizens to ever say it at all? The USA are the only non-dictature* that has a pledge of allegiance...

* Hmmm. MORONARCHY, oiligarchy... but I digress. (I hope.)

In some countries, like the US, pledging allegence to a foreign power is punishable by death.

How does that square with concepts like double citizenship?

In the movie "Jesus Camp", didn't they pledge allegiance to George W.??

Let me fulfill Godwin's Law, then.

However, as an educator, I do think that there is some value in the sentiment expressed in the pledge. The pledge is used most in public schools, and part of a public education is to prepare students for life in a democratic society.

This is precisely why the pledge is a bad thing. What is this talk about allegiance to a piece of cloth and a piece of soil? That sounds like "my country right or wrong", which is the very opposite of democracy. Why isn't it allegiance to the Constitution, if there's a pledge at all?

Also, how on the planet does learning something by rote at an age when children don't even understand it contribute to teaching democracy? Every time such a thread comes up, someone posts about how they used to say things like "and to the Republican, Richard Sands, one vegetable..." Typical 19th-century ideology. TSIB.

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

#21 writes:

and in a bizarre twist, we can apparently thank the jehovah's witnesses for pressing the issue...
(but let's not get carried away)

It's not getting carried away. However screwed up their belief system is in both theory and practice, we do owe the Jehovah's Witnesses thanks for the development of a whole lot of modern First Amendment doctrine.

For more background, see William Shepard McAnich, A Catalyst for the Evolution of Constitutional Law: Jehovah's Witnesses in the Supreme Court, University of Cincinnati Law Review vol. 55, p. 997 (1987).

I wonder how common saying the pledge daily in schools is in America? I would imagine that this kind of requirement would likely be hard to implement. I am sure the most of the students would find the change silly and teachers would likely be more interested in teaching the students than saying the pledge.

By Robert M. Bradford (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Atomicmutant: But what do I know? I'm Canadian.
well, you think that's all bad. I escaped to Canada from the UK (One nation under CCTV), and now to get my citizenship here I have pledge allegiance to the fucking queen? Give me break.

My mistake, upon further research it seems that it isn't that dual citizenship is not recognized, but that it is "problematic and strongly discouraged" or some such.

On another note, I give up: what tag do I use for quotes?

By Bouncing Bosons (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

What's troublesome to me, and what I see as the issue here, is not the whole pledge issue (it is apparent that's been dealt with), but that there was no one on the school's entire administrative team who said, "wait a minute, can we stop and make sure we're not violating any student's rights by kicking them out of school?" There should have been at least one adult somewhere on campus that was aware of laws pertaining to saying the pledge.

You don't need permission, or a waiver, or anything to opt out of the pledge; the only requirement is you not be a jerk while others are saying it. As a high school teacher, I don't believe in saying the pledge, but you can bet I don't allow students to continue their conversations or yell or anything while others are saying it. It makes more sense to me to use it as a teaching moment that encourages tolerance and respect for others' beliefs rather than as a weapon to enforce some ideology (either for or against the pledge) on my students.

When the constitutionality of adding the words "under God" to the pledge -- or changing the official motto of the United States from "E Pluribus Unum" (From Many, One) to "In God We Trust" has been challenged in courts, the (successful) legal defense has been that this is nothing more than "Ceremonial Deism." In other words, it's a recognition of tradition only, and a ritual done for ceremony -- like saying "Oyez, oyez" when the judge enters the court, or "I swear by the God Apollo" in the Hypocratic oath.

It doesn't mean anything about God. It doesn't establish a religion. It's not supposed to be a religious statement. It's just for show, and historic.

Bullshit.

We know it's bullshit, and they know it's bullshit. When Michael Newdow was making a case for the unconstitutionality of reciting the pledge in public school -- because of the words "under God" -- the defense lawyers were arguing that the pledge wasn't saying anything about believing in God. It was just over-sensitivity that had this atheist thinking it did.

And while they were making their case for Ceremonial Deism the public was outside the courthouse having prayer meetings, screaming to Jesus, talking in tongues, and generally thrashing around like a lot of superstitious yahoos. Don't take God away!! Gee, they seemed to think it DID have something to do with believing in God.

"Ceremonial Deism" my ass. There's probably not an atheist in the US who hasn't been told, directly or indirectly, that they're not really a true citizen, because this is "one nation UNDER GOD" and "In God WE Trust." We who? We Real Americans. They take it as a kind of law, a litmus test. An American who rejects God is like an American who rejects the Constitution. Technically, they're allowed to vote ... sure. Technically, they're citizens.

But why would they want to be? They aren't really partaking of what this country means. They can't understand where the Constitution gets its authority. Not from "We The People." But from God.

I've met a lot of atheists who think that, for pragmatic and political purposes, we should just let the pledge and motto "slide." It only upsets people to try to change them, and they mean nothing. They cause no direct harm. I used to agree.

It's only symbolic.

Symbolic of how important our government thinks it is to believe in God. Everything else is commentary.

I wonder how common saying the pledge daily in schools is in America? I would imagine that this kind of requirement would likely be hard to implement. I am sure the most of the students would find the change silly and teachers would likely be more interested in teaching the students than saying the pledge.

