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Feb. 26, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance causes debate of its own

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Every school day, 184 times a year, the Pledge of Allegiance comes on over the public address system at Blair. Most Blazers stand, reluctantly or not, while a good number of others don't stand at all - in part due to contempt for the government and in part due to just plain laziness.

Prior to 1988, standing for the Pledge at Blair was not common, but then, state officials in Annapolis discovered a rule that required students to stand for the Pledge. It wasn't until the fall of 2002, however, that a student challenged that ruling. Then-junior Elliott Wolf, now a freshman at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in his words, "berated" by his fourth period teacher for not standing for the Pledge, an incident that prompted him to attempt to get the rule removed. "My beef was that my annoying teacher was ordering me to do something that I knew he has absolutely no right to order me to do," Wolf stated in an e-mail.

Wolf wrote a long letter to Blair Principal Phillip Gainous, explaining that "if there is truly to be 'liberty and justice for all' in this country, then students must be at liberty to express their views freely without reprisal or guilt."

Gainous said at the time that the rule was in place out of respect and did not force students to say anything, just to stand up. "We are just asking students to be respectful to others who are saying the pledge, not requiring anyone to say [the Pledge]," he said in 2002 to Silver Chips reporter Marisa Schweber-Koren.
Photography teacher Franklin Stallings stands for the Pledge of Allegiance while his students talk in the background. Diana Frey
Photography teacher Franklin Stallings stands for the Pledge of Allegiance while his students talk in the background.

As a result of Wolf's challenge, Gainous agreed to change the rule regarding the Pledge, so that it no longer forced anyone to stand. In a 2002 e-mail to teachers, he wrote, "the latest position of MCPS' legal department is that we no longer have the right to insist that students stand for the pledge. We can encourage it, and if they refuse we can question it in a way that is not embarrassing. If they continue to refuse, no further action is to be taken."

Gainous' initial stand is reflected by some teachers still, including photography teacher Franklin Stallings, who believes students should stand. "It's all about respect for the country," says the Vietnam veteran. "People should at least stand, even if they don't say anything. If I was in another nation, I would stand for their national anthem." Stallings says that many students don't stand, and he surmises that it's a result of contempt for the government and of pure laziness. "Some kids don't like Bush, for some, they don't stand because this isn't their home country, but most are just lazy," he says.

Junior Raheisha McDaniel agrees. "Kids are just lazy about the pledge. They don't care," she says.

In an informal survey of 100 students, taken on Dec. 20, 2004, 74 percent of students said that they stood for the Pledge daily, but only about one third of those stated that they actually recited the words every morning. While some politically-minded students said they don't stand out of contempt for the Bush administration, others just said they were lazy, just as McDaniel thought.

"I don't care [about standing] because I'm lazy," comments sophomore Eli Simon-Mishel.

Junior Prince Okra says he doesn't stand "because I don't feel like it."

McDaniel says that during the Pledge, "Most kids are just talking, or whatever, and they don't pay attention to the Pledge."

Wolf surmises that laziness is one of the reasons Blazers don't stand, but that "their contempt for the current government," the Bush administration, is another factor as well.

One of those Blazers is junior Peter Lopez, who asks, "Why should I stand? It's just standing for [President George W.] Bush, and I don't like him."

Junior Eric Cemphor says he would stand if another Democrat was President. "I stood when Bill Clinton was President, and I will when they get another Democrat in office," he says.

Some don't stand because as Stallings says, students don't see America as their true home. "This isn't my home country; that's El Salvador," says junior Yendil Furcal.

Of those who replied in the poll that they do not stand for the Pledge, all responded that they do stand for the National Anthem at sporting events. The general consensus among those Blazers was that at pro sports games, everyone stands, while at Blair, it's common for nearly all students to stay seated during the Pledge for one reason or another. "Sometimes it seems lame to stand for the pledge at Blair because nobody does it, but at sporting events, I would look weird if I didn't stand," remarks senior Luke Hanlein.

There are those at Blair who also feel strongly about standing every day for the Pledge, however. "This is a great country, and we need to support it," says senior Phuson Halaam.

Other Blazers stand as a way to show support and respect for those currently serving in the U.S. Military.

"I've stood every day since I was in school, and my uncle is in Iraq, and I support him," said Algenis Liriano, a junior.

"I stand because my uncle's in the Marines," explains junior Johnny Cruz.

Some students at Blair are particularly religious, and to them, the "under God" part holds a special meaning.

Junior Gerry Powery says that he stands "because the teacher makes me." However, he also chooses to stand for religious reasons. "The only part that I care about is 'under God.' When that comes up, I've got to represent God, because I'm Catholic, and I really believe in him," Powery says.

Junior Krista Byrd tells those at her table during 5B lunch that she stands for God and out of respect for the U.S. "I stand because I respect the allegiance, and I have to show respect. I want to let everyone know that I believe in God and believe that he runs this nation. I was raised to stand," she explains.

