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I Pledge Allegiance…Until I Am No Longer Forced To

I have not said the Pledge of Allegiance since last forced to in 1976. I do not remember ever swelling with American pride during the Pledge. I do not remember even thinking about what the Pledge of Allegiance meant, until I was old enough to not want to recite it.
I Pledge Allegiance... Until I Am No Longer Forced To
By Kirsten Anderberg

I have not said the Pledge of Allegiance since approximately 1976, when I was 16 years old. I remember putting one hand over my heart, and reciting the words in elementary school, oblivious to what I was saying, along with the other kids, like robots. The pledge was rote recitation that students were collectively forced to repeat every morning together, and nothing more. We did not discuss the Pledge together, on our own time, on the playground, as young kids. I do not remember ever swelling with American pride during the Pledge. I do not remember even thinking about what the Pledge of Allegiance meant, until I was old enough to not want to recite it.

By junior high, I was not excited about the Pledge of Allegiance for many reasons, and I do not remember being forced to recite it in public junior high. I remember my reasons for not wanting to recite it were the problems with blind allegiance to a flag or country, as the Pledge states. I felt since my country had just come out of the Civil Rights, Feminist, and anti-Vietnam War movements, not to mention Nixon's resignation and pardon, that scrutiny of government and public policy was warranted and blind allegiance was not appropriate. I felt a DUTY as a participating citizen in this representative republic (that we fondly call a democracy), to investigate what my government was doing in my name, and to stand up in protest when I thought the government was acting inappropriately.

In public high school in the late 1970's, in Los Angeles, they were not forcing us to say the Pledge any longer. Or maybe they did it in homeroom on the days I cut school, or something. But in the Catholic high school I attended, they still held to archaic ritual such as the Pledge, and my last years of high school hold my last memories of saying the Pledge, or feigning the Pledge. I remember my pledging degraded as I got older and smarter. It started with me not putting my hand over my heart in rebellion. Then I would not put my hand over my heart, and would not say the words, yet stood as others recited it. My son says by the time he hit high school, he began to "just lay back and drum on his desk, while people did the Pledge." I remember trying to sit the pledge out once I was not putting my hand over my heart, or reciting it anymore, but that was grounds for punishment in my school, so the last time I feigned doing the Pledge was back in high school, almost 30 years ago, under threat of punishment for not doing so!

This issue came back to haunt me as I had a young son that they wanted to indoctrinate with this Pledge of Allegiance. In 1990, when he was in the 1st Grade, I was fighting for the Pledge to not be mandatory in the Seattle Public Schools. They said my son could stand out from the others and not recite it, but my son preferred just doing what the other kids did to some protest he did not understand, so we went with what he was most comfortable with. Since him NOT doing it, made him stand out, and also had some shaming aspects to it, as if he was not a good or honest person, and was therefore the "enemy" if he did not do the group recitation, it was not a mandatory Pledge, but it functioned that way constructively. A high court in America in 2000 indeed ruled that voluntary student-led prayers at public school football games were "coercive" in just the manner I am describing.

I have had a huge issue with my son being taught, in public schools, to recite something that proclaims America is "one nation under God." I agree wholeheartedly with the founders of this country, in their firm belief in the separation of church and state as progress. I believe slipping backwards towards a monotheistic, religion-based government, which looks more and more like the direction George W. Bush wants America to head in, is terribly frightening and dangerous. The original Pledge of Allegiance, written in 1892, did not have the God phrase in it. The "one nation under God" language was inserted in 1954, during the McCarthy era, under pressure from the Red Scare mentality (similar to the "terrorist" scare mentality now) and due to persistence from religious lobbyists. But we are OUT of the McCarthy era. Or are we back in it? Polls show a hell of a lot of Americans want to rewrite America's founding fathers' intentional separation of church and state, to instead reflect America as a Judeo-Christian nation, UNDER GOD. Which ironically, is the type of thing we label as backwards thinking by fundamentalist Islamic nations. For all the lip service America pays to this separation of church and state, there are forces (even within the government itself) constantly trying to align a Christian God with America, and that is very cult-like behavior for a government to be engaging in. The American Constitution is often referred to as a "godless constitution," and the founding fathers PURPOSELY left out religious wording in government documents, but they could not safeguard against later moronic generations trying to disassemble their work, as we see happening over and over again.

In 1955, shortly after "one nation under God" was inserted into the Pledge, "In God We Trust" was printed on all our government's money, for the first time. Around this same time, legislators introduced Constitutional amendments to command Americans to obey "the authority and law of Jesus Christ." We find the government and courts in America still swearing in officers on bibles for some reason. Also worthy of note is the fact that the Supreme Court begins each session with "God save the United States and this Honorable Court." So if the Supreme Court rules in Michael Newdow's favor in the current legal challenge to the God wording in the Pledge of Allegiance (www.supremecourtus.gov), they would be acknowledging the beginning comments in their own court are also unconstitutional, or so it would seem ( http://www.religioustolerance.org/nat_pled4.htm).

