Monday, 29 August 2011

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag -- By Rohit J

Every American-raised child can relate to this morning ritual. We all stand up, mumble a few words, and then continue our daily lives. 
This act is harmless enough, or is it?
The pledge of allegiance needs to be removed from the public school setting. No child should be indoctrinated into pledging one’s self to a nation. No child should be forced to admit the existence of a god. But most importantly, no child should have to face scorn form their peers for having a different, but valid, ideology.

Indoctrination is a crime. Indoctrination kills intellectual curiosity. Forcing someone to repeat a phrase and hold it to be true does not allow them to think for themselves. This is what the pledge of allegiance does. It is forcing school children to believe that America is “indivisible” and “one nation under god” and has “liberty and justice for all”. I am not here to attack American values. I personally am a non-believer, but I do believe that the American government does its best to give liberty and justice for all. But my opinion, nor the governments, matters in a public school setting. If a child does not believe in any portion of the pledge of allegiance, he/she should not be forced to say it or indoctrinated into believing it. Nationalist indoctrination is as bad as religious indoctrination. They both kill the intellectual curiosity that drives people to think and be creative. We cannot let a Red Scare chant preside in a setting that is supposed to cultivate thought and creativity.
The topic of God is something I will be covering in many future posts. I am Atheist, but I do not believe that the belief in God is detrimental to society. But forcing a child to say that America is “One nation under God” is wrong. Religious values, or lack there of, are very important to most individuals. No one wants them violated in a uninvited way. Unfortunately, the pledge of allegiance does that. Saying this phrase gives credence to the idea of a supernatural, which some people are not willing to do. The pledge of allegiance was originally put into the school setting to have a distinction between the godless Soviets and the Americans. There is no need to emphasize this distinction since the Soviet Union…well it doesn’t exist anymore. This phrase is hindering the value of religious freedom, a value upon which America was built upon.
Numerous times, along with other classmates, I have sat down during the pledge of allegiance. Needless to say, the condescending looks form my other classmates is unwarranted. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, the land of freedom. It is supposed to foster the belief in different ideologies. Yet when I respectfully disagree with the ideology of the masses, I am scorned upon. People tell me to respect the flag and be American. Heck, I’m not even American. I am not allowed to vote or run for president. I do respect America and I do very much like this country (and I am planing on applying for citizenship). But by not agreeing with the nations ideology does not mean I am disrespecting it. It just means that I am disagreeing. If the United States of America wants all of its citizens and residents to agree with its ideology, it might as well model Nazi Germany. America is a land of ideological diversity, and is great because of that. No one should be forced to believe an ideology, nor be scorned for disagreeing with the ideology held by the masses.
If you are a young non-theist who wants their voice to be heard, consider submitting an article of your own to Generation Atheist. Visit our submissions page for details.


  1. In Canada, we don't have the Pledge of Allegiance - however, we do have a national anthem that is rich with references to religion. In most cases, only the first verse is sung, including in schools. In the English version, there is a reference to god ("God keep our land glorious and free") and the French version references a cross ("Il sait porter la croix!" or "So also is it ready to carry the cross")

    I never really thought about the religious elements for quite some time. They were just words that I had to repeat every morning, not something that I ever truly considered.

    I'm not sure if the option is available to remain seated during the anthem, in objection to its religious elements or for any other reason. To the best of my recollection, I've never witnessed a student sitting down during the anthem. However, I'm not sure if that's because no one raised an objection or if any objection was squashed by school officials.

  2. There was actually a lawsuit a number of years ago that established that children do not have to say the pledge, but I do think they still have to stand up (Although I've noticed that some don't and nobody really seems to care).
    As for 'under god,' that was originally put into the pledge to distinguish America and separate us from the U.S.S.R.; I believe that the pledge has actually been in schools before that. Personally, I'd have no problem if 'under god' was officially eliminated and the pledge were restored to its' original form.
    I've taken to saying 'lies' or simply omitting 'Under god' from the pledge whenever I say it.
    Anyways, outside events have a way of ruining, changing, or simply warping things beyond belief. I agree that, either way, it needs to change, so the important question is how to go about it.

  3. The early indoctrination is to assure control and that people will grow up believing that they are not supposed to think out of the box. I am reminded of the story about the shepherd who, in order to protect his flock, placed them inside a barn. The older sheep, gazed out of the window and wished that they were still free to roam the fields but the younger generation considered that barn life was the norm so never thought about anything else