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StaffEditorialsReciting the Pledge of Allegiance is not Citizenship Education but Indoctrination

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is not Citizenship Education but Indoctrination


Francis Julius Bellamy was an American socialist who penned the original Pledge of Allegiance. In the truest sense of the capitalistic ideology, Bellamy became involved in the late 1800s to help a magazine company sell flags to American public schools, known as the schoolhouse flag movement. The Pledge was published in the September 8, 1892 issue of the magazine called the Youth’s Companion, and immediately put to use in a Columbus Day celebration (to sell more flags).

The Pledge of Allegiance states: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The US Congress inserted the language about God in 1954 during the Cold War “to acknowledge the dependence of our people and our Government upon the moral directions of the Creator” (p.12) and “to deny the atheistic and materialist concepts of communism.”

A simple idea is the the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited by public school students. The pledge has gone under attack since the inclusion of the Under God phrase. The law suits (from 1954 through 2010) focused on the separation of church and state as well as the 14th amendment.

In 2002, an uproar over the 9th circuit of appeals stating the phrase was unconstitutional prompted politicians in Washington DC to put form an amendment supporting the Pledge. Mrs. Clinton is on record supporting this amendment. Mr. Smith from New Hampshire stated “Nobody’s forcing school children to recite the pledge.”

Nonsense. Students in our district are not forced but they are prompted. Some teens will remain seated, one turns their back, a few try to talk during the pledge, and many others keep their ear-buds in their ears so that they remain in their own worlds. As a teacher, I remain distant and simply recite the pledge. I remain silent on the Under God phrase. I object but do not make a big deal. No student probably even knows I refuse to say that phrase.


Whenever I think of the Bellamy Salute, the indoctrination of ideals, then my stomach turns. I am a teacher of concepts – of ideas – including beliefs that we must remain free to make our own choices. The Bellamy Salute is a sweet reminder that there are times in our lives in which we are not free – free to disagree.

We must teach and allow our kids to become adults, and an important part of becoming an adult is learning to accept or reject ideals put forth by others. Personally, blindly stating the Pledge of Allegiance without giving it thought is just as bad as never saying the Pledge in the first place.

On September 4, 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts will consider whether the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of students’ rights. In the brief filed by the appellants: “voluntariness” is constitutionally irrelevant. Instead, the lawyers argue “the daily patriotic exercise violates G.L. C. 76, § 5 because it denies public school students an advantage and privileged of public school on account of religion.”

Appellants Doe Brief Appellants Doe Brief Interveners Joyce Brief Interveners Joyce Brief
Appellees Acton-Boxborough Brief Appellees Acton-Boxborough Brief Appellants Doe Reply Brief Appellants Doe Reply Brief
Amicus Alliance Defending Brief Amicus Alliance Defending Brief Amicus American Center Brief Amicus American Center Brief
Amici Centerfor Inquiry Brief Amici Centerfor Inquiry Brief Amicus Commonwealth Brief Amicus Commonwealth Brief
Amici Americanlegion Brief Amici Americanlegion Brief Amici Pallazo Others Brief Amici Pallazo Others Brief
Layne Heinyhttp://www.layneheiny.com
LPH is a high school physics teacher interested in the Apple iPad and iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Tablet PCs, and other mobile devices. He resides with one large dog who begs for pizza, hamburgers, French fries, and anything else on the dinner table.

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