My Experience with the Pledge of Allegiance

It must be an axiom of human nature that someone
who far disagrees with another person over a subject
will venture ridicule or a comment of distaste toward
that individual.

The day was Tuesday, during the later half of the
month of March, in which I spent the bulk of day at my
school, as is required of all students — unless one is
interrupted by the unfortunate occurrence of illness
or if one undertakes the opportunity of playing hooky.
It so happened that neither of these possibilities
took place on that day, and therefore I proceeded to
school as usual. School would approach a close in two
months, so I didn’t mind being there.

Shortly after my arrival at school, the bell rang
and the massive volume of students undertook the
effort of going to first period. For me, first period
was Algebra II, so in time that period came to an end
after over a half hour of listening to my instructor’s
lecture and recording notes, which on that day
consisted of factoring polynomials.

Next I went to my U.S. History class, my only
advanced placement course that year (others were
honors courses though). A displeasing fact of second
period was the Pledge of Allegiance, in which the
entire class, along with the teacher, stood up, with
right hands pressing against our chests, as we faced
the flag that hung just below the ceiling at the
cornet of the room. Additionaly, as we all stood in
that position, we recited the pledge.

Unfortunately, it was the new pledge, the one
approved in the 1950’s. Two controversial words
resided in the pledge, “under God.” If you inquire me
of it, I think it is wrong to have these two words in
the pledge. Not to disrespect the beliefs of others,
but in fact to preserve those beliefs. I do
not think the school, a public one at that, should
condone certain beliefs in such practices as reciting
the pledge.

Regardless, the class recited the pledge in
entirety, and no one ever did object to the pledge or
otherwise sit down in silence during it as a protest.
Not even myself, a nonreligious person who disagrees
with it. The teacher, the students, and the speaker
over the intercom all joined one another in unanimous
recitation of the pledge.

So what course of action did I undertake during the
recitation, since I disagreed with that bit in the
pledge? Well, what I have done varies from day to
day. Some days, I’ll say “under God” while having my
left hand in my pocket with fingers crossed, as to
signify that I’m lying when I say that. This way, no
student surrounding where I sat would discover my
objection.

There are also days in which I shall insert a
different phrase than those two words. I have said
such things as “under good,” “under Dog,” or something
similar. It was my hope that I could still protest
the pledge while still having some sort of sound emit
from my mouth other that “under God,” and then perhaps
no student would bother me.

Finally, I decided that what I was doing was
unnecessary, in that I shouldn’t pretend that I don’t
disagree with it. Therefore, I assumed an air of
boldness and insisted on silence during the saying of
the two words. This I had done for a whole week, and
no one noticed (or, if they did notice, they did not
make any effort to voice objection). Therefore, I
continued to stand up, hand over heart, reciting the
pledge in second period of everyday, while maintaining
a brief silence during the words “under God.”

If my hope was not to cause any disturbance, I was
mistaken. On the aforementioned Tuesday, of when this
story occurred, the class had just finished reciting
the pledge whereupon a student, in a desk adjacent to
mine, apparently had qualms with what I had been
doing.

“Why don’t you say “under God?” he stated, quite
quickly, with a slight frown on his face.

At this point, all the students in the classroom
were acting upon sitting back in their desks. No one
else was speaking, and this confounded student had the
audacity to initiate a minor confrontation in the
middle of class!

A second after my ears received his words, my heart
ceased for a brief couple of seconds, and my stomach
felt as if sugar had been poured into it. These
feelings were amplified due in fact to that the whole
class was there! Thirty people, all who could have
seen and heard what my fellow classmate had to say.
Arguing in front of everyone was not at all what I had
interest in, and I consequently I took effort to
undermine his objection.

“So?” I responded.

“No, I did, I clearly know that you didn’t say
it.”

After this short exchange of words, we were both
back in our seats, as with all the class, except the
teacher who stood at the podium. But it was too late
— I looked briefly behind my shoulder and saw that
most of the eyes in the room were pointing in my
direction, and it was clear that their attention was
caught. Whether or not some of them heard all of what
was said I was unsure of, but I dearly hoped that the
teacher would intervene and begin the lesson for the
day.

The student who caused this unpleasant occurrence
said nothing more, for the teacher soon said, “All
right, today we need to review on the Gilded Age
era.”

The confrontation could have been worse, I am glad
to say, but I am still unhappy that it occurred. I
suppose it was only to be expected after time. If I
had just conformed to the majority and recite the
pledge in entirety, it perhaps would not have
happened.

However, doing this would be at the expense of my
integrity. It would compromise my adherence to the set
of principles that I followed. After all, why should
I be a hypocrite and acknowledge a supernatural being
that I did not believe in? Alas, because of my
quixotic ways in preserving my opinions, I had to
endure that short experience.

I am at least happy that the pledge is voluntary,
and this means that I was allowed to abstain from
reciting part of the pledge that I had disagreements
with. I have no problem pledging allegiance to my
country, but I will not do so toward a being whom I
think is nothing more than myth.

Yet, if the words “under God” were not in the
pledge, this wouldn’t be a problem. I wouldn’t be
subject to ridicule by fellow students because I did
not believe in the same things that they did.
Proponents of the religious pledge fail to address
this problem with students who disagree with the
pledge. I will not conform to the minority, but yet I
shall endure the distaste expressed by the members of
the majority.

I also think that the original, secular pledge was
rather constructive as well as avoiding divisiveness.
“One nation, indivisible” is a great phrase, for it
includes everyone in America. But when a deity
is credited for residing over this nation, this
disrespects those who don’t even accept this
being.

Of course, I am simply a “whiny, selfish,
politically correct liberal who fails to recognize
that this country was founded on Christian
principles,” so the opinions above are only expected.
At least, these are the things that many politicians
and radio show hosts feel confident in proclaiming.
And I am a proponent of smaller government! Not
exactly fitting the definition of a liberal

Well, it’s not a problem now. The pledge of
allegiance has been ruled to be unconstitutional
because of those infamous two words, and so I might
not have to say those two words again. That is, if
the decision isn’t overturned in time. But in wake of
the ruling, it’s harsh to even admit to being a
nonbeliever amongst the swell of backlash.

Alas, my fellow people, religious or otherwise, who
support the ruling, be steadfast, and do not suspend
the strength of your convictions because they are
unpopular.