You overlook the fact that many, perhaps most, Americans are 50 years behind the rest of the 1st World* in one respect: they are still patriots, and thus consider the pledge a good and important thing (and automatically assume everyone in their right mind agrees).

* Except Switzerland, I think, but even they don't have a pledge.

On another note, I give up: what tag do I use for quotes?

<blockquote>This one.</blockquote>

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

How about replacing "under god" with "under Canada".

At least a little more factual. Well, unless you live in Hawaii or Alaska.

And I admit that I stole this from a Jon Carroll article in the SF Chronicle many many years ago. But I've liked it ever since I read it.

Long before I questioned the existence of a god, I questioned the state-worship I was being forced to engage at while at school.

"I swear by the God Apollo" in the Hypocratic oath.

What? That really does make it a hypocritic oath then, I suppose.

(Sorry for exposing the inadvertent pun. Was it a Freudian slip? You meant Hippocratic. Hippokrates = horse-ruler.)

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Well said Sastra.

"You overlook the fact that many, perhaps most, Americans are 50 years behind the rest of the 1st World* in one respect: they are still patriots, and thus consider the pledge a good and important thing (and automatically assume everyone in their right mind agrees)."

Well growing up in a small college town in Ohio may have warped my view, but I can't help thinking that the schools that require the pledge are part of a different America than the one I know.

By Robert M. Bradford (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

David Marjanovich #66 wrote:

Was it a Freudian slip? You meant Hippocratic.

Arrrgh -- I knew I should have checked spelling.
Yes, I meant Hippocratic.
No, it was not a "Freudian slip" -- because Freud was probably the most overrated pseudoscientist of the 20th century.
It was a blunder. ;)

Seriously, why do so many shitheads (creationist science teachers, pledge-pushing principals, etc.) go into [mis]education in the first place?

How about replacing "under god" with "under Canada".

Does Detroit get a special deal since they go south to get to Canada?

By freelunch (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Keep it quiet, I'm sick of having friends die in wars.

Posted by: raven | April 23, 2008 5:56 PM

I agree that religion should play absolutely no part in a justification as to why this pledge is objected against - the reasons for that seem painfully obvious since such an objection involves the choice of choosing loyalty to the church over the state. Since the two are not mutual in their aims, this is a faulty reason for refusing to recite the pledge, in my opinion. What follows is my - probably a bit long winded, you guys know me by now - explanation of why this pledge is an intellectual insult to the individual minds of our citizens and their actual dedication to the ideals of America.

I love my country, but they (the administration that has led - of you can call it that - this country for the past seven years) have perverted the virtue of patriotism and redefined it in a way that prevents any criticism of their actions and labels such thoughts and expressions as somehow anti-American.

So, as much as I am endeared to this country, and as much as I have tried to contribute to it, I also am sickened by the fact that it mandates children to "pledge allegiance" to its symbol of cloth and thread. It seems creepily similar to totalitarian indoctrination to me, and if a child is intelligent enough to think for themselves and decide that they do not need to participate in a purely symbolic gesture, then I have no problem with such inclinations.

What should be occurring is that we should be teaching these children WHY this country needs to persevere, which involves teaching an accurate history of the principles on which it was founded. They need to learn the value of individual liberty, the principles of the democratic process, the value and importance of participating in that process, and the necessity of educating themselves adequately to ensure that they can be informed participants, rather than voters left malleable to the persuasions - and outright manipulations - that the political situation of today foists upon the electorate.

So, to close, I whole-heartedly agree with you Raven. The 'it' in your above statement though, in my mind, should refer to the Pledge itself. If we cannot objectively show our children why our country deserves their allegiance, then perhaps it doesn't deserve such allegiance until our leaders take a hard look at and change the way we conduct ourselves in today's global society. If we do not, I will continue to watch my friends and family have their sacrifice perverted by the greed and power-lust of those who use their positions in this country to further their own cliquish personal agendas, and I am utterly sick of seeing this happen, just as you are Raven.

If you think that by saying this I am somehow betraying America, then I'd like to less-than-politely say "fuck you." I don't resort to that kind of language much in my online posts, but this is an issue close to my heart. There are many aspects about me that are justifiably questionable, but my love of and sense of duty towards this country are NOT among them. Besides, the notion that criticizing this country's policies somehow displays an inherent hate for it in the speaker is utterly insidious, and maddeningly false. If I love someone or something, I will - and have a moral obligation to - do all that I can to keep it on the track dictated by its founding principles. It is the ones who demand dogmatic and blind allegiance that show their disregard for the tenets this country was founded upon, and such arrogance is not only intolerant, it is a very real threat to our stability and reputation as a leading nation in the global society.

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

#16.
That's brilliant.
I almost wish I were in elementary school again, so that I may confound my classmates.

I'm a bio teacher as my handle implies and in my public high school, the pledge is recited over the PA every day at the beginning of my bio class. And every day I just stand quietly and look around and don't say a bloody word of that ridiculous pledge. If my Bible-thumping baptist born again whatever principal has anything to say about, he can go you know what himself.

By bio teacher (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

My son is starting Kindergarten this fall. Me thinks he won't be saying it, if I have any say in the matter.

I read that it was Robin Williams who proposed, "One nation, under Canada, over Mexico." At the public high school I'm teaching at, in blue, blue, Massachusetts, the Pledge is said every day. Many of the students are non-citizens, but everyone stands. I quietly say only, "I pledge allegiance to the Constitution."

