Pledge of Allegiance

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The Pledge of Allegiance is a ritual statement primarily used to indoctrinate youth in the United States. National governments often employ mass ritual behaviors to indoctrinate youth in they values they claim to promote or embody. They also often betray those values when they make actual public policy.

The orginal pledge, which read, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," was written by Christian Scientist Francis Bellamy and published in the September 8, 1892 issue of The Youth's Companion. The pledge has been modified since then several times. In 1954, the U.S. Congress at the promting of the Knights of Columbus added the phrase "under God." (Codified at 36 U.S.C. ยง 172).

The Supreme Court held, in a case decided before the 1954 amendation, that while public school teachers may be required to lead students in the pledge, the Supreme Court has ruled (before the words "under God" were even added to the pledge) that students may not be forced to actually speak the words.

In 2001, the atheist parent of a child attending public school in California, Michael Newdow, sued the United States, claiming he and his daughter were damaged by the United States' official embrace of monotheism, which could imply to his daughter that there was something wrong with her father's religious choice. He won a decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that declared the words "under God" an unconstitutional breach of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The decision was stayed pending Supreme Court review.

In 2004, the Supreme Court avoided deciding the merits of the case, declaring that Newdow, as a parent with limited custody of his daughter, did not have adequate standing to bring the case to court.

Both court decisions have been very controversial, and brought to a head the conflict between those favoring more and those favoring less separation of church and state in the USA.

Pledge of Allegiance in the News

  • According to a March 10, 2005 report by the Associated Press, Millersville, Maryland ninth-grader Patrick Linton protested the broadcasting of the Pledge of Allegiance in Russian on his school's public address system by leaving the classroom. Explained the 15 year old linguistic nationalist, "This is America, and we got soldiers at war. When you're saying the Pledge in a different language which nobody understands, that's not OK." Whether he actually believed that "nobody understands" Russian was unclear from the news report. Nor was it disclosed whether any teaching staff at Old Mill High School were helping the young man overcome his problems with English grammar, as evvidenced by his use of "we got." According to the Associated Press news report the patriotic ritual oath was also read in Spanish, French, Latin and German, perhaps as part of a diabolical effort to compound the xenophobic nightmare.

External Links Extensive Nonpartisan Look at the 'under God' Debate

Wikipedia entry on the Pledge of Allegiance

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