While Powery and Byrd stand because of the controversial line "under God," an addition to the Pledge made in the 1960s and deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in San Francisco in 2003, there are those who wish the line was gone from secular public school. "I never say 'under God.' I say 'under dog,'" comments junior Jackson Vassighi. At a mall in suburban Portland, Oregon, a store was selling bumper stickers with the line "Dog is my Co-Pilot," a twist to a familiar religious bumper sticker.

"We've moved a lot of these stickers lately," commented the manager of the kiosk at the Washington Square mall in Tigard, Oregon, who did not give his name.

Junior Sam Rosenthal says not standing for the Pledge is simply disrespectful. "Even if you don't like the government, it's still important to respect all your freedoms that you get in the United States," he says.

Wolf said in 2002 that someone who does not stand is not unpatriotic and that his problem with the Pledge was more the act of being forced to recite something, a violation of the First Amendment in his opinion. "It wasn't my whole intention to make people not stand," Wolf says now, adding, "I do think that the whole idea of everyone standing and saluting an inanimate object every morning is a bit Orwellian."

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  • principled pragmatist on February 26, 2005 at 12:22 AM
    "Junior Eric Cemphor says he would stand if another Democrat was President. 'I stood when Bill Clinton was President, and I will when they get another Democrat in office,' he says."

    I nearly wretched when I read that. So politics is now a greater force than patriotism? Mere political alliances are more important than national ones? I guess thatís how it is: love of country and the strength of the Republican Party are inversely related. This is petty and abhorrent even by liberal standards.

    Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.
  • Anonymously Liberal on February 26, 2005 at 1:18 PM
    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the PRINCIPLES (not the Republic, no way, no how) for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible (except by abortion, gay marriage, and other political issues), with liberty and justice for all whom the government doesn't consider an enemy combatant.
  • varun on February 26, 2005 at 1:29 PM
    "Junior Gerry Powery says that he stands 'because the teacher makes me.'"
    whoa...that's surprising...
  • sam silsbee on February 26, 2005 at 3:35 PM
    i agree with arm.."principled pragmatist", eric cemphor's comment is a sad sad reflection of the times.

    C'mon guys, stand for the pledge. if not out of respect for the country ur recieving a free education in, if not out of respect for those dying in a war, do it out of respect for me! i AM the blair pledge, and seeing all these people disrespect america and me makes me very very sad.
  • ... on February 26, 2005 at 3:51 PM
    Don't play politics with the Pledge of Allegiance. And no, I'm not a Republican.

    And about 'under God,' I agree with the statement ONLY because this country was founded under Judeo-Christian principles. No one can argue facts. Whether they are right or not is another matter.
  • junior--to on February 26, 2005 at 4:43 PM
    to "..."

    i disagree with your statement about the country's judeo-christian principles. if we were really founded on jewish or christian principles:

    1) we would follow just-war theory (and/or not wage war) ("blessed are the peacemakers"..."turn the other cheek"..."You have learned that they were told, ĎEye for eye, tooth for tooth.' But what I tell you is this: Do not set yourself against the man who wrongs you.")

    2) there would be no usury/interest (exodus 22, leviticus 25, deuteronomy 23, nehemiah 5, psalm 15, proverbs 28, isaiah 24, jeremiah 15, ezekiel 18, ezekiel 22, matthew 24, luke 19, as some examples)

    3) abortion would be illegal ("Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.")

    4) our social services would be as strong or stronger than europe's ("I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.")

    5) our foreign policy would not strive the way it does to make enemies with the rest of the world. we would not seek to dominate the way we do.

    6) we would not act out of prejudice toward those who are different from us ("give no offense, neither to the jews, nor to the gentiles" -1 corinthians)

    as a christian, i am deeply, deeply troubled by the presence of "under God" in the pledge. it is affront to everything christians stand for, because it associates our nation's actions with God and tries to use Him some sort of perverse justification for our sins. i think that people of other faiths probably feel this way, too. keep "under God" out of there!

    i stand for the pledge out of respect, but i will not say a prayer to the state.
  • Stealth Dozer (View Email) on February 27, 2005 at 6:06 AM
    We are not a Judeo-Christian principles, & that is a fact.

    Why say the Pledge at all? It smacks of facism:
    http://www.oped tm

    "I plead alignment to the United Flakes of A merry cow, and to the Republicans for which they scam, one nacho, underpants, with licorice and jugs of wine for owls."
  • Bob on February 27, 2005 at 10:39 AM
    I agree with principled pragmatist, and I am a liberal and don't stand. Don't sit because you hate the president, this isn't about politics.

    To ..., under God doesn't have anything to do with the founding of this country. Under God means he currently is over us or has some power over us. This is completely false. To sam silsbee, standing isn't showing respect to you, the country, or people dying. It's showing respect to the pledge itself.

