In 2004, Michael Newdow went to the Supreme Court to argue the validity of the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge was being recited daily in his daughter’s classroom, which was in a public school, was considered unconstitutional by Mr Newdow. It was argued that having to listen to the pledge, even if there was no participation, violated the constitution. On March 24th, 2004, Newdow went and argued for his claim.
At least 40 states require children in public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Although it is voluntary, and an
individual student cannot be forced to recite it, it is still a requirement. However, this isn’t the problem. The real issue is the
phrase “Under God”. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 7% of U.S. adults are atheist or agnostic, a number that has gone up 3% since 2007: and the number of atheists have “roughly doubled.” Of the Hindus and Buddhists who make up 1.4% of the U.S. population together, 0.7% each are also excluded by this phrase. This makes at least 8.4%, if not more people, excluded by our Pledge. That is still millions of people being left out.
The Pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. It was originally written for a magazine in order to promote selling flags
to schools for the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus coming to the New World. Later on a “to” was added before “the
republic”. In 1942, The Pledge became the nation’s Flag Code. However, in 1954, the phrase “Under God” was added after “One Nation” to separate America from “Godless communism” during the Cold War.
Now, there’s lots of discussion and controversy if “Under God” should be in the Pledge. In the 21st century and especially in the past decade, there has been lots of religious diversity in the U.S. and and there are people who don’t believe in God, or have other beliefs such as multiple gods or a detached God. With all the diversity, many religions can be left out by this. Hindus, Buddhists, Unitarians, Agnostics and Atheists are all being excluded. With such a big group of people who are aren’t included
–and could possibly be opposed to this issue–, there should be more consideration about removing the phrase.
Another thing to consider is not just adults, but children. Most American children in public schools state the Pledge every day. David Noise of the AHA (American Humanist Association) says, “By telling students that the nation is ‘under God,’ schools teach kids to see a belief in God as a requirement for good citizenship,” This is something our children should not have to worry about. If someone, child or adult, wants to be patriotic and support our country, they should be able to recite the pledge without having it be a lie to their beliefs.
If the pledge is supposed to be a patriotic exercise and not a religious one, then why must it contain the words “under God”?
The answer is, it shouldn’t. Of course, the Pledge is voluntary and no one can be forced to recite it. However, people who are not included in the pledge should be included, and able to display nationalism, when everyone could be included and have the chance to Pledge to the flag without having to worry what goes against their beliefs.
In classrooms, a child does not have to recite the Pledge if they do not wish. They cannot be forced. However, it’s not very
fair for a child to be unable to show patriotism just because there’s something against their beliefs.
On June 14th, 2004, it was decided. The Supreme Court would not be taking Newdow’s case. Newdow’s complaint was dismissed. He did not have the legal custody of his daughter due to him and his wife being divorced. The court decided he did not have standing and dismissed the complaint. Maybe in the future, someone like Newdow will come up again, and succeed in the fight for the equality we need in our Pledge.
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