Christians get double standards all the time. Just try to bring a Bible into a school or workplace and find out what happens.

You overlook the fact that many, perhaps most, Americans are 50 years behind the rest of the 1st World* in one respect: they are still patriots, and thus consider the pledge a good and important thing (and automatically assume everyone in their right mind agrees).

Well-put. The entire concept of the pledge is deeply disturbing and occasionally even terrifying to me, and watching it being recited by groups of people gives me the chills. I'm pretty certain most Europeans feel the same way; this is a loyalty-oath-patriotism-nationalism-indoctrination type of thing that we just don't expect to see anywhere other than in communist countries or bizarre dictatorships. Having children recite it is even more disturbing.

Don't argue about the "under God" insertion, just don't make people pledge anything. Surprisingly, if the experience of other countries is anything to go by, they will not immediately wander off to commit high treason or refuse to pay taxes.

Christians get double standards all the time. Just try to bring a Bible into a school or workplace and find out what happens.

Posted by: Julie | April 23, 2008 8:49 PM

I'll tell you what happens. The holy-rollers go crazy and destroy the work environment. It becomes a toxic stew where they try to force their beliefs on everyone, form cliques and show a complete and utter lack of respect for the beliefs of others.

Productivity plummets as moral declines. When they get reigned in, after making this toxic work environment, they whine "persecution." Oft times what you have to do is make wholesale firings as the group dynamics have been destroyed.

Why, did you have another phony "Christian persecution" point to make?

Back in the early 70s, when I was in what we so quaintly referred to as junior high school, I absolutely refused to stand for the pledge or salute the flag. It had a little to do with the "under God" thing, which drove my atheist mother crazy, but mostly it was in protest of the Vietnam War. No one tried to kick me out for it, in fact I felt my homeroom teacher was rather in agreement. (She was also my science teacher.) Admittedly, those were much different times. My mother told me they could not make me say the pledge, and that she would back me to the hilt if anyone tried to make me do it.

Jehovah's Witnesses have historically refused to say the pledge, for it violates the principle expressed by the young woman in your post. The Courts have fairly consistently decided in favor of the Witnesses on this position, I believe. Loyalty oaths are clearly unconstitutional.

This is a loser for the wingnuts in court, but the dumbasses just keep trying and trying to force kids to say it. They don't do it at my son's school at all, I don't believe. But it just so happens that my son's school is where the famous Tinker case happened. They learned their lesson. Also it's in a very liberal district.

I proudly bellow out my country's national anthem, 'God Save The Queen', even though I'm an atheist. Is it hypocritical? No, I acknowledge it as symbolic, as does pretty much everyone else in my country.

I'm not saying it's the same thing in the US though, I mean you guys have church/state separation and the whole 'Under God' thing is an obvious violation of that. As is the Presidential Oath...

I say the pledge EVERY day. Not because I'm necessarily patriotic, or because I like the "under God" part. I simply love it, absolutely love it, when everybody madly devolves into chaos when they hear "one nation under FSM".

I was watching the DVD of my son's graduation a while ago. I was very proud he was graduating, even prouder that he was a class officer. He gave a great speech, too. Anyway, the camera was panning the audience during The Pledge, and just happened to be on the class officers at the "one nation..." part. I did not see it on the actual day of his graduation, as I was too far away, but on the DVD he fills the screen as he recites " one nation... indivisible".

One of the better things is, I know that he was not the only one.

My father (born in 1937) told me that the Pledge used to have an accompanying arm motion. It would start with the familiar hand-over-heart stance for the "I pledge allegiance" part, but at "to the flag" the reciter would extend his right arm to point at the flag.

He says that went out the window when the Nazis (with their similar salute) came to power. Urban legend? Or was that part of it way back when?

Note: Please don't say "Godwin"!

This is not news to any experienced public school teacher, but these cases are perfect moronometers for school administrators. Someone above got it right: what were they thinking? For every situation where such a bonehead decision is made, fifty more (ok, ten more in Tennessee) are resolved in a fair and reasonable way without any worry or grief or press. Whatever the extreme, somebody in any given high school will exceed it within a month. (that's another "law" candidate, I guess.) Any administrator worth his salary salt could handle this easily. But there are plenty who don't want to handle it; they are spoiling for a chance to teach the little jesus freak/atheist a lesson, and the result is a widely broadcast clarion call of incompetence, a grand public smoking-out of an educator who needs to move in to real estate immediately.

In my day as a prodigy of annoying extremes, long about 1977, a group of friends (Everett, are you listening?) began to carry Chairman Mao's little red book as a protest against some forgotten trivial political slight by the administration. The smart ones were happy to ignore us, and probably knew that we hadn't really read it (awful stuff.) But one, a Mr. Daly, quivered with indignation every time he saw me. That of course gave me great stamina to continue. Finally he snapped and got in my face one day and said, in front of about 200 witnesses, and I quote, (this is a professional educator, mind you): "I saw enough gooks over the sights of an M-16 in Vietnam. I'm not going to let you little shitfuckers pollute this institution with your pinko whining." Of course, that was all we needed; we deviled that poor man until graduation. Just doing our jobs!