    Now my stance:
    Standing for the pledge is a matter of respect, but I don't just respect anything with an American flag accosiated with it. You have to earn my respect. I respect teachers because they are making their life helping young people. I respect my parents because they are raising me and helping me. I respect this country because it has given me a place to be free and live happily. That said, the pledge is nothing but brainwashing. It is repeated in kintergarten where they have no idea what most of the words even mean. Why are they forced to recite it? It is recited every day shoving patriotism down our throats. It is telling us how great it is. The country I owe my allegiance to doesn't need to repeatedly tell everyone how good it is. It doesn't have to demand respect because it gets it willingly. I stand for the anthem because I am showing respect for my country. The pledge is showing respect for a piece of cloth that represents brainwashing and a false nation which needs to tell everyone how great it is and demand respect. You don't get my respect by demanding it, you have to earn it. Lastly, there is the under God part. Under God means nothing less than we being under God. If you take it to mean literally in space, that's not true since I don't believe there is a god. If you take this to mean he has power over us (my interpretation), that is totally false also. The pledge is a tool of brainwashing us into mindlessly loving a piece of cloth which represents religion and forced respect.

    Apart from that my first semester teacher wouldn't let me sit until I got a letter from my administrator telling him that he wasn't allowed to force people to stand.
  • Anonymous on February 27, 2005 at 10:42 AM
    There needs to be some sort of announcement to students about their rights. First my teacher wouldn't let me sit until I got a letter from my administrator.

    Then on review day the pledge was during my NSL class instead of my regular class and my NSL teacher asked which case gave us the right to sit during the pledge? (Tinker v. Des Moines) Many students said they didn't know they had that right and their teacher forced them to stand. It wouldn't be hard to one day right before the pledge make it clear that students are allowed to sit during the pledge but that the school would like for you to stand.
  • Anonymous on February 27, 2005 at 11:53 AM
    Ditto to Anonymously Liberal
  • Freethinker (View Email) on February 27, 2005 at 3:03 PM
    Government schools are forcing political speech on our young impressionable children whether religious or seculer versions are used.

    Totalitarian-run governments use childhood brainwashing methods (indoctrination) to control the population using patriotism and religious peity. In reality, those so-called "lazy" students may be subconsciously showing discontentment with their inactions rather than laziness.
  • John (View Email) on February 27, 2005 at 3:47 PM
    I'm a vietnam combat veteran (5th Infantry Div 69-70) ... I do not stand nor respect the Pledge of Allegiance. It is a Fascist/religious ritual. Unfortunately, here in Florida there is a law requiring all schools to perform this Faschist/Christian ritual daily that my daughter is coerced/required to do.

    The other evening at a County science fair program, the event began with the "Pledge/under God" prayer ... my daughter and I got up and walked out of the area during this fascist ritual.

    The pledge ritual acknowledges the same Christian God that Nazis acknowledged while slaughtering 6,000,000 Jewish children, women and men. In fact the belt buckles they wore stated "GOTT MIT UNS" (GOD WITH US). ... Nazis were "one nation under God." requiring students to pledge that this country is "one nation under God" suggests the same bigotted Nazism that slaughtered so many innocent people.

  • Voice of Reason on February 27, 2005 at 4:40 PM
    Of course, John. People who are religious or christian must be real bad cause Nazi's were bad. Oh, also, anybody who is German must be bad cause the Nazi's were bad, how dare they be German?

    So, Nazi's wear belt buckles that praise God? If this means that praising God shows Nazism, then why not call people who wear belt buckles Nazis? Or, uh oh, Nazis were human so now we better keep away from other humans now, cause Nazis were humans so humans must all be biggotted murders.

    John, your argument has no logical basis. It is a blatant attempt to associate two unrelated things(Nazis and the pledge of allegiance). The Pledge of Allegiance wasn't created to brainwash children, it was created to sell flags. Yes, that's right it was created for a flag-selling company to make people feel more patriotic and respect the flag more so they'd go out and buy it. Saying the pledge of allegiance is no worse than repeating a commercial you hear on TV. Now, requiring it to be said, is like requiring students to say it, is pretty stupid as why should a student say something (or even stand up for something) that was designed to sell flags? You wanna be patriotic? You want to support the armed forces? Donate money, volunteer, or anything else that will actually help. Do you think that soldiers are going to start surviving better because somebody says a pledge of allegiance?

  • sam silsbee on February 27, 2005 at 5:10 PM
    yes, the pledge is turning us all into little nazis...
  • louisthepatriot on February 27, 2005 at 5:49 PM
    If you want to live in this great country, then you should respect it. No one who fought in the Revolutionary War, signed the Declaration of Independence, or helped write the Constitution worked his/her face off for a bunch of ungrateful people who won't even show respect for his/her great accomplishment by standing up for one minute in the morning. The president is no excuse to show contempt for your country. You are pledging allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands, not to the president. When Bill Clinton was president, the Republicans still stood up for the pledge. And if you don't think the US is your homeland, then why did you come here? Because you knew that you would get a better life here. Our great government is the reason everyone's not running around without anything to do. This has nothing to do with "Facist/religious ritual" or "forced respect". It's a matter of thanking the country in which you live. The least you can do to repay everything America has done for you (health insurance, education, income redistribution) is by using your leg muscles to stand up at the right time everyday. It takes no more effort than walking from class to class. Don't abuse your rights.
  • louisthepatriot on February 27, 2005 at 6:01 PM
    Voice of Reason, people say the pledge of allegiance to show that the people who work for this country are working for a cause. Who cares what the pledge was made for? As long as we realize how fortunate we are to be part of this republic, it works.
  • Trevor (View Email) on February 27, 2005 at 6:48 PM
    Reading the above article and all the various responses, I just have to ask: Why not get rid of the pledge altogether? What practical and/or educational purpose does it even serve?

