Requiring pledge sparks disagreement


Photo by Maribeth Eiken

Nikol Slatinska

“One Nation under God.”
Since being added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower, those words have created copious controversy in the so-called “indivisible” nation. Claiming that the phrase violates their natural rights, some have even taken the discussion to court.
Perhaps the most notable case against the pledge was the 2004 Elk Grove United School District v. Newdow dispute, in which Michael Newdow tried to sue his daughter’s school for requiring students to say the pledge every day, stating that the words “under God” contradict the First Amendment of the Constitution. The court rejected Newdow’s argument because of custody reasons, but that didn’t stop other citizens’ identical claims.
Sophomore Ilinca Popescu agrees that the forced citation of the pledge of allegiance is wrong. She believes it’s immoral that education systems demand young children to recite the pledge daily, despite them having little to no knowledge of the political and social achievements of the country they’re promising their sovereignty to.
“These very people may not even believe in a God or the value of Christian teachings that the government seems so heavily centered around nowadays,” Popescu said. “When reciting ‘one nation under God,’ you are forcing them to stray from their personal opinions.”
Jennifer Black Cone, who leads RBHS students in the pledge every Monday, has no issue with it, but doesn’t dispute the fact that some people are offended by it. Although she gets frustrated with the governmental entities that handicap public education, she still believes in the essence of the pledge, which is meant to capture how America has survived many crises and what it can still accomplish.
Since I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I personally see no problem,” Black Cone said.  “However, with our diverse culture, it might be off-putting to some.”
Junior Logan Rodgers does not take offense in the least by the pledge and believes because RBHS is a public school where education is made possible by the national government, it’s the students’ obligation to show respect in return.
“I believe the pledge affects our military the most,” Rodgers said. “It shows that the citizens they protect are grateful and supportive of what they do.”
Rodgers would like to see a change that entails social studies teachers to explain the pledge to the new freshmen every year to ensure that they understand what it signifies.
Popescu believes the pledge results in a discriminated against society, negating the pledge’s final words of “with liberty and justice for all.” She thinks it mostly affects younger people and interferes with what they know to be true, and reciting it too often causes the pledge to lose its meaning.
“Would you pledge to a country every day if you were aware of the systematic oppression on people you identify with?” Popescu said. “Whether you are patriotic or not should be up to the individual.”
Junior RonTayza Hill calls the idea of being required to say the pledge “dumb,” and she chooses to not say it, believing that it’s obvious “liberty and justice for all” is not something the country has achieved.
“We are taught this pledge at such a young age and forced to say it, as well,” Hill said. “Yet none of us are truly aware of what it means whenever we are taught the words, which is creepy considering we are blindly following this command.”
Black Cone said the state legislature mandates that the pledge be recited out loud once a week. She believes the overall effect of the pledge is positive.
We have many students who have family members who are serving in our armed services or have escaped war-torn countries and are living a better life in America,” Black Cone said. “For them, the pledge is a reminder of sacrifice and safe havens. I personally do not see a need for a change.”
Popescu has made it clear that she disagrees. For anything to change, she thinks students should not be required to say the pledge at all. She understands the idea of showing respect to those who gave their lives for the nation’s freedom, but feels that people should not have to change their beliefs to do that.
“Give the veteran a medal,” Popescu said. “Don’t salute a flag.”