Seems like Mr. Freshwater of the other post is of the same ilk (though of course they come in all political and religious stripes.) If you're going to succeed as a public school teacher you have to deal with kids. The most die-hard anti-religious assistant principal should have been able to solve the Pledge problem in about four minutes; that they didn't means less that they're religious whackos--I know quite a few of those who are fine teachers. It means that they are crappy teachers or principals.

ice

#48, the US government certainly does recognize dual citizenship, although it doesn't think real highly of it.

It used to require renunciation of previous citizenship for naturalized Americans, but that no longer is the case, because in many instances the person's previous country did not recognize renunciation.

And Greg, I agree with you about being careful. I've been vigilant since the sixties, when my government told me that if I didn't put on their uniform and assist in their invasion of a far eastern country they would deprive me of my liberty for many years.

For I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

By senecasam (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

The important part of the pledge is "and to the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
The flag itself is merely a symbol of that idea.
But, you ask, why does a simple piece of colored cloth rate so much attention ? Good question. Some have opined that it's because we have no hereditary figurehead like a queen or king to point at. Me, I don't know. but I think if it's necessary to have such, it's better to have a piece of colored cloth to point at than the invisible dragon in my garage.

I became an atheist during middle school, and actually asked one of my teachers what I should do about the Pledge. She said to simply stay silent during "under God", or to stand but not recite the Pledge at all. Apparently the teachers in California are better informed than the ones in Tennessee.

When my kids were still in school, they left out the g_d part, and at the end, would say, as they'd learned in Northern CA, "... and liberty and justice for those who can afford it."
Didn't earn them too many brownie points but hey... speakin' the truth.
Liberty and justice for all? HA.

By gramomster (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

The pledge is a creepy practice with or without the imaginary friend at the end. The desire for mindless obedience that motivated a teacher to harass me for defecting from the practice seemed bizarre when I was a child, and seeing worse things now grates on me. I have to say that I am surprised any public school employees have the gall to try to kick a student out for defecting. Sheesh, so much bother over a loyalty pledge to a symbol in a society known for its insistence that it is free.

I suppose the administrators don't want to comment because they don't want to admit that they had to allow the student back in as a "reasonable accommodation" under the ADA as being scientifically-challenged. OK, perhaps I go too far, but seriously, I thought of how to handle the Moment of Silence AND the Pledge of Allegiance in one stroke:

http://logicalextremes.blogspot.com/2008/04/moment-of-silence-for-pledg…

Wow, I just realized I've never said the pledge.

It wasn't the "under God" bit that got me, it was the whole "I pledge" thing: we have a contract here between citizens and government, and I'd agreed to follow that. Sure as hell wasn't promising to give up any rights beyond that.

Teachers got a bit pissed when I also refused to stand for the pledge (unless already standing) on the grounds that it was tacit approval.

The school just backed down quietly (Texas!) and dealt with it.

I remember when I stopped saying the Pledge. I think it was around 5th grade. I never had to say it again. Then the WTC attacks occurred while I was in high school and then all of a sudden *POOF* they started saying the Pledge of Allegiance as part of the morning announcements. I refused to stand up and recite it. I had no idea why. I think it was because I felt it was fake, like most of high school. As if they were just doing it for show and not doing it because they really believed the words but because they were afraid of being seen as unpatriotic in such a somber time. I just sat quietly in my desk doing last-minute studying. lol.

It's interesting to me that this forced recitation of allegiance is so fiercely defended in the 'Bible Belt' when you think of the fact that one of the most significant phrases at the time the Pledge was written was "one nation, indivisible"--a statement that had been bloodily disputed in living memory by a lot of that same geographical area.

Then again, there is a seeming fetish among fundamentalist Christians of a certain type for the efficacy of magic words. Just as that magic prayer you have to say to be saved (according to some) must be in the proper formula to work, or the phrase "I'll pray for you" serves as an unanswerable magic trump card for disagreement, perhaps they think anyone disloyal would be unable to mouth the pledge without bursting into flame. Or alternately, that the magic words would drive out the Disloyaty Spirits.

Steve "It's not the thought that counts, but the words." James

By longstreet63 (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Some more pledges from around the world. Good healthy things for youngsters of all nationalities.

The pledge of the youth:

Speaker (one of the youth celebrating the event):

We affirm:
The German people has been created by the will of God.
All those who fight for the life of our people, and those who died,
Carried out the will of God.
Their deeds are to us holy obligation

All the boys and girls participating:

This we believe.

Speaker:

We affirm that God gave us all our strength,
In order to maintain the life of our people
And defend it. It is therefore our holiest
Duty to fight to our last breath
Anything that threatens or endangers the life
Of our people. God will decide
Whether we live or die.

Everyone present: This we pledge.

Speaker:

We want to be free from all selfishness.
We want to be fighters for this Reich
Named Germany, our home.
We will never forget that we are German.

Everyone present: That is what we want.

China:

I am a Young Pioneer. I pledge under the Young Pioneer flag that I am determined to follow the guidance of the Chinese Communist Party, to study hard, work hard and be ready to devote all my strength to the Communist cause.

And they got red neckerchiefs, too!

We had a Jehovah's Witness family in a southern Minnesota town 45 years ago. The kids didn't stand or recite the pledge. No one cared or thought anything about it. The town's name meant "stinking water" in Souxian. Any guesses?