    Make them better citizens?--No, we live in a democracy and as such require citizens with good critical thinking skills, not the ability to recite some hollow, nationalistic "prayer," for lack of a better word.

    Instill good values?--I wasn't aware this was the job of the public schools. Where might the parents be then?

    Fill them with pride for their country?--How, if they take such issue with the current government? I don't see the pledge adressing the Iraq war.

    Tradition?--Perhaps the single least substantial reason given for anything. A "tradition" is simply a practice that has been kept alive for a considerable length of time.

    Please understand I am not "ungratefull" for the rights I enjoy as an American citizen, I'm just being pragmatic. The pledge generates unending controversy when not being ignored by the students everyone seems so concerned about so why continue to use it?
  • blazerette on February 27, 2005 at 7:37 PM
    What I don't understand is why patriotism is considered a positive force. To me, patriotism = thinking your country and your people (i.e., those who live within artifically drawn boundaries) are better than those who live outside. We are one people. We should love (and help/support) all humans, regardless of which country they live in.

    one love y'all
  • blazerette (again) on February 27, 2005 at 8:02 PM
    oh, and I think what John is suggesting is that it is dangerous (to put it mildly) to proclaim that "God" is on your side. Assuming your country has divine right can lead to potentially disasterous arrogance/domination (read: Third Reich).
  • Bob on February 27, 2005 at 8:33 PM
    louisthepatriot, what kind of government has to proclaim its greatness and brainwash little kids with the fact that they should be thankful. Forced patriotism is not patriotism. Forced respect or forced thanking is not really respect or not really a thankful person.
  • To blazerette (again) on February 27, 2005 at 10:14 PM
    I totally agree. Hitler did it and all major dictators did it. If you can't give a better reason than God, you need to reconsider your stance.
  • Michael (View Email) on February 28, 2005 at 1:21 AM
    I would rather "repay" my country, by doing more concrete things, than the pledge of allegiance. The pledge is symbolism over substance. That's the difference between a blind patriot and a constructive patriot.
    I didn't stand for the pledge when Clinton was president, and I will not stand for the pledge, while Bush is president.
    The Founding Fathers did not give us the pledge. They gave us the Bill of Rights, instead. They were against loyalty oaths to the state. Just how can one "pledge allegiance" TO A FLAG! My allegiance is to liberty! The pledge was the idea of socialist Francis Bellamy, not the Founders.
  • Voice of Reason on February 28, 2005 at 1:55 AM
    Hey, blazarette, once you start taking history classes, you will learn about this place that once existed called the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union never said god was on their side. Stalin murdered many many people. Nope, never claimed God was on his side, in fact he prosecuted anybody who wasn't an athiest. The soviet's believed that religion was a plague. So are you saying soviet dictators weren't "major dictators"?

    Saying your nation is under God is not saying you have a divine right to kill people(allthough that might be what you mean when you say it, I'm not sure), it means that you believe that your nation is a good place, one that follows the will of God. Now, if you were a Polytheist or Pagan, I could understand why you'd have problems here. But it has nothing to with Facism. And why do Athiests care? Do they believe they will be smited by a non-existant god for saying the words?

    And also, blazarette, just because your view of patriotism seems to be an egotistical version of patriotism (what could be considered nationalism), patriotism means to respect the country and the ideas that it stands for and the rights it gives you, not that you are better than other people in different countries. Although, maybe this is what you are thinking when you are being patriotic, and I respect your enthusiasm if that is true, being patriotic does not demand an extreme nationalistic view. To you, patriotism might = thinking you are supperior to other countries, but to those of us who are less egotistical, it means respect for the country that has given so much.

    And I see good arguments on both sides for the pledge of allegiance, I'm just trying to remove one of the bad ones that threaten Godwinism.
  • Anonymous on February 28, 2005 at 7:59 AM
    Good article, but a couple of errors:
    1. "under God" was added in the mid-1950s (1954, IIRC, not the 1960s
    2. In 2003, the California law requiring schools to lead the "under God" pledge was deemed unconstitutional by the U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit, NOT the U.S. Supreme Court (we wish!)
  • 07 on February 28, 2005 at 8:19 AM
    all these people who say they dont stand because of Bush know that what they are saying is a lie and that Bush is just an excuse. If you're too lazy, that's one thing. But don't hide laziness under a guise of actually caring about politics. And even if you did hate Bush, that is not a reasonable justification for refusing to acknowledge everything the country does for you and the rights you are provided with.
  • curmudgeon on February 28, 2005 at 12:56 PM
    The fight against patriotism, the pledge, and everything uniquely American is just another front in the liberal war against personal identity. In this age of liberal cultural relativism, anything even distantly resembling the ascension of one peoples or belief over another is considered dangerous and undesirable. Yet in their zeal to establish a homogenized and politically correct world, the extreme left has forgotten the importance in reinforcing what we value and what we believe.
  • louisthepatriot on February 28, 2005 at 1:36 PM
    Bob, the government is not forcing or brainwashing anyone to stand for the pledge. Students are now allowed to sit. My comment was just to explain the reason for showing respect for the United States. I hope you don't see it as a way to "brainwash little kids".
  • Anonymous on February 28, 2005 at 4:06 PM
    Elliot's whole letter and stuff was started because our 4th period teacher at the time, Mr. Pham was angered because Elliot chose not to stand for the pledge, but instead sit down and put his feet up on the desk. If as a nation we stand for other countries' national anthems at international events for the Olympics, is it really that hard to stand up for 30 seconds every morning?

