Virginia Schoolchildren to be Force to Recite Pledge?

Hold up. Requiring “In God We Trust” to be prominently displayed at all public colleges???

imagines huge-ass letters on the Rotunda at UVA, or the Wren Building at W&M

Oh lord have mercy. What BONEHEAD thought that would be a good idea? Yes, we have a beautiful campus, and some of the oldest colleges around…let’s place wood shop letters on them!! I’m with Montfort…thank Goddess I live in Maryland.

even worse…at all public schools.

The chairman of the Henrico County School Board, Bob Hall, was even quoted in our paper as saying he doesn’t have a problem with this because it’s already printed on our money.

Saint Zero: Oh, definitely. I just saw the issue here as being Republican (I’m sure there are some Democrats and Independants who support this as well), and so I directed my comments that way.

I have to add here that I really found that the two senators using the ‘love it or leave it’ argument to be pathetic, especially when it’s directed towards children.

Excellent letter, Phil.

Let’s see here…who might this bother?

  1. Non-Christians: “God who? I worship a Goddess/a pantheon/nobody!”

  2. Christians, whose first allegiance is presumably to the Kingdom of Heaven, at RTF pointed out.

  3. Members of certain denominations that are not permitted to take oaths. Requiring a note from the clergy constitutes an unnecessary burden on their free practice of religion.

That leaves…political opportunists who pay lip-service to religion, right? :rolleyes:

I never recited the pledge. I was raised agnostic/Neopagan, and by the time anyone tried to get me to recite it (1st grade), I found the wording objectionable. I usually just mouthed the words of some poem instead (most often “Jabberwocky” or “Invictus”–I was a weird kid).

As for the motto…WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?! It’s bad enough that it’s on our money! <grits teeth and restrains a rare urge to head off to the Pit>

Good letter, Phil. If I lived there, I’d be sending one off today myself.

I for one think you might do better at choosing your battles. Yeah, let’s not force the kid to think this country is a good place to live, or stifle his creativity. But it might be more effective to be sure that these kids:

  • had breakfast that morning before they were forced to say that pledge;

  • had warm clothes and shoes to wear while being forced to say that pledge;

  • got a well-rounded education after being forced to say that pledge;

  • had a safe, secure, home with a parent or two in residence to go to that night.

    My point, however sarcastically made, is that sometimes people choose something minor to squabble about, while ignoring the glaring problems that are yet unsolved.

Oh, it gets worse. My best friend is an Arlington public high school teacher, and she tells me that for the past few months they’ve been required to start each day with a moment of silence.

Does the First Amendment not apply to Virginia or something?

The Republican government of Ontario has required all public schools to start the day singing “O Canada”. Why they can’t do the same at cabinet meetings and legislature sitttings, I don’t know.

Cripes. Good thing I moved away.

They don’t apply to South Carolina, either. In the county I live in, the public schools distribute a handbook to students outlining the rules of the school system. In it is a list of “values” that are theoretically supposed to be common to all students and teachers. Among them is “Respect for our Creator.” :rolleyes: Nice try at being inclusive with the “creator” bit, but we atheists recognize this as the official endorsement of religion that this is.

With all due respect, you don’t know that I’m not addressing those other issues as well, in other ways. I would point out, though, that if the Virginia Legislature is wasting its time on stuff like this, it’s quite possible it isn’t addressing them, and they’re the ones empowered by the voters to do so.


I mentioned that in the letter; this selfsame Sen. Barry was the sponsor of the “moment of silence” bill as well. That one, at least, has an easier path for objectors; several protesting students, including atheists and Christians, were allowed to leave class and sit in the office for the duration.

Um, hello? HOW can they do this? Isn’t it a direct violation of the First Ammendment? I’ve read what everyone said, but I don’t see how this can be enforced.
GREAT, letter, Phil.

It is certainly illegal to force children to say the Pledge, but patriotic Christians don’t care about the Constitution or the law. That’s what one of my high school teachers told me, anyway. He said, “I know it’s unconstitutional to force you to say the Pledge, but I’m going to do it anyway because I’m a typical right-wing yahoo.” Or words to that effect.

I think any children who don’t like saying the Pledge should say it in the loudest, most sarcastic voice they can muster.

The law would never stand up in court.

I know this, because I researched it when I got in trouble in my high school (which just so happens to be in Virignia) for reading during the pledge of allegiance. (I thought it was a good way of ignoring what was going on; I don’t agree with the pledge. My teacher did not approve.)

Anyway, the Supreme Court decided in Barnette v. West Virginia Board of Education that schools can’t force students to stand for the pledge.

“Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.”

  • West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barenette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

(Well, I just saw that goboy already mentioned this, but hey, now you guys have a link to the full text.)

Excellent letter, Phil, and I hope the forces of ignorance take heed.

Respect can’t be mandated, only earned. The concept of enforced gestures of respect…well lots of other folks have already said it, and much better than I could have.

Specific to the item quoted above, the smarmy “out” provided for objectors somehow makes the whole concept even worse to my mind. It’s isn’t a respectful compromise to an unconscienceable requirement. It’s a pointed, vicious little intimidation tactic based on group mentality.

It’s takes a lot of courage and conviction to stand up and pointedly walk out while everyone else dutifully mouths the required lines. It’s damned hard for adults but it’s hideous for children. Just as intended, it clearly marks “objectors” as surely as labels pinned on their backs.

As a purely personal rider, I always stand and recite the Pledge of Allegience–and mean it–for the simple reason that, for all its flaws, I love my country very much. I do not say the line, “under god” because I don’t think the line should be included in the first place. This thread is making me rethink, hard and painfully, about whether my personal solution is tactful or cowardly.


pldennison, you’re right on both points. I did not mean to imply you were not addressing these issues.

According to the news on the radio this morning, the bill has been reported out of committee with the language requiring students to say the pledge unless thehave a note having been removed. Under the new, amended bill, every school district will need to say the pledge every morning, but there will be no requirement for individual students to do so.

Well, if you prefer, you could recite this pledge instead:

From Life in Hell by Matt Groening, ca. 1988 (or thereabouts; this is from memory)

Or this one.

I sent the letter, with some corrections, to all the appropriate people. Let’s hope my representatives in the legislature do the right thing when this bill faces the full Senate today or tomorrow.

I’m not alone, though. See this editorial and these letters in the 1/30/01 Washington Post. That last letter is particularly pithy.

While I do see merit in the idea that being forced to say the Pledge runs counter to the first amendment; I am not entirely sure that the argument that Christians can not recite the Pledge if they so choose. I personally do not view my saying of the pledge as a moral obligation, but rather as a respectful affirmation that I believe in the general concepts for which this country stands. As a Christian I found no argument in saying the pledge because as it states in the Book of Romans chapt. 13 verses 5-7 “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” I recite the pledge as a way of showing my respect to this Nation for upholding it’s responsibility to the very pledge which I am reciting.

If, however, as in this instance, the Government acts contrary to what I feel it stands for in it’s most basic roots. Then, I am required to cease my acts of respect; in the form of not saying the pledge. That is why I chose to stop saying the pledge, because a government that makes it’s decisions in total disreguard for the simple words of it’s most common and best known oath does not deserve my veneration.

Also, just as a side note, the “Under God” portion of the Pledge is not a part of the origional text and was in fact added in 1954. The Origional text has no mention of any sort of religion. Perhaps a campaign of some sort should be started to return the Pledge to it’s former state. Just a thought.

I’m all for it. I’m certain that forcing rugrats to pledge will instill a sense of values in 'em and return our nation to it’s former glory and keep the little marmoots from listening to that rock & roll, be-bop stuff.