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This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Religion in Schools - Part 2 - The Pledge of Allegiance

The first time I crossed this subject I talked about Prayer in Schools, and now, it's time to go over the
Pledge. For most of us who grew up saying the Pledge every day, it's not something that's questioned when it comes to our kids saying it. We simply do the "We did it and we turned out fine" line and we never think about it again. But, as with many things, there's an issue with that. Because if we never consider what is wrong with the way things are, things never change, and the world continues on the same path it was.

Now, I don't have an issue with the Pledge itself - per-say... But there are two major problems with having young children recite it on a daily basis...

The first of which is the Pledge itself. In it's original form there was no mention of God or Religion. For those that don't know the history, here's a brief one.

Prior to 1924 the Pledge was very different from what we tend to think of today. One simple sentence it read "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." In 1924 the word MY was changed so it read THE Flag. This version was used until 1954.  It wasn't until the McCarthy era, and the fear of communism that Congress passed a bill which added the words "under God."

You may wonder why this all matters? Well, basically it's a question of Should the Pledge include any mention of God in a country where Religion and Government are meant to be separate?  In my opinion, and the opinion of a great many others, NO. I would love to see the Pledge revert back to it's Pre-1954 version with no mention of God. And at present there are quite a few movements to do just that! Now it's up to Congress to listen to it's people... - So we may never see it happen!

But that's only half the reason I would like to see the Pledge removed from schools. The other half is much more basic. While I see good reason for students to learn these words, as a matter of both their culture and their history. I find the idea of children reciting a pledge of any kind as counterproductive!

To understand my thinking here first I think we need to explore what a Pledge is. Dictionary.com defines the word as such:  "a solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something." In every day terms a Pledge is a contract or oath, isn't that what "solemn promise" means after all?

According to both this countries laws and basic common sense, children can not enter in to a contract. Why is this? Because a child does not have the basic understanding to enter in to any agreement. They don't understand what it means to Pledge or to take an oath... They can't understand how such things can alter their lives long term, nor can they grasp the concept or weight of an oath or contract of any kind.

So it then stands to reason that asking a child to repeat to Pledge their Allegiance to anything is simply ludicrous.  They don't understand what they are doing, and they can't legally make such an oath.

I guess you could feel that's a stretch IF you feel the Pledge is simply a bunch of words with no meaning... But to me, they are more than that, to me, they have a great meaning, as they should to any US Citizen. And in my opinion, having millions of people - children no less - who have no idea how serious their words are repeat such a pledge day after day after day not only teaches them that it has no meaning but completely invalidates it when it is said by those who know and respect it's meaning.

Please don't get me wrong, children should learn the Pledge. But they should be learning the history and meaning behind it, not just the words. They need to understand WHY it's important and WHY it's something that should be respected. Simply teaching them to say words (which have no meaning to them) day in and day out doesn't do that. If anything it just teaches them it's no different than a nursery rhyme or kiddie song.

It's not that I'm "Anti-American." I am a happy American. I think this is a great (although highly imperfect) country. And comparing it to others, I don't believe there is a better place to be.  But I'm not one to simply stand back and blindly follow the status quo simply because it's "American" to do something. If anything, standing up for what you believe and working to create change to protect both the citizens of this country and those things which are most "sacred" to the country as a whole is more "American" than anything else I can think of!

**This blog post was originally published to my One Witch's Wonerland Blog (now closed) on 1/9/12**

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