By BlindSquirrel (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

India:

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness. <\blockquote>

It's the end times! Christians are being repressed everywhere!

Understand that, in the alternate universe that wingnuts occupy, any reaching out to non-dominant groups = oppression of dominant group. Hence why they think affirmative action policies intended to counter anti-minority discrimination in the labor is oppression of white males.

Shifting back to topic, does anyone else here think patriotism is overrated? It seems to me nothing more noble
than a modern-day manifestation of tribalistic, "us vs them" thinking.

By Brandon P. (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

I always imagined the Hippocratic oath was recited at some dramatic ceremony, like the doctors' graduation. Nope, at least in Georgia. They study it in a class, then move on. In Georgia where I had to sign a loyalty oath to work for the state.

By BlindSquirrel (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

@ Matt from #81,
The Constitution explicitly forbids any religious test for any "Office or public Trust under the United States". The actual oath (or affirmation, also allowed by the Constitution) ends with "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States".
That's it.

In my school, I am not sure if any kid says it, although we teachers are supposed to. I sometimes say it, although the fact that I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution makes it a bit of an ethical issue for me. Why swear allegiance to a flag, when I already made my oath long ago to the ideals embodied in the document that stands over and above that flag. That, and the whole "to the flag, and the country..." - swear allegiance to the flag itself - the one that says "Made in China"? WTF? I also skip over the "under god" bit - I don't swear to Santa, why YHVH?

And, being in Texas, I do NOT go for that idiotic pledge to the State. My oath of office overrules and petty allegiance to a local government, especially one run by a creationist fundie hack.

#62 Sastra --

Well put.

Proof of principle: Eisenhower, on the addition of "under God" to the pledge: "These words ["under God"] will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded."

Not only can you not be a real citizen, but if you do not believe in 'God', you are lacking in "the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man". Personally, I think this represents a real depravity of morality on the part of many theists -- that they seem to think that without an invisible man in the sky, there would be no such thing as morality and human dignity.

I remember reading McCain, Obama, and Clinton's views on evolution. While they all said that they do "believe in" evolution, all three of them had to qualify it with a statement about their equally firm belief in God. It was revolting. Official religious tests for office may be unconstitutional, but the fact is that an openly atheist candidate remains unelectable, which is simply depressing. What does that say about how the majority of Americans view atheists? Half-citizens at best....

By Etha Williams (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Moses: Yeah, I've seen that exact scenario you describe play out, except it was at my high school (rural southern Ontario in the early 1990s). A family of fundamentalist evangelical Christians moved into the attendance district when I was in grade 10, and by the time I graduated from grade 13, they'd converted over 90% of the student body (which was, granted, pretty religious to start with). I had to listen to the oldest kid in the family, a real smarmy ass, give thanks to Jesus during his commencement speech, to which I said, loud enough for the entire auditorium to hear, "Speak for yourself."

They were cliquey and nasty and things got really bigoted and hateful around there real fast, since according to them, the Bible justified every spare prejudice they had lying around. I had one friend who got called every single racial epithet in the book because they couldn't figure out which was the "right" one. I also got really frickin' sick of hearing everything from, "You wanna come to my church supper on Thursday night?" to "You know, I worry about you, because you're not saved and you won't go to Heaven when you die..."

"Persecuted" Christians, my ass. More bloody projection -- it's more like persecuting Christians.

Incidentally, count me among the "foreigners who think the Pledge of Allegiance is weird, creepy, American-exceptionalist shit" contingent.

By Interrobang (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

I never said the pledge in school, and never had a problem with it...then again, I was in Santa Monica, where not saying the pledge was almost a 'cool' thing amongst all my privileged, liberal 'non-comformist' peers.

Except in Latin class...always had to say the pledge there, because it was an exercise in learning Latin. And I still remember it, surprisingly, so I guess it was effective in its own way:

Fidem meam obligo, vexillo civitatium Americae Foederatorum; et rei publicae, pro qua stat, uni natione, deo ducente, cum libertate iustitiaque omnibus.

I still always left out the "deo ducente" part. Even if 'god' is indeed leading America, then he/she/it is doing a piss poor job of it and deserves no acknowledgment from me.

By Etha Williams (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Oops...screwed up the Latin pledge, left out the "individisible" bit. Should be:

Fidem meam obligo, vexillo civitatium Americae Foederatorum; et rei publicae, pro qua stat, uni natione, deo ducente, non dividendae, cum libertate iustitiaque omnibus.

By Etha Williams (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

As free-thinking parents trying to raise free-thinking kids, we have had this discussion at home about saying the pledge in class, particularly the "under God" part. Neither child felt comfortable NOT saying the pledge, but they really disliked having to say the "God" part, since that seemed like such a blatant lie to them. We came up with the idea of replacing "god" with "cod". It sounds enough like the original word so that no one notices, but it turns that portion of the pledge into the joke that it really is. My kids get to have a quiet chuckle and stay truer to themselves without having to deal with nasty questions and comments.

Sure I wish they felt comfortable expressing their views by not saying it at all. But even more do I wish that no one had to say it in the first place.

One nation, undereducated . . .

