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Austin Cline

Comment of the Week: How Important is the Pledge of Allegiance?

By January 8, 2013

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A lot of Christians defend the Pledge of Allegiance as an important statement of religious patriotism. But if it really is all that important, why do they only promote it in the context of government functions and institutions? Why not insist on mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance everywhere?

One Nation Under God Pledge of Allegiance
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster:
University of Georgia

It seems likely that if the Pledge of Allegiance were promoted and spread far more widely then more people would start recognizing the problems with it and might even start objecting to it. That might lead to real backlash.

Donald writes:

Imagine how put off you would be if, at the start of every workday, all employees at your worksite were expected to stand, face the flag and recite the Lord's Prayer - or passages from the Bhagavad-Gita or the Holy Quran. Unless you were a devotee of the favored religion, you'd probably find the exercise rude at best or, much worse, a violation of your rights.

I suggest it's time for the twenty percent of the "nones" in this country and all other citizens, including Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims who do not believe that the Republic is "under God" (or, if they do believe that, do not believe that the inclusion of this religious phrase in a once secular pledge of loyalty is appropriate or constitutional), to show overt opposition to the Pledge of Allegiance wherever and whenever it is recited.

I recommend a simple, respectful but clear physical technique for displaying opposition to this McCarthy-era imposition of Christianity into secular national affairs: stand, like everyone else but with folded arms, silently while slowly moving your head slightly from side to side in an unmistakable expression of "NO!"

In doing so, you and other co-conspirators for safeguarding separation of church and state will effectively be acting as patriots for your country, striking a blow for liberty while protecting your rights under the First Amendment. Patriotism need not be defined or associated with God-belief. To do so, as occurs with the recitation of the revised Pledge, marginalizes freethinkers. We have a right to communicate dissent from this imposition on our own, non-Christian convictions.

[original post]

Then again, Americans have proven over and over again that they can be led to adopt practices that cause them to become meek, submissive actors in dramas created for religious, political, and ideological ends. What if the spread of the Pledge of Allegiance were actually accepted?

January 8, 2013 at 9:15 am
(1) deegee says:

After I became an atheist at age 13, I stopped including “under god” when the pledge was recited at the start of the day in high school. If everyone else wanted to say it, that was fine with me. I simply paused at those 2 words. Nothing bad happened to me, and nobody knew I was doing that. Now if we had half the class doing what I did, there would be a noticeable drop in the volume of those 2 words….and that would have been pretty awesome (and shocking to the homeroom teacher, who I have no idea if he were an atheist)!

January 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm
(2) Russell La Claire says:

The Author, Francis Bellamy, did not have the words “under god” in his pledge. Since those words were inserted by Congress, they, in my opinion, have no value and thus I do not include them.

January 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm
(3) Srthoma says:

I stopped reciting the pledge at school by the time I was in the 7th grade. There’s something about reciting the same words day after day that really bothers me. It becomes too ritual and the words are eventually meaningless to me. But to answer your question, I don’t think the pledge is important whatsoever.

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