    Frankly, if you don't like and don't respect, you don't belong here and you should simply leave. Nobody's stopping you, the door is right there. If you do have respect for some figment of the country, then stand in respect for that. The whole "under God" issue, if you don't like it then don't say it. Stand up and cover your ears if you like, just learn how to show respect for the country that you live in and the country that has afforded you so much.
  • ... on February 28, 2005 at 4:36 PM
    I'd rather be suspended than made to pledge to america...
    not an american, not a fan of america either, don't like the government, hate the words "under god", I don't wanna be "under god".
    and I don't want to 'pledge allegiance' to america...
    too lazy to stand for pledge? It's just standing up for like 30 seconds... I really doubt people don't stand cos they're lazy, maybe other people really don't stand for that reason, but I don't.
  • To Voice of Reason on February 28, 2005 at 5:01 PM
    "And why do Athiests care? Do they believe they will be smited by a non-existant god for saying the words?" - Voice of Reason

    There are things more important than being smited. Like free thought. We are constantly stating that we are in the power of God. Why don't we include that we are under flying monkeys? We are not under God as a country, you personally may feel you are under God, but this country is not under God so this is not factually correct. There was a reason there is separation of church and state in the US government. There was a quote I saw that went something like "under God gives atheists the same status that liberty gives to tyrants, justice gives to criminals, and indivisible gives to separatists."
  • Bob on February 28, 2005 at 5:09 PM
    To louisthepatriot:

    I'm really ok with the government having schools say the pledge every day (well, I'd like to see the "Under God" clause gone, but...) as long as we aren't forced to stand. The problem is that many people want to force kids to stand. I also think that playing the pledge for Kintergardeners has no point but to brainwash. How many little kids know what indivisible means? What about nation? Republic? Allegiance? They turn it into a routine at that age and it's something they just do. If I'm not mistaken they aren't even told they are allowed to remain silent. The teacher usually even asks a kid to lead the class. How akward would it be for a kid in 1st grade to tell their teacher no to something like that? If they were to introduce it at middle school, maybe elementary school, explaining to kids that they do not have to stand, that would be fine. Instead they have to have little kids repeating words they don't know what they mean. That's nothing more than brainwashing. And at the high school level, teachers still don't respect the rights of the students. As I said, I had to get a letter from my administrator before my teacher would let me sit. If I hadn't read the article about Eliott Wolf challenging the pledge I would have just assumed that I had to stand. It's bad enough that we brainwash little kids and don't tell them their rights, but at the high school level the teachers go directly against the policy is just plain stupid.
  • God-fearing man on February 28, 2005 at 8:15 PM
    "We are not under God as a country, you personally may feel you are under God, but this country is not under God so this is not factually correct."

    How do you know?

  • Bob on March 1, 2005 at 5:53 PM
    To God-fearing man. We as a country are ruled by a congress, president, courts, local governments, etc. It's all layed out very nicely in the Constitution. I don't see anywhere in that document where it mentions God having a place in government.
  • Elliott Wolf (View Email) on March 2, 2005 at 12:48 PM
    At this point, I really don't want to be drawn back into this whole thing. But, I'll leave you with the f

    Brief about the legal precedent relating to standing:
  • Hey dumbass on March 2, 2005 at 1:47 PM
    It isn't "one nation ruled by God" now is it?
  • Historian (View Email) on March 2, 2005 at 3:21 PM
    The Pledge was written by a Socialist to prom
  • Elliott Wolf on March 2, 2005 at 5:46 PM
    letter to gainous:

    (add this to the end of my other comment please)

  • idiots on March 2, 2005 at 10:03 PM
    some of the atheist kids are really weird for gettign mad about having the phrase go din the pledge. if u dont believe in god that just shut up about the part under god and deal with it its not sometihing to start crying over now is it??
    o yea and y do a lot fo atheist kids i know say Oh My God when something happens. I dont get y u dont like saying go din the pledge when u always say omg when talkign to ur freinds.... very weird
  • Adam (View Email) on March 3, 2005 at 1:11 PM
    The pledge of allegiance should be said one time, like marriage vows. Saying it every day strips it of any meaning.
  • Bob on March 3, 2005 at 7:34 PM
    To idiots:

    Oh my God is an expression that you say in everyday talk. This is a pledge sponsored by the government. This is the government telling us that we are under God. This is totally false.

