Each morning at our school hundreds of kids pledge their allegiance to a scrap of cloth hanging off the wall. I don't join them.

I wouldn't recite the pledge just because of the "under God" thrown in there. This isn't just because I don't believe in any gods; it's because this so clearly violates the Establishment clause of the constitution. Even if I were Christian, I could imagine the government forcing us to say "one nation, under Buddha" every day. I wouldn't want my religion forced on others any more than I would want others forcing their religion on me.

But the religion reason is insignificant. I wouldn't say the pledge even if that part were taken out. The pledge is nothing more than an attempt at brainwashing. It's peer pressured recitation completely lacking in comprehension. Kids are pledging allegiance before they even know the meaning of the words "pledge" or "allegience". Until at least fourth grade I was saying "invisible" rather than "indivisible". Even when I corrected myself, I still hadn't the slightest clue what "indivisible" meant.

Real allegience would never come in or from this mindless ritualistic incantation. We should want, as a nation, our people to pledge allegiance of their own free will. We want people choosing to pledge allegiance because they agree with what the nation is doing, because they have pride in the nation's causes. The oral recitation of the pledge is insincere, and holds no purpose nor importance.

Take the flag burning amendment for example. It comes closer every year to be passed into law that burning a piece of cloth is illegal, if it's an American flag. This is one of our first steps towards prosecution of Orwellian "thoughtcrimes". Banning flag burning won't stop people from being disgusted with our nation, it will only repress their freedom to express it. Stifling opposition to the nation is blatantly fascist. Patriotism can't be forced, only the appearance of patriotism can.

The more mindless nationalism shoved down my throat, the more ashamed I am to live in these United States.


The idea that the pledge of allegiance is "optional" is a pure sham. In high school I had teachers yell at me and try to physically force me to stand up during the pledge.

Also, having the pledge in public school singles out anyone not participating for persecution. A girl at my high school was literally spit on by a classmate, in addition to the insults and name-calling, for not reciting the pledge of allegiance.
I agree that all the Pledge of Allegiance is is mindless repetition, but it has benefits. Right now, how many people actually say the Pledge at your school? Maybe one or two per class. And how many in your class do you think will be involved in one way or another in the government later on? Whether it be running for election, writing a letter to their congressman, or simply voting, I'd say very few. A couple of them will at least vote the first time they can, but most will not again. Very, very few will even do the simple chore of writing their opinion on an issue and mailing it to the editor of the local newspaper. Heck, most probably won't even read the news section of the newspaper.

I feel by at least allowing (you aren't forced to say the pledge) kids to recite a few sentences, maybe it will weave some patriotism into their mind. Maybe they'll actually give a damn about their country and get involved. We don't have to brainwash them to get them to care about our country, just make them care. If we just do nothing and simply hope they'll become inspired- well, they won't.

In a country where the government actually posts advertisements around the schools to try and get people to vote, we need all the patriotism we can get. What's next? The government's going to PAY US to vote? Actually, I can see the Republican and Democratic parties paying people to vote in the future (if they haven't already started). People are just too apathetic nowadays- they don't care that people are being massacred in Kosovo or that the US is about to lose any means of hurting China for their human rights violations. They only care about the latest media frenzy: Monica Lewinsky, Elian Gonzalez, etc. And how much do they care about that? Enough to gossip and buy more magazines and watch more CNN. Heaven forbid they actually sit down and write a letter to someone!

As for flag burning, I'm not opposed to flag burning, but I am against direct opposition to the government. While you can go on all you want about an issue, such as gun control or the electoral college and how the government's wrong about it, saying "the US government is evil and is too corrupt and needs to be replaced!" does no good. We have a unique opportunity in our country, we can change how it operates. We don't even need to be the majority, as long as you are a small group of strongly-opinionated and well financed individuals you can get anything you want through Congress! Anyway, there's much more constructive ways of voicing your opinion and getting results.

Good point about religion in government. Even though our country was founded on Christianity (our fore-fathers being Christians that is), by no means do I think that it should be so intertwined with it. Myself being Christian, I would be offended if another religion was being promoted in a country with separation of church and state. I don't have a problem with the government respecting a religion (with a "Moment of Silence") even if the religion does makes up over 80% of its population, but promoting it is a whole different matter.

Writeup does not mean reply; I'll keep this as independent as I can.

School kids are forced to stand and recite a whole bunch of things during the course of their education, including the Preamble to the Constitution, quotes from Shakespearean plays, multiplication tables, and their own bad poetry. That's part of being a minor. But outside of that inconvenient reality, nobody is forcing you to say the Pledge. Really. If it really bothers you all that much, just don't stand up during it and avoid meeting the glares you'll get from others. I promise the Thought Police won't come and yank you out of your seat and hold your hand over your heart for you, and then threaten to imprison your parents if you complain.

As patriotic acts go, the Pledge is pretty minor compared to the other things you're "forced" to do on behalf of your country. National holidays celebrated annually close down government offices, banks and business for entire days and often lock you out of what would be an otherwise productive day at work. Income taxes are enforced by law to support your hard-working government representatives; ignore those for long enough and you actually will get thrown in court or prison.

But on the bright side, there are nations and governments on this planet where active patriotism actually is enforced. Service in the German or Israeli military is mandatory for all male citizens of a certain age, regardless of circumstances; at least in the U.S.A. you have to declare a draft first. In Communist China no one points a gun to your head if you're asked to make a public statement on your opinions of the government, but you can be sure they'll bring guns around later if they don't like what you say. In England, however the locals may feel about her, the political authority of a Queen whom not one citizen had a chance to elect is uncomfortable at best to most Westerners. Compared to these examples of "forced patriotism," sending kids to the principal for not standing during the Pledge is hardly worth complaining about.

