To pledge, or no to pledge

by Thomas Zambiasi, Opinion

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Every morning at approximately 9:00 a.m., every Spring Lake High School student stands with their hands over their hearts and the Pledge of Allegiance tumbling out of their tired mouths. But is this necessary?

The State of Michigan’s Revised School code states that, starting in the 2013-2014 school year, districts, “shall ensure that an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States is offered each school day to all public school pupils in each public school it operates.”

While Michigan and most other states do not require students to recite the, the “opportunity” to say the pledge is often mandatory. Considering the constitutional arguments against this practice and the dated reasons for doing so, the reciting of the pledge in schools every morning should not be mandatory.

Possibly the simplest Constitutional argument against the saying of the pledge in schools every morning is the First Amendment, providing for the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and press.

While the state law regarding the pledge does away with the freedom of speech question, its words bring up an issue with freedom of religion. Under the Eisenhower administration, the words “under God” were added to the pledge in 1954. While this Christian connotation may not be an issue in private parochial schools, it has no place in a public institution run by the state.

Our Founding Fathers believed that the United States should not be bound to an official faith and that its citizens should be free to worship (or not) how they please; to keep the phrase “under God” in the pledge would be in blatant disregard of their wishes to separate church and state.

The purpose of this addition is also outdated. The Cold War was raging in the mid 1950s, and Eisenhower’s goal in adding the phrase was to distinguish America from the godless Soviets, to bring everyone closer together with a sense of patriotism.

The Cold War has long since ended, leaving us with more of a constitutional dilemma than heightened patriotism. Even with the turmoil in the world today, reciting a pledge with phrasing connected to any institution not endorsed by the government for the maintenance of freedom will not do much to help. Instead, removing encroachments on constitutional rights would be the best policy for keeping citizens patriotic to their country.

In Spring Lake, while saying the pledge is optional, students are still required to stand when the pledge is being recited.  

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