    "if u dont believe in god that just shut up about the part under god and deal with it its not sometihing to start crying over now is it??"

    Not only do you need to get some typing skills, but this is a horrible attitude. Who cares about our Constitution? It's not something to start crying over? What, you don't like being enslaved, deal with it its not something to start crying over. This is a total violation of separation of church and state and needs to be addressed. Or I have a better idea. Most Christians and other people who believe in God seem to be the one who play the "it doesn't matter" card, so:

    Let's change it to "where we know God is just a myth"

    One nation, indivisible, where we know God is just a myth, with liberty and justice for all.

    It's not something to go crying over.
  • Sarc (View Email) on March 3, 2005 at 9:30 PM
    To all the BELIEVERS: GOD is just Santa Claus for grownups. This country no longer respects the right of freedom FROM religion and god/jesus has been pushed upon me my whole life. I am tired of being TOLD from every direction about this almighty "pretend friend" that happens to watch over me. I'm disgusted by the religious people who have this "self worth" mental problem where they think they know what god FEELS and what he does. I was raised to always question authority. How do I know god is a he? What makes me so special that an all powerful diety would want to watch over me? Questioning everything in the world around you should lead you towards a higher education. OR You can have all the answers spelled out for you magically from a holy book. OR Just be lazy and not care at all. In order this gives you Doctors, salesmen, and alcholics. Cure me, don't sell me garbage, and most of all don't run me over while drinking and talking on your cell phone. Otherwise leave your religion in your home and in your church where it belongs. Schools are where people go to learn, where they become doctors and cure people without using magical prayer powers. Which leads me to my last and final gripe. Why is it when something tragic happens and a reletive is interviewed on the news they always say,'Thank God! My juniour is alive!'. Why not thank the ambulance driver? How about the paramedic? possibly the doctor who stopped the internal bleeding from the accident? No Mr. Newsman just film the women saying "thank god". Its like that person winning a Oscar saying,'I first would like to thank the almighty'. HEY! What about your mother who you still owe 9 months rent and who sent your sorry butt through acting school. But I digress... A belief system is something that is personal, not public. You may come to the conclusion that everyone needs to hear about it. Believe me they do not.
  • SP -- re:Sarc on March 4, 2005 at 3:08 AM
    Hi Sarc, Let me begin by saying that I am a person of faith. I wanted to just take a moment to respond to your comments as best as I know how. Your attitude of questioning is natural and perfect and the way that I and many, many people of faith believe we are to be--wise as serpents, harmless as doves. Always, questioning, always asking, always searching. Blind faith is dangerous--it drives people to do horrible things without any consideration for their fellow man. While you are 100% correct about that, I think that you may be overlooking the fact that faith, like anything, is a spectrum of sorts. Nearly anywhere you go and anything you do lends itself to description via a spectrum of conscientiousness and ignorance. Some people, for example, believe their political ideas blindly, while others choose to support them with facts, reason, discourse. Should meeting one self-righteous, obnoxious (liberal, conservative) lead me to believe that all, or even most, (liberals, conservatives) are like that? By all means, no! You seem to suggest that all people of faith believe that everything is answered in the Bible or the Torah or any such sacred text. However, I think that you are playing off of harmful stereotypes that characterize those who place faith in a deity or deities as ignorant know-nothings who lack the capacity for, or the interest in, higher-learning. On the contrary, I would point you to some of the world's most influential and renowned thinkers, scientists, mathematicians, humanitarians--many of whom were devoutly religious. Pascal, Mendel, Locke, Wesley, Maimonedes, Ibn Sina...all of these people were openly religious and achieved such profound success or discoveries that it is impossible to deny their role in the history of the human race. Perhaps people of faith have mistreated you at some point in your life. For that, I am deeply sorry. But do understand that the conflict runs both ways. Both people of faith and people who do not associate themselves with a religion feel victimized and hurt--surely a sign that we should set aside our differences and try to come together. Removing "under God" from the pledge is perhaps one step that would contribute to that effort, but in order for there to be lasting understanding, we must reach a fundamental tolerance. I believe Jesuit theologian David Hollenbach expresses this ideal most aptly--he calls for a tolerance not founded in mere acceptance of others' beliefs but in true "intellectual solidarity." That is, all people of faith, atheists, deists, agnostics, etc., in a certain community must come together and engage in dialogue. It is only through this dialogue that we may grow as individuals, so long as we open ourselves to the truth should we find it among those who are different from us. I do wish you would try to be a little more tolerant of those who do believe in a god or gods and who have not mistreated you. While you are completely within your rights to express yourself the way you have, saying things like, "GOD is just Santa Claus for grownups" and accusing people of faith of having mental problems is offensive and hurtful--it merely widens the growing rift between those who believe in a deity and those who do not. Especially at this crucial turning point in our country and world, we must work to fight the polarization of those of faith and those who do not believe in a god. Both groups are guilty of pushing the other away, but pushing each other even further only perpetuates harmful, untrue stereotypes on both sides and fosters unreasonable hatred. I deeply admire your questioning, inquisitive nature--it is this very spirit that moves so many to search for truth in this chaotic and confusing world. -SP "If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly." --John Locke
  • Abdullah Jamaal (View Email) on March 5, 2005 at 12:08 AM
    As much as I'd hate to write about religion under an article that has very little to do with religion, I must say something about Sarc's comment.

