The Atheist Academic: Don’t You Dare Make me Pledge
Every day, I cringe a little bit when I hear it. The Pledge of Allegiance. My whole class of high school freshmen stand , hand over heart, and recite it. My 6-year old proudly recalls how he says the Pledge in his first grade classroom. And no one really seems to notice that little tiny, inserted phrase, “Under God”.
I’m as patriotic as the next bleeding-heart liberal, I suppose, and I’m proud to be an American and all of that. I don’t have any problem stating that, even if it is during an odd, mumbled chant. But we all know that not everyone is religious. Even if they are, they’re not the same kind of religious. How is it fair to make the little kid who prays to Allah admit that his country is “under God”? What about the Buddhist kid? The Hindu? We’re not a country of happy little Christian white folk anymore, people. My son has been raised atheist. Why does he have to pledge to a god? It’s just not right.
Apparently, once again, someone feels the same way. According to Kevin Conlon, CNN reporter, the ‘Under God’ part of the Pledge of Allegiance is under fire in Massachusetts. An unidentified family has filed a suit against the state of Massachusetts, stating that the Pledge discriminates against students under the Equal Rights Amendment. The article explains that the attorney for the state, ” Eric Rassbach of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty , says that, ‘they’re grasping at straws… they know they would lose again if they tried it under the First Amendment, so now they are trying a new tack.’” Yes. The tack called honesty. Integrity. The tack in which people don’t feel ostracized because they live in a country in which the majority of the population believes in a God. Is it really that big a deal if we take the words “Under God” out of the Pledge? They weren’t even in the Pledge originally – Congress added them in 1954 because we were fighting against Russia, and people felt the need to differentiate between that awful, Godless country and our own. I would have disagreed with the addition back then, but I certainly disagree with it now.
Rassbach also mentions that students are allowed to opt out of the Pledge, so it should be allowed. I don’t see that as relevant. Atheists and non-Christian students already have a huge barrier to cross as minority Americans. Now they have to stand out by being the non-patriotic person in the class? Have these politicians ever been in a middle school classroom? Those kids are mean. They don’t need another reason to pick on someone.
The backlash from Christians, horrified that their perfect little world may be shattered, is kind of funny. Fox News’ Dana Perino stated that, “If these people [atheists] don’t really like it, then they don’t have to live here.” Her cohosts agreed. HOW IS THAT EVEN ALLOWED? What if I said that some ethnic group could leave the country if they got mad at me making fun of them? Do you think that would be okay? STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ATHEISTS, PEOPLE. Holy shit. It’s fucking ridiculous.
Okay. I’ve calmed down. Anyway, as of right now, this issue is just that schools shouldn’t say the Pledge during school. That’s a good start, and I certainly agree with it. However, I think an even better solution would be to go back to the pre-1954 Pledge and leave religion out of it completely. Religion-free… just like our country is supposed to be.