If it's really that intolerable to your moral code, then just grin and bear it. Americans get a pretty good value for their tax dollars, all things considered: police and fire departments, free basic schooling, a capitalist economy to make a living in, the right to write to and vote for your Congressperson, voluntary Armed Forces to protect you and yours from invasion, and the peace of mind that comes from having an FDA safeguarding your breakfast. You can even run for office and improve the system yourself. How great is that?

Even in kindergarten I remember standing up every morning while the teacher took attendance and saying:

"I pledge a legiance to the flag of the united states of a-mer-i-ca and to the re-public for witches' stands, one nation, under God, in-i-visble, with liberty and justice for all."

Let's be honest. Before the 6th grade I hadn't the foggiest notion what I was really saying, except that it was required that I recite the pledge every morning to a flag that stood otherwise unnoticed at the tippy-top of the chalkboard. And even though I swore these things with my hand over my heart, it took me a while to understand that you don't pledge a legiance, you pledged allegiance. And for that matter, we were not an invisible nation--rather an indivisible one. Of course I was most upset when I learned the truth about the witches' stands.

And then a guy in California decided maybe "under God" was a little too churchy for a separation of church and state, so he pressed the matter. And the religious folks pressed back. And then the press pressed (is that where they get their name?) and then the court pressed and now it seems everyone's taking a time-out before coming back to press again. In the meantime, teachers and students and everyone else who makes a habit of saying the pledge are left in something of a quandry.

In case you're wondering, the official stance is this: until such time as the appeal process is over, the pledge is to be recited in full, including the phrase "under God." Per the Constitution no one may be required to recite these words, however many school children across these 50 united states are required to hear the pledge at least once per week.

Thank you, bureaucracy.

So here we are and it is August and we have to say the pledge every day--school rules. And my classroom is right next door to a delightful 7th grade English teacher who just happens to be introducing the concept of "synonyms" to her pupils this semester and also just happens to think that the phrase "under God" symbolizes everything that's wrong with our puritanical, hypocritical money-driven society. Her words, not mine.

She decides that her students are going to write their own pledges of allegiance. They take a few days in class to discuss synonyms and the splendor that is the thesaurus. They talk about liberty and patriotism and they decide what's really important to them and they brainstorm and they divide and conquer. The lesson is a success, free speech is saved! Up on the bulletin board in the hallway they go. I walked by them today. Here are some of my favorites:

"...one nation, under the big guy, that can't be broken even by racism
or terrorism, with fairness and equality for almost everybody."

"I give a shout-out to the red, white and blue flag
of the U.S. of A. and to the democratic republic
that it symbolizes of one country under the sun
that is an unstoppable super power, too."

"... and to the government it represents
one nation, under the religious leader of your
choice, indivisible, with liberty and justice
for all those who are in this country legally."

"I pledge my love and loyalty to people, not to flags
but when I see the U.S. flag I think of my family and
I want to tell them I love them and I'm proud."

And finally...

"I still 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 and not because I have to, either."

It is my opinion that saying a pledge of allegiance to a flag, is ritual idolatry, which is, in effect praying to, or talking to, an image as if it were God, or at least a person of great authority such as a Queen or Emperor. The graven image does not have ears to hear you, nor any power to respond to your voice for your benefit nor harm. In other words, you are talking to a towel like a fool.

It seems to me also that ritual use of any symbol is likewise idolatry, since not even a cross (two beams of wood) or crucifix (two beams of wood with a statue nailed to it) can hear your voice, no more than a golden cow, and one of the 10 commandments specifically forbids graven images. A cross is not even useful for exorcism of evil spirits unless those who are under the influence of them are more under influence of the symbol.

Flags are an old symbol of Heraldry (or a similar code language), designed to assign a national claim to an area, defined by imaginary lines which can be seen only on maps drawn according to that kind of imagination, provably imaginary since these lines are not visible when you stand in the location represented by the map on which they are drawn. No animal is aware of its crossing these lines, nor is any person, unless a nation is so concerned with it them they have built walls, or unless a person crosses the line on a well beaten path, where customs levies, passports, visas, and other similar national business of identifying citizens and aliens is concerned and active.

The distinction between citizen and alien implies to me a sin, justified only by a specific lack of faith in God versus money, or what is practical to an atheist, influenced more toward the (non-sexual) customs of Sodom and Gomorrah than those of Good Samaritans. The sin of Sodom is not known correctly outside the bible, which I interpret as compulsory identification and careless violence against the poor in a land of abundance (specifically Sodom). A Good Samaritan is a stranger who helps you while your own neighbors and fellow citizens walk by, absolutely indifferent to your immediate need. This paragraph is not relevant to a specific person or nation, except any (perhaps all) who read this and know that it is relevant to themselves.

It is strange to me that flags (US of A) have other rituals also; especially that an old flag should be burned with reverence, and that is how they shall be disposed of, yet someone may intend irreverance and provoke others in protest by the same means. If not the cloth but a large paper Rand McNally map were destroyed in plain sight, the action would appear to me to be more of an intentional threat. It is only on this basis that I can understand the offense or offensive intent motivating flag burning.

This opinion is in a logical objective sense, without any intention of offense to faith. Neither is this even a shadow of a specific judgment; if you feel judged, you have judged yourself.

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