Texas Goosestep: Pledge of Allegiance in Schools

The state of Texas has mandated that schoolchildren must recite the Texas pledge, containing “under God”, every day while facing the state flag. This law follows a similar policy passed a few years ago requiring students to pledge allegiance to the American flag. To excuse themselves from the pledge without the note of a parent is illegal and subject to disciplinary action.

Note: In the cases of the Oath of Allegiance to the military and the Oath of Citizenship, one is not required to pronounce one’s loyalty to God. Neither our new citizens, our fighting men and women, nor our president or our Congressmen must, by obligation of law, attest to their faith. They do not have to provide evidence or the permission of another to feign from announcing that which they feel to be private. Schoolchildren, however, must.

Robert Jensen’s article on the Texas Pledge enunciates a great many more arguments with this law, most critically that it requires of schoolchildren in Texas a cult-like adherence to tradition, ceremony, and text thoughtlessly. One could argue that children should be educated in the origins and values of the society that will soon fall under their stewardship, but should this loyalty come without understanding?

Sixteenth century Anabaptists had a point when they described infant baptisms as invalid, preferring to baptize only once individuals attained educated adulthood. Political education, including the element of “under God”, should be a choice given to those who can truly understand its implications. Indoctrination never offers this choice. What use is faith, especially in this most dangerous condition where a pledge binds it with a powerful state, if one is never permitted doubt?

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