Daily pledge would mix church and state

The Southerner

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Should Grady students be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school? 

BY JAMIE REED

I remember at my elementary school every classroom had an American flag in the corner, and every morning at 8:15 one lucky student would be chosen to recite the words of the Pledge of Allegiance over the loud speaker as the entirety of Gulliver Academy recited the words in their classrooms in unison. I also remember the day when in fifth grade, the teachers told us we no longer had to say the pledge. That was the year the school decided that the statement “One nation under God” was offensive to some students. To me, there are really two issues with mandatory reciting of the pledge. The first stems from what is said. There is a clear violation of separation of church and state, as well as a restriction to students’ freedom of expression in the “one nation under God.” The second issue is far more psychological, and stems from a school requiring us to memorize what is basically propaganda for our country.

The freedom of expression is a right that is constantly challenged and changed as we reconsider when we as citizens are allowed to express our views. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that students could not be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This decision poses a major issue for supporters of a reinstitution of this policy. Another legal obstacle to the pledge emerged more recently with the challenge to the “one nation under God” statement. The establishment clause in the First Amendment protects us from the enforcement of religion, meaning the pledge itself is a violation of our freedom of religion. This check on government is designed to ensure that the protections guaranteed by our Constitution are upheld unless changed through another amendment.

The second issue I have with the pledge goes beyond just reciting, but even to the most basic level of being asked to listen to it. The Pledge of Allegiance in all senses of the word is propaganda, and even after some restrictions to what schools can do, they are still allowed to play it over the intercom day in and day out. This to me is far worse because, even though some may argue that the lines are innocuous, it is a form of patriotic brainwashing for support of the American flag. I have no issue with being patriotic, but this is no different than forcing students to read portions of the Bible, or for lack of a better example, telling children to read Mein Kampf in Hitler’s Germany. Using impressionable youth to push the views of American Exceptionalism is unacceptable and thus should not be permitted in any school setting for the sake of allowing students to develop their own views about our country.

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