The argument often made is ALL religions have freedom in America, not that all religion needs to be taken out of government. But monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam, by their very virtue, create an "us versus them" mentality that cannot be reconciled, due to their monotheistic nature. So since these monotheistic religions will not function in a mode that accepts ALL religious beliefs as equally valid, they want ONLY their religion to be counted as "the truth," thus they cannot be part of a diverse equality of religions and politics. The Newdow case clearly reflects this sentiment, when reviewing who supports Newdow and who does not. The Pew Forum ( http://pewforum.org/religion-schools/pledge/) lists the following groups supporting the "one nation under God" wording: American Jewish Congress, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Christian Legal Society, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council and Alliance Defense Fund, Knights of Columbus... and we find these groups fighting to remove that God wording: American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Buddhist Temples, et al, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Seattle Atheists, etc. Instead of religious tolerance from monotheistic religions towards each other, which is apparently required for peace on earth, we get religions fighting to run nations in exclusivity, and wars murdering innocents get underway, and we better say the Pledge to remember who is right and who is wrong... maybe if we recite it, like saying you are a witch three times to become one, we will become what we force our children to pledge in school, blind followers of the American flag, willing to walk with muted questions into battle for our country, UNDER GOD.

The children in the vaudeville performing clan I am associated with, learn the Vaudeville Pledge of Allegiance young. It says: "I pledge allegiance to the gag, of the united states of vaudeville, and to the repulsive way we stand, donations understood, with licorice for just us, and not all!" I have no idea who wrote the pledge, or where it came from, but it makes more sense than the American Pledge of Allegiance ever did to me! I understand gags, more than flags. I get repulsive and republic mixed up. "Just us" is really similar to justice. I think 5 year olds reciting the Vaudeville Pledge understand more of what they are pledging to, than 15 year olds reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance! I have yet to meet an American who can testify that saying the Pledge made him or her more patriotic. Everyone I have asked has said they only recited the Pledge until they were not forced to. My observation is Americans stop doing the Pledge of Allegiance the minute they are out of paternalistic, authoritarian environments, i.e., once they grow up.

homepage: homepage: http://www.angelfire.com/la3/kirstenanderberg
address: address: Seattle, Wa USA

They don't force recitation any more. 26.Mar.2004 22:45

Austin Gross

I never said it in public school and they never bothered me.

As for the "under god" words...ugh. who cares? thats just one of those things that you got to suck up and ignore. its so minor.

suck up and ignore it 26.Mar.2004 23:39

ignorant prick

that suck up and ignore it attitude is what brought this country to this point to begin with. what is a free country without freedom? perhaps, honey, you have to suck up the fact that you are a sheep willing to go along with the masses in order to maintain the status quo ... think for yourself for gODs sake.

Yep, refuse! 27.Mar.2004 02:39

Migratory Bird

I have refused to say the pledge of allegiance since the fifth grade, when I sat down, and refused to say anymore propoganda for this country. It is the not the under god bullshit, it is the whole thing. They do not have my pledge. People have my pledge, unstated.

Dear "ignorant prick" 27.Mar.2004 15:53

Austin Gross

I never said anything about going along with the masses to maintain a status quo. Explain to me exactly how the words "under god" maintain a status quo. Right now. I insist.

OK, Austin here it is... 27.Mar.2004 18:25


Saying the words "under god" maintain the status quo because it reenforces the idea that we are all happy little Judeo-Christian Patriots and even if there was a god, saying such bullshit makes a liar out of him/her/it. We do NOT have Liberty and Justice for all! What we have is Capitalistic, Authoritarian fuck-fest run by the two wings of the Plutocracy. Forced religion and patriotism is just another way of trying to subjegate young minds. To make them robots for the army, to make them ahamed of thier sexuality or just make them associate the flag and bible with whatever elitist agenda happens to be pushed.

Fuck the Pledge and Fuck the Religious Right!

Liberty, Solidarty and Ecology,
if you are going to pledge,
pledge to those,


Finally someone with a name. 27.Mar.2004 18:57

Austin Gross

Mark, I hate the religious right. I don't want to hear my favorite songs on the radio missing half their words. I don't want drugs or premarital sex restricted because some asshole thinks they're immoral.

But the truth is, these two words don't matter for shit in the big picture. Saying them doesn't really have much effect on a kid's religion. In elementary school, these just felt like a bunch of words without meaning to recite, and that's fine. Sure, its unconstitutional in reality...sure, it discriminates against atheists and the like. But its SO VERY SMALL! Your efforts would be much better spent on a real issue.

Greetings Austin... 28.Mar.2004 16:29

Mark Resist

Thank you for responding. However I maintain that being coerced to say the pledge through subtle or overt pressure IS a big deal. As a libertarian communist I take great exception to pledging my allegiance to any nation state and there are many others that do so as well. Generally speaking I do put my energies toward other issues. But when I hear about people who are persecuted for not saluting this force propped salute it pisses me off! I won't and I stand in solidarity others who refuse as well. Psychologically this is how the State begins to grind a populace into compliance, beginning with seemingly small ritual gestures and slogans. Now starting tommorow Austin, you will raise your palm at 45 degree angle toward a picture of Bush everyday and pledge: "I surrender my heart and mind to you". It's no big deal, I'm sure you won't mind....it's just a little thing.

