Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance Should Be Just That

The Pledge of Allegiance.  It amazes me how something can be so controversial and how so many people can have varying views and opinions and even definitions of it when most of the time, the ones with such adamant opinions of it don't even know the entire history of the pledge. . 

The Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Frances Bellamy, a baptist minister and a Christian Socialist.  His original Pledge of Allegiance read like this: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".  

The original pledge was written and put into a Christian youth magazine to help instill a sense of patriotism in our nation's children and was actually a promotional stunt to help grow flag sales and sales of the magazine it was put in called The Youth's Companion. 

Later on, in 1923 the words "my Flag" were changed to "the Flag of the United States" and the words "of America" were added at the end one year later in 1924.  It was officially recognized by congress in this form "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" on June 22nd, 1942. 

Years later, The Knights of Columbus were noted to have added "under God" in 1951.  With the help of president Eisenhower and congress the words "under God" were officially added into the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14th, 1954.  Which brings us to the current Pledge of Allegiance which reads: "I pledge allegiance, to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So there's the history of it.  Now let's discuss why so many people are offended when someone refuses to say "under God" or even stand up for the pledge. 

In my personal opinion,if someone doesn't wish to say the pledge at the beginning of the school day or whenever it may be said, it doesn't mean they aren't patriotic, it doesn't mean they're a terrorist, it doesn't mean they hate America.  To me, it means they don't want to show their patriotism in such a way.  It could also mean they don't want to repeat the pledge because of the "under God" portion since they don't believe in God. 

Let me ask you this, is it really so wrong that someone who doesn't believe in God doesn't repeat the Pledge of Allegiance since it interferes with their religious beliefs? 

Wasn't our country founded by a group of people who were tired of religious prosecution so they came to America for religious freedom? 

This post came about because I read a post on facebook about a young man who was in school and reciting the Pledge but his classmate was not.  When he asked his classmate why he wasn't reciting the pledge the classmate responded by saying he did not believe in God.  The young man, a noted Christian, then punched his classmate in the face.  The young man was suspended for three days and thought that it was completely unnecessary for his school to discipline him in such a way.

I'm sorry, but isn't our country all about tolerance of other cultures and religions?  Aren't we called the Melting Pot of the world? 

No one should be physically assaulted simply because they don't believe in the same deity as you.  No one should be afraid to state their religious beliefs for fear of being punched in the face.  Especially, in school. 

This is a touchy topic for me, personally, because I've been a practicing Pagan for the past 17 years.  In high school I was not only criticized but also ridiculed for not wanting to recite the pledge at the beginning of the day because I did not believe in God. 

No child should be put through that.  And if you ask me, the "under God" portion should be removed, especially with today's variety of religions and religious beliefs in our public schools.  It's as though our government is asking all of our children to conform to their beliefs by reciting the pledge as it's written today and that's just not right. 

Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion.  Acceptance of your fellow man regardless of religious or political views.  Those are the things our children should be taught at the beginning of the day. 

 Now don't misunderstand.  I love my country.  I love the freedom I'm given, the freedom our fellow Americans fight for us to have every day. 

What I don't love about my country is how religious and political prosecution still run rampant.  We're in the 21st century folks.  Don't you think these things should be far behind us and that we should learn to at least accept our fellow human beings regardless of what their beliefs are? 

I'm not talking about a Utopian society, I just want to be able to walk down the street or go to the store and not be ridiculed or looked at funny or talked about behind my back all because I don't believe in the same god as those doing the talking and giving the funny looks. 

I want my girls to grow up in a world where being a Pagan doesn't make you "weird" or "a hippie".  I want them to be accepted just like every other human being in our nation should be.

Is that really too much to ask?  I don't think so.  Changes need to be made and soon, before another child gets punched in the face for being different. 

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