By noncarborundum (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

The Supreme Court decided sixty five years ago that compulsory flag saluting in public schools is unconstitutional. (See West Virginia State Board Of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). It's not even a close question. When will these pinheads get it? (Answer: never, I guess, if they still don't comprehend a clear First Amendment case two generations down the road . . . )

By beagledad (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Here's a little-known fun fact:

Three years before the famous Supreme Court decision that declared school Pledge requirements an unconstitutional imposition of religious orthodoxy, the Court had ruled 8-1 that such requirements were not unconstitutional and that the end of national unity is "inferior to none"; in the wake of this ruling, vigilante mobs began intimidating and violently attacking Jehovah's Witnesses for being anti-American.

The violence was overseen and assisted by local police officers, and about one-fifth of the 843 vigilante incidents involved members of the patriotic veterans' group the American Legion (currently clamoring for a anti-flag burning amendment). Techniques included: rounding and roping JW's like cattle, pouring castor oil down their throats (in one case a JW urinated blood), dousing their cars in castor oil and painting swastikas and Nazi-related epithets, draping a flag on a car and taking anyone who refused to salute or kiss the flag and smashing their heads into the car for up to nearly thirty minutes, destroying their cars with stones and bats, and in one case castration.

The majority opinion for the first case (Minersville School District v. Gobitis (here, 1940) was written by Felix Frankfurter. The majority for the second and more famous case (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (here, 1943) won only 6-3. Frankfurter dissented, acidly drawing attention to his own Jewishness.

According t the first amendment we have the freedom of speech. This also means we have the freedom from speech, meaning no on has to say the pledge if they don't feel like it.

Sad to say, but free speech for K-12 students is in deep trouble. See the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.

for the people reading and commenting in this thread on the issue of the 1st amendment and the pledge of allegiance...

have you donated to the ACLU yet?

if not, I would highly recommend it; this issue is still being fought by them on a near daily basis:

http://www.aclu.org/religion/schools/34409prs20080123.html

and if the religiously mis-minded think the ACLU never fights for your rights, think again:

http://www.aclu.org/religion/govtfunding/26526res20060824.html

See the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.

you mean this case:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_v._Frederick

yeah, the big issue there was SCOTUS deciding that "public schools" weren't really "public", and so exempted from "normal" free speech rules.

some great logic there.

Australian Citizenship Pledge #1
From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and liberties I respect,
And whose laws I will uphold and obey.

Australian Citizenship Pledge #2
From this time forward,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and liberties I respect,
And whose laws I will uphold and obey.

With or without unspecified deity; your choice. The pledge is read twice, and those taking the pledge stand for whichever version the choose. Used only at citizenship ceremonies. At the only ceremony I have attended, more people took the second version than the first. No foreign monarch, either, even though Australia is still a constitutional monarchy.

What is it with daily pledges of allegiance, anyway? What sort of countries have them? The only link, as far as I can see, is some sort of insecurity. Other countries just don't feel the need for this shit. After nearly 250 years of independence, isn't it time that you guys just relaxed a little?

I don't remember saying the pledge in school. I am a little surprised that it is used in schools. I do occasionally get unkind comments when I don't stand for the flag raising at baseball games or, of all things, horse racing events.

#86 is correct. The US does recognise dual citizenship, although there was a time when they didn't. My kids have both US and UK passports (I'm a Scot, my wife is from Michigan). At least my kids won't need to be fingerprinted, like common criminals, when they visit the US.

My cousin, who's French, had to go to school in California for a couple years. She had to recite the pledge. She didn't find it odd, but I did.
Anyway, to this European atheist, it's not just the "under God" part that's offensive, it's the very idea of saluting a flag and pledging allegiance. You know who else saluted his flag? As Chomsky said, the IIIrd Reich never really ceased to exist, it merely changed venues.

President Bush has argued that Jeffersonian Democracy is the best government for everyone of every race and creed - Jim Thomerson@17

Jeffersonian democracy? Is that the kind of democracy where only white males get to vote, the candidate with the most votes doesn't necessarily win, and slavery is legal?

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

"Lord" Peter Goldsmith, who was UK attorney-general at the time of the invasion of Iraq, and reversed his official opinion on its legality when Tony Bliar told him to, recently came out with the suggestion that children should be required to pledge loyalty to "Queen" Elizabeth Windsor on leaving school. I'm glad to say the proposal was greeted with almost universal derision. It's bad enough that we are parasitised by this disfunctional family, without children being required to assent to it!

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

It's crazy to pledge to "a flag". It's just a symbol!

Replace with the following:

"I swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC!"

The last word is best when shouted, while giving the stink-eye to the nearest GOP/school-admin fascist.

By Snarki, child … (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

My students are allowed to do/say exactly what they want. They can say or skip "under god." They can stand or sit. They can stand on their head and recite Jabberwocky for all I care. In that they have the right to say or not say what they wish there are two rules... do not disrupt anyone else's right (at least for those 30 seconds) and whatever they feel they must do they have to truly mean it. No BS.

I say it (skipping the fun part) because I am one of those liberals who still chokes up during the National anthem before the hockey game, on recordings of anything MLK or the Kennedy boys said and I still hope for "liberty and justice for all." I know. I'm hopeless and deluded but there I am.

Anyway, that's the fun side of urban teaching... its so under the radar.