What? You won't do it? Thought so.

Take it easy, keep up the resistance,

Flag Worship 28.Mar.2004 18:14


Damn, I vaguely vaguely being punished in grade school for refusing to pledge allegiance.

Later, in High School, I refused to stand, take off my hat and pledge allegiance at a school prep rally - I had skipped it, but was caught and obediently attended. Then kicked out for refusing the allegiance, I then stepped beside the flag and flipped off the the flag and the audience, then was kicked back in. This ritual happened several times.

I spend most prep rallies in either the school library photocopying radical posters hidden under reference books (the approved use of the machine), or in the art room- either printing (with silkscreens) anarchist and anti-authoritorian t-shirts, patches, and posters, or making sculptures. Although, a few times I took walks in the park with friends.

Then one day a few dozen "skaters" (skateboarding hip-hop culture youths) were put into detention for refusing to take off their hats for the pledge at a prep rally. Three people were expelled. The next prep rally, I had organized 150-200 people (in a school of 2,000) to attend and refuse the pledge altogether, many of whom recited lyrics from a Jello Biafra song and flipped off the flag. I was armed with the decision of "West Virginia State Board of Education vs. Barnette"- "For religious reasons, Walter Barnette, a Jehovah's Witness, refused to allow his children to salute the flag and say the Pledge. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor."

The school had initially decided that all JW's involved in the refusal would be exempt from punishment (2 people with JW parents, but weren't themselves) and everyone else would be put in detention. Faced with angry parents of about 150 children (about 1/15th of the school kids), the administration backed down and invited my friends who were expelled back into the school.

I dropped out at the end of my JR. year, got a GED, and attended Community College which I learned was not unlike HS with ashtrays.

Not everyone obeys the pledge of allegiance.

Really though, the problem is much deeper than the pledge of allegiance, its the entire authoritorian school structure which was initially designed to serve corporations and the state. See the "Underground History of American Education" :  http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

But Mark, you don't have to say it! 28.Mar.2004 19:57

Austin Gross

If the pledge of allegence grinds on little kids' minds and turns them into drones for America, I ought to be one too. I said it right up till middle school, when I started realizing what it was about. Then I stopped, and haven't been bothered since. Clearly, if its intent was to push me into a patriotic mold, it failed.

Cemendur: you could have taken them to court on that, actually.

Yep 28.Mar.2004 22:20


Perhaps, but they backed down. They new they would loose in court if I/we persisted.

I was a direct action oriented kid and was able to win the concession of the school administration. I would have taken an appeal then direct action to the school board before thinking about taking a legal route perhaps after contacting the ACLU.

In addition, I had won the concession of being able to study in the library instead of the weekly prep rallies - although I was often in the art room or elsewhere.

Incidently, I/we won a free speech (no to dress codes) concession through civil disobedience - with participants crossing a broad range of clique subcultures.

Unfortunately, they have dress codes now and likely punish kids who refuse to cite the pledge. Thats where getting youth rights/organizing guides out to campuses is so important.

I know I was heavily influenced by a few pieces of literature that I had aquired coming out of the Anarchist Autonomist Anonymous then out of Eugene. (The internet was much harder to access at that time and most organizing info came through the underground youth counter-culture.)

Youth looking for organizing info that can apply to them, check out:  http://www.radio4all.org/aia/

Shocking pics of the socialist Pledge of Allegiance 08.Apr.2004 15:25


Does every pledge of allegiance establish a religion -- the worship of
government? As a Libertarian, and an attorney too, I am fascinated by the
Pledge of Allegiance case to be argued on March 24th before the U.S. Supreme
Court. As a pro bono service, I help educate the public about the

Few people know that if they pledge allegiance to the flag, then they recite
a pledge written by a self-proclaimed socialist in the U.S. nationalism
movement, to promote socialism in the most socialistic
institution -government schools.

Few people know that the original salute to the flag was like the horrid
National Socialist German Workers' Party salute and predated it. photos at

The pledge was authored in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, first cousin and
follower of the socialist author Edward Bellamy. Edward Bellamy's futuristic
novel, "Looking Backward," (1888) described life in the year 2000. It
described a totalitarian society where private trade is outlawed, where all
men are in an "industrial army," and where the monolithic government school
is part of the "industrial army" system. It was portrayed as utopia.

As strange as it may seem, the totalitarian ideas that inspired the pledge's
author resulted in mass atrocities worldwide.

The original Pledge of Allegiance
The original Pledge of Allegiance

great photos 08.Apr.2004 15:51


great related photos at  http://members.ij.net/rex/pledge1.html

NICE LANGUAGE 10.Jul.2004 14:12

Miss America

My comment isn't about what any of you think..HEY It's AMERICA land of the FREE..A LITTLE TOO FREE I THINK!!!!!!, but I came on here with my child..I'm glad she doesn't know how FUCK is spelled yet!!!!!