Excellent article on the Pledge.

The Memphis Flyer is reprinting an article by Ed Weathers originally published back in March titled One Classroom, Under God which does a great job of illustrating the problem with those two little words that were added to the Pledge in 1954.

Its 1954, and IҒm eight years old. Every school-day morning in Miss Brawleys third-grade classroom, my classmates and I gather around the American flag that hangs in the corner, put our hands over our hearts, and recite something called ғThe Pledge of Allegiance.

None of us knows exactly what a ԓpledge is or what ԓallegiance means, but we do it every morning, solemnly, because weԒre just kids and Miss Brawley, behind her rimless glasses, is a grown-up. In the world of third grade, kids do what grown-ups tell them. Only bad kids dont.

Sometimes sullen Wayne Hudson refuses to say the pledge. Instead, he sits at his desk, staring straight ahead, arms crossed. Wayne, we all think, is a bad kid, and we stay away from him at recess.

One morning during this year, 1954, Miss Brawley tells us to add a couple of new words to our ritual. The words are ғunder God.

IԒm eight years old. Im a good kid. I add ғunder God the way IԒm told. It even makes sense, because I know all about God from Sunday school: hes a big white-bearded old man, white like me, in white robes up in the white clouds. Of course our nation is ғunder him.

IԒm eight years old. What I dont know then is that this is how it happens: This is how a government takes a religious idea and drips it into the brains of its kids. It starts with the president (Eisenhower, say), and it seeps down through Congress and the state legislatures and the local school boards (enemies, all, of godlessness), and finally it filters through poor Miss Brawley into the brains of the children.

And the child who resists—well, he is, ipso facto, a bad child. A child like Wayne.

It’s a good read and you should go check out the rest of it.

11 thoughts on “Excellent article on the Pledge.

  1. Wow, that makes too much friggin’ sense. At first I wasn’t against the whole under God thing… I just decided not to say it myself. Too many are too sensitive and have nothing better to do I thought.

    I am an Atheist, but a live and let live one. Now… I am completely behind people like Ed Weathers… that just made too much sense. Mrs. Brawley you Fucker!

  2. Of course. When you’re in the third grade and the whole class participates in something, there’s no such thing as “optional”. You can be branded a pariah for far less. As the article states, opting out is the death nell for the child’s social well being. Being different is not an option to a third grader. They WILL be ostracized, they WILL be singled out.

    Their lack of understanding (and caring) about the issue, coupled with a strong desire not to be different from anyone else, means they’ll recite any damn thing the State asks them to. If the teacher does it, they’ll do it.

    I cringe ever time I hear someone say it’s “not mandatory”, the child can “opt out” or “not say those words”.

    “Not say those words”? Pardon me, but every citizen derserves a Pledge they don’t have to personally edit. If you don’t want to pledge allegience, then skip it altogether. But if I do, then my patriotism shouldn’t be cheapened by mixing it all up religion. It’s two completely seperate topics.

    A child can “opt out”? Really? Have these people ever BEEN to the third grade? You can be ostracized for not bringing your lunch in a peer-approved container…opting out of the Pledge is not an option.

  3. I am in complete support of removing those words from the pledge, even the pledge itself from the classroom.
    My kids don’t say it. I am raising them my way. They know our religious standpoint ( we are atheist) and they know that those words were placed there by a president, not the forefathers who wrote it. They know that it is wrong to have church and state together. Neither of my sons utter those words. My oldest has actually gotten into trouble for not saying those words with a teacher but a simple conversation with the principal, mention separation of church and state, remind him how the school cannot force any child to believe in god and my son is right back in class without hand over heart.
    Some kids may become pariahs because they don’t know all the facts. Mine are educated on the facts. They know it is unconstitutional.

  4. My oldest has actually gotten into trouble for not saying those words with a teacher but a simple conversation with the principal, mention separation of church and state, remind him how the school cannot force any child to believe in god and my son is right back in class without hand over heart.

    Point is, he/you shouldn’t have to do that.

    Some kids may become pariahs because they don

  5. From grades 1-6 I was enrolled in a cooperative school on the North side of Chicago. The founding members were parents who did not like the public school system. The main teachers had all received their degrees from Berkeley during the 1960s. After a fashion, then, I was raised by hippies. They did not hold with the concept of forcing children to mouth rhetoric, nor did they impose any beliefs upon us that we could not reason out. One of the founding parents was a very intelligent, soft-spoken man of Eastern-European Jewish descent, quite old in that hoary year of 1977. He had a small row of little bluish numbers, stretched with time, than ran along the inside of one of his wrists. I asked him one time why he insisted on keeping his kids at home to be schooled, and the pledge and empty-rhetoric issue was a point that he brought up. I also asked him one time if he believed in God. He looked a little spooked, absent-mindedly rubbed the wrist with his unmarked hand, looked at me and said that he didn’t think so. God is a tool of good government. I sympathize with Kat. No, of course their children should not have to do this. And their children will be marked for not doing so. But sometimes it may come down to a choice between dying over empty rhetoric, as that man’s family did in the camps, or mouthing some bullshit. I judge nobody and sympathize with you all, and I fear for the future and admire anybody who can try to raise intelligent children in this society. Did that make any sense? It is pretty late, and I have been coding all night …

  6. If more parents who do not agree with it and don’t want their kids saying it, teach them to stand up and not say it, we could change it. If my kids don’t say it, maybe some other kids will have the courage not to say it. One kid at a time we could end up changing it. I gave my kids the choice and they chose to not say it. yes, they have things said to them like “you’re going to hell” by teachers and students but my kids just reply with I can’t go somewhere that I don’t believe in. They are not afraid to stand up for themselves.

  7. It’s good that they’re not afraid. But I don’t think issues of contitutiality should have to be fought by third graders. The adults, and the SCOTUS, have the responsibility to take care of this.

  8. There is another issue..in third grade, children should be focusing on basics of socialization…respecting and listening to your elders, knowing that we live in a great country..and the like.

    Kids at this age are really not ready to take on the deeper issues or the gray areas by themselves—and to put that pressure on them is unfair AND risks undermining the other lessons.

    As a non-religious example: for some reason peanut allergies are a huge problem where my 2nd grader goes to school. So only fresh fruits and vegtables are allowed at snacktime. At the same time, the school is busy enough that the 2nd graders don’t get to leave for lunch until 1pm—so their snacktime is the only chance they have to curb their hunger.

    This results in a bunch of 7 year olds who have to go 5 hours without eating anything but an apple. My child parrotted our view of this absurd situation to the teacher—and we had to tell her that it was not her place to correct the teacher, and made her apologize. (Yes, I know..it made me cringe, too.) And then had conversations with both the teacher and the principal to get a better situation.

    The point being..children that young shouldn’t be standing up to authority and arguing against the system…they aren’t old enough and at best just come off as troublemakers. Which leaves it up to us, as adults, to make sure that they aren’t put in positions where they have to do so in order to preserve their rights.

  9. There is another issue..in third grade, children should be focusing on basics of socialization

  10. All of you have seriously good points on this. Thank you all for being here, I do enjoy stopping by … more power to you, Kat.

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