What's odd is that I attended high school in Hamilton County Tennessee and during my two years there we never recited the pledge once. However, at that time (late 80s) the schools on the east side of the river (like Tyner) were known to be quite a bit more religious than the ones on the west side of the river (like Red Bank where I attended). I remember going to pick up a friend who was doing after school work at Ooltewah HS (on the east side) and being stunned at the religious posters on the wall. That shit would never have been allowed at my school.

By Sarcastro (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

I have to reiterate the comments by Sastra in #62, who hits the nail solidly on the head.

I remember when the 9th District originally ruled in favor of Newdow in striking out the "under God" part of the pledge, and the uproar it created. My wife asked, "What's the big deal about having 'under God' in the pledge?" I said, "Ask all the people who are complaining about having it removed!"

I always say, it's amazing how people get so into a tizzy about the possibility of not having "ceremonial deism."

I don't say the pledge of allegiance; I actually find it rather offensive that I'm expected to give a loyalty oath to a political entity - PZ

Couldn't agree more. I never fly the Stars and Stripes on the boat, but I do hoist high the navel Jack DON'T TREAD ON ME.

The "One Nation Under God" is a joke too. As a Christian, I see it as blatant hypocrisy.

I say it (skipping the fun part) because I am one of those liberals who still chokes up during the National anthem before the hockey game, on recordings of anything MLK or the Kennedy boys said and I still hope for "liberty and justice for all." I know. I'm hopeless and deluded but there I am.
Anyway, that's the fun side of urban teaching... its so under the radar.

Posted by: Heather | April 24, 2008 8:54 AM

That is a sentiment that I, as an atheist and an intensely devoted citizen of my country, share with you entirely, save for the actual act of reciting the pledge. Just because I do not choose to recite the pledge on command does not mean that at baseball games or other sporting events I do not still rise and stand at attention for the national anthem (for soldiers, there's no hand over the heart - if you're in uniform you salute, if not you stand at attention), and it definitely does not mean that I don't intensely admire the ideals held within the pledge.

And finally, what it assuredly does NOT mean is that I, as someone who objects to the pledge being a universally mandated practice in all schools, have any kind of inherent argument with or dislike for those who have no objection to such a thing. We disagree on a point, and that it where it rests. I think that in these cases the media intentionally plays up such intentionally contrived rifts among our nation's public in order to increase exposure and, by proxy, their ratings and advertising profits. This is the exact same kind of unjustified inflammation that they so proudly rail against when it is used by radio "shock jocks," and IMHO, this practice of making money off the intentional division of our citizens is intellectual treason of the worst kind.

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

Reading these comments, I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that one of my teachers is breaking the law. You see, I don't say the pledge, for a variety of reasons. I haven't since I was in 7th grade, and am now a sophomore in high school. This has not upset many of my teachers, although I have been asked to stand, or not study, or small things like that. However, this year, I have been quietly asked to wait /outside/ the classroom, until the pledge is over. I think this has something to do with my behavior being considered disrespectful, or some such thing. So I must ask- Is my teacher violating the law, or is this legal?

So I must ask- Is my teacher violating the law, or is this legal?

Posted by: Emma | April 24, 2008 10:21 AM

In the vein that you are being singled out from your class for your choosing not to recite the pledge, then yes. You are being discriminated against for not participating in an act that is NOT mandatory for students, and that is against the law.

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

brokenSoldier,
I totally hear you. My intention in class is that students take that "pledge" experience away from the media shock jocks and own it. That is why I impose that you have mean whatever you decide to do. I want them to learn to be reflective in everything they do in my class be it the way they collected data in a lab or the way they recite their values. We always talk about teaching critical thinking but you have to actually practice it because otherwise even those most hardworking, talented teen can ease back into passively feeding on media pabulum.

Whatever the law is, that pledge is announced every AM. I just decided to do something with the time besides mindless obedience. There is no busy work in my class!!!

We need more visits from 10th-graders who can think and write as clearly as Emma.

I am a Canadian, but I lived in the United States for four years and went to junior high and part of high school there. I had many teachers demand that I say the pledge of allegiance, despite the fact that I wasn't even a citizen of the country. I could usually get away with just standing and mouthing the words, but even that I thought was more than I should have been asked to do. To me, it had nothing to do with being disrespectful, but rather about the farce of me faking a pledge to a the flag of a nation I was not part of.

Anyway, those experiences might have tainted my view of the pledge of allegiance, but I find it a fairly ridiculous, nationalistic concept.

By Mozglubov (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

Seriously, why do so many shitheads (creationist science teachers, pledge-pushing principals, etc.) go into [mis]education in the first place?

Because it's so badly paid that only the super-dedicated idealist who loves teaching and the brain-dead moron are interested in the job? Tough job to do well; easy job to do badly.

"We always talk about teaching critical thinking but you have to actually practice it because otherwise even those most hardworking, talented teen can ease back into passively feeding on media pabulum."

Posted by: Heather | April 24, 2008 11:10 AM

I wish you could propagate your own mindset throughout the entire teaching community. School should teach a child how to think (and by that I mean how to think for themselves) rather than what they should think, but sadly this is the exact opposite of many classrooms and schools in this country today.

I salute you, Heather!

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

I once read that the only other nations to have a pledge of allegience, other than us, was Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Is that true? Who's looking this stuff up?