    Saying God is just Santa Claus for adults was a great way to start off your comment. In fact, I'm very close to agreeing with you. Let's forget that Santa Claus is 100% imagination. What does Santa Claus mean to a child around Christmas? Reward for success in life maybe? Is there anything wrong with that? I will not tell you God does exist, because I, of course, have not seen him. But doesn't that glimmer of hope that there is someone watching over you make you feel good? Don't you feel like life is only worth it if all that hard work during it eventually pays off? Now now, calm down Sarc; those were just rhetorical questions. I know your answer is no.

    Sarc, I am appalled by your comment about "hav[ing] all the answers spelled out for you magically from a holy book". I'm not really sure what answers you are thinking of. Maybe evolution? I believe in evolution, so I'll have to move on. Are you talking about life after death or reasons for daily occurrences? Honestly, do you really know where everything began and where everything will end? What will happen to me and you after we die? And don't you ever feel like certain things will happen to you no matter what you do? (I loved "Final Destination" by the way) I express skepticism, as I'm sure you do Sarc, whenever I see those people on television "talking to the dead" or talking about how God hates poor people. But what you should have said was that it is important to keep an open mind. One must not be caught up in a web of lies (sorry, I'm going to have to go that far) that a select few say religion supports. But on the other end, it's important that you keep an open mind to people that don't think like you. Plenty of religious people are intelligent. Someone that can take on, understand, and practice a religion while at the same time maintain a sense of reality is, in my mind, intelligent.

    And about your last point Sarc Ė wow, I'm surprised I even have to argue with this point Ė it's called being caught in the moment. At times, saying "thank God" may just be a common expression, but at others when the unbelievable and unthinkable (notice that I didn't say 'a miracle') happens, you just get this feeling that God, Allah, fate, luck, whatever you want to call it, is on your side. I am certain those same people thanking their deity are also thanking the humans that helped make the impossible possible, but when you're caught up in an incredible moment, it's only natural for someone to thank their lucky stars first. And before you say something Sarc, people don't say "lucky stars" because it sounds strange.

    Now back to the PledgeÖ

    Personally, I believe the phrase "under God" does not belong in the Pledge of Allegiance. The author of the original Pledge, a minister himself, did not even include the phrase in the Pledge. In a country known worldwide for its self-proclaimed "liberty and justice for all" and for its diversity, you cannot mix faith and government. Government is about maintaining order and frankly those two words in no way maintain order. On that same note, that liberty which the Pledge itself discusses gives us the right to do something as simple as sit during the pledge. As long as the person in question isn't trying to hinder someone else's attempt to participate in the recitation of the Pledge, there should be no problem.

    Lastly, about standing for the Pledge being a sign of respect, I couldn't disagree more. You don't need to stand up and join in some chant every single day in order to have respect for your country. I respect my teachers, but I don't sing about them. Just because someone a century ago decided to write a generic poem about this multi-colored piece of cloth, that doesn't mean we have to actually say it. To do something just because everyone else is doing it is just insane. I respect America's fundamental freedoms that are unfortunately being chipped at today, but to be forced by anyone to recite or stand for the Pledge is idiotic. Standing for The Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event every once in awhile will suffice for me.
  • Inferno on March 5, 2005 at 6:29 AM
    I stand for the pledge because I am proud of the fact that I live in a country where so many people believe deeply in "liberty and justice"; I am proud to have the right to express myself freely by not standing for it.

    A bit of a catch 22, but I would rather recite the pledge because I have the choice not to.
  • // on March 6, 2005 at 12:15 AM
    To John, the "Vietnam Vet"

    I can't beleive that you are an adult (as you say you are) saying some idiotic stuff like that. Just because the Nazis hid under the Christian religon doesn't mean that the faith is bad. Lots religon has followers that are not true.

  • Bob on March 6, 2005 at 11:33 AM
    To Abdullah Jamaal:

    I agree with you most of your post. Santa Claus has the same amount of evidence as God does. People see all the evil in the world, and want to know there is some justice. So they believe that the bad people burn forever.

    I am certainly not saying that everyone thinks "all the answers [are] spelled out for you magically from a holy book" but there are some who do. Many people believe that the sun stopped since it's in the bible even though it isn't physically possible. The only evidence they have is their holy book but they continue to claim it happened.

    I agree with you with the "thank god" part. You'll notice that when people say "god dam* it" they don't literally mean it as god, just a common expression.

    To the pledge point, I totally agree. Under god doesn't belong in the pledge.

    On respect. That's just an excuse for them to try to force people to stand. The whole Gainous thing with "it's not respect for the flag, but for your classmates" was complete bullsh**. Why don't they respect my beliefs and sit down with me.

    And I still say that the administration should make some kind of public announcement whether on infoflow or Ms. Fus's announcements at the end or anywhere else saying that teachers can't force you to stand for the pledge. They request we do but we are allowed to sit. Many teachers force kids to stand and students don't even know they don't have to. Anyone else agree? disagree?
  • Irony on March 7, 2005 at 4:13 PM
    I find it slightly bizarre when people state something like: "I stand for the pledge out of respect for country", when the very pledge that they recite disrespects the country! The pledge is divisive and conformatory, both traits that contradict the ideas of our founders.
  • Aerial McLean on March 10, 2005 at 3:26 PM
    I don't stand because I did it once and that is enough. I already said that I pledged the day before why do I need to do it everyday.
  • Yarixa Montoya (View Email) on October 27, 2005 at 9:05 PM
    My opinion is that all of the students should be ashamed of theirselves because if they dont say the pledge they must be ashamed of our country.Yea you guys are lazy to say it but your not lazy to sing a song or something like that.
  • Hannah Williamson (View Email) on April 12, 2006 at 7:11 PM
    I am not here today to persuade you to discipline or make a person stand for the pledge because that clearly conflicts with their 1st and 14th constitutional rights, which provide for rights of speech and due process.
    I am merely asking the question if you are not going to stand for the pledge then why not go to another country. China for example where the rights are limited. And where they donít have to say the pledge of allegiance. They donít have to say one nation under God because their nation isnít. Instead of having the right to worship freely they are forced into worshiping gods like Buda and if they refuse, death is usually the penalty. You might think that I am crazy for even asking that question, why would you leave this country just because you donít want to say the pledge. Well the way I see is you donít want to stand and say the pledge for whatever reason, but you still take pleasure in the rights that come from that pledge. You still take pleasure in the thing that the flag stands for. FREEDOM
    I looked at several websites and most all said that the American flag stands for hard work, purity, preservation and justice. I guess in refusing to stand for that flag you are saying you donít believe in any of that such as hard work and justice?
    What is your reason for not standing? Is it your religion because even if you donít believe in god you can still stand for it because believe it or not Jay Stephenson, the same guy that said ďkids should be beaten for not standing during the pledgeĒ is an Atheist. He doesnít even think that god exists but he still thinks his country deserves his respect. Or does not standing have nothing to do with your religion. Maybe you are just too lazy to stand up in the morning.
    Or maybe you think you are a Hard-A and that by not standing during the pledge makes you look cool. Well news flash IT DOESNíT frankly I think it makes you look like and idiot.
    Why do we say the pledge in the first place? Is it because their principle canít think of anything else to start the morning off with? Is it because they want to make us all Zombies and worship our country as opposed to WHATEVER IT IS THE YOU BELIEVE IN. Or is there a deeper reason?
    Thank God for the people that believed there was a deeper reason. Every time you decide to stay seated and ignore the flag. Every time you sit there and make fun of the words that hold our country together. Every time you make immature facial expressions while others are standing during the pledge you are spitting in MY face.
    I have to say goodbye to my dad for at least another year so he can go over seas and do WHAT?
    Fight for the freedom of people that refuse to stand and honor him and the men and women the put their lives on the line everyday, freedom they donít understand and DONíT deserve. My dad has missed the past 6 of my birthdays with things involving the army guard he has missed at least 18 months of my life because he was overseas fighting. And is leaving shortly for Iraq and he says he doesnít even no if he will be back to see me graduate.
    So when I see people that refuse to stand for him and for people that have died to make this country a better place it makes me wonder why they even do it.

    You may not say the pledge you may not believe in anything it stands for but the least you could do is get off you lazy butt! Stand up! And show a little respect to the men and women that put their lives on the line and died to give us the freedom and rights listed in the pledge. No I canít make you, and legally unless the constitution is changed no one can make you stand during the pledge. When the constitution was being written I donít think that any of them thought that standing for the pledge would even be a question. They had wanted their own freedom for so long and finally received that. So seriously what is your reason for not at least standing? You donít have to say a word just stand and show that you have some kind of manners. Show the men and women that have died and continue to die a little bit of gratitude.
    Will it take another 9-11 attack to make you stand? Or will you get a clue now. We are not promised our freedom forever. Maybe if we all just give up, maybe if we all stop saying the pledge just because are nation isnít perfect, then maybe our soldiers will give up to. Then maybe we can have others take over our country. Then maybe you will get you wish. Maybe you wonít have to stand and say the pledge anymore. Maybe you wonít have that option.
  • Ken on May 14, 2006 at 11:30 PM
    To Hannah Williamson

    Before I begin to critisize you, I just wanted you to know that I could care less on what you have written. But since my debate topic happens to be about the pledge in my government class(which is worth some major points), I think expressing my view point on what ive researched should be a good practice in getting a better grade.

  • nolan (View Email) on June 29, 2006 at 3:38 PM
    Visit to learn both sides of the issue. They have a nice collection of info for free.
  • Idris on May 10, 2007 at 3:07 PM
    We prefer to do our work that we forget the pledge.
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