Late to the party, but I'll chime in with everyone saying post 62 is right on. Post 128 also alludes to what I've long considered a painful irony: if "ceremonial deism" were actually as empty of religious implication as the court opinions claim, then it wouldn't have been necessary to invent the concept in the first place. Are "Under God" and "In God We Trust" really religiously insignificant? Then why bend the rules so hard to let them remain?

Of course, the common claim that these phrases prove that the US is a Christian Nation demonstrates even more blatantly that "ceremonial deism" is total crap.

In the state of Washington, as a public school teacher, the law states that the opportunity/forum to say the pledge is required at the start of each school day. This, however, means that no person is required to say the pledge. The reason for your decision to not say the pledge is irrelevant. This includes teachers. Furthermore, you are not even required to stand while the pledge is being said. Standing is a symbolic act of speech, and thus you are not required to stand.

By hooligans (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

However, this year, I have been quietly asked to wait /outside/ the classroom, until the pledge is over.

My understanding is this: you have a Constitutional right to abstain from saying the Pledge in class, that much is certain; you may not be punished or sanctioned in any way for exercising that right; so if being asked/made to leave the room is a punishment or sanction, then it's unlawful.

AFAICT, in many states, the school is obliged by law to lead, or make time for, the Pledge during the school day, and this has sometimes caused people (petty bureaucrats, mostly) to believe that the students have to say it; they don't.

YMMV, IANAL, etc.

Posted by: TomDunlap | April 23, 2008 5:59 PM

Yup, proof that TN is a bastion of Godless communism...

By Yammering Ftard (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

I was gonna recommend Sastra for a Molly. Then I read brokensoldier's post...tough decision.

Oh, and I wonder if Interrobang will marry me? =P

I am very surprised to see this is still an issue anywhere (yes, even in Tennessee), considering how famous the case is that pretty much settled this issue.

Then again, the schools continued to have readings of the Lawd's Prayer and other crap for a long time afterward too.

For the record, growing up as an Air Farce brat, I rarely had to say the pledge, and it was usually when I was attending a public school, not the DoD schools.

PS, I've met Ellory Schemp. :D

India:

Oh. So there is one democracy that has a pledge.

Interesting contrasts, though.

http://bushfish.org/images/sample_2.gif

Oh man. bushfish.org is like bushislord.com, only real.

:-o

The horror! The horror!

Shifting back to topic, does anyone else here think patriotism is overrated? It seems to me nothing more noble than a modern-day manifestation of tribalistic, "us vs them" thinking.

It was invented in the late 18th and early 19th century, more or less out of whole cloth.

have perverted the virtue of patriotism

It never was a virtue in the first place.

uni natione, deo ducente

"to one nation, to the leading god"... why not simply "uni natione sub Deo"?

(And why not "ducenti"?)

"Queen" Elizabeth Windsor

If you already go that far, you might take the next step and say "von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha"...

I once read that the only other nations to have a pledge of allegience, other than us, was Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Is that true? Who's looking this stuff up?

Read the comments before yours for more examples. Also, Yemen has one. It includes the mention of al-Thawra, the Revolution.

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

One Nation, UNDER God...
http://www.mainandcentral.org/home/mainand/public_html/faithiraq.jpg
WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE(THUD)!

Posted by: Jah Hovah | April 24, 2008 12:42 PM

I'd agree with the ridiculous nature of the last three photos, but I don't see the the soldier with a Psalm on his helmet's sweatband as representing in any way a governmental position that violates our nation's establishment clause or even the concept of the separation of church and state.

We were briefed many times before deploying to Iraq on the directive that if we were going to wear religious symbols or other items, we had to do so in a manner to where they were not visible when in uniform, so as to not offend the locals. This was a hard and fast rule, and in my experience was not broken very often at all. And in the rare cases where a soldier was caught wearing a crucifix on a visible necklace, he was quickly corrected and warned about doing such things - and if that soldier continually refused to obey that directive, he would have been disciplined for disobeying a direct and lawful order.

So while I'm with you on 90% of your post, I'd classify that first photo as quite innocuous concerning the implications and violations of policies regulating the relationship between religion and government. Besides, we used whatever we could to provide a measure of comfort in that situation, and I begrudge no one at all for their faith, unless it comes to a point of them attempting to force it on me.

By brokenSoldier (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

Me: "Queen" Elizabeth Windsor

David Marjanović: If you already go that far, you might take the next step and say "von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha"

Me: I reckon anyone's entitled to change their name, but not to claim a hereditary right to a position of authority over me!

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 25 Apr 2008 #permalink

I'd like to clarify some of the specific legal points here. In 1940 in Minersville School District v. Gobitis some Jehovah's Witnesses asked for an exemption from a general requirement to recite the pledge on basically the same religious grounds as in the present case. The supreme court said no. The question of whether the general requirement for student to recite the pledge was itself valid was NOT considered in that case.

In 1943, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the Jehovah's Witnesses argued that the general requirement for students to recite the pledge was unconstitutional, and they won that. So the two cases actually addressed different questions and neither has ever been overturned. The relevant point for the present case is that West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette very clearly said that the state cannot require anyone to recite the pledge, not that people can get exemptions for religious beliefs. So as far as the case law is concerned, an atheist has just as strong a basis for refusing to recite the pledge as a devout Christian. Whether that influences the behavior of school administrators is another question entirely.