“Why I Don’t Stand”


A Staples student stands for the Pledge of Allegiance

Cole Manley ’11
News Editor

A Staples student stands for the Pledge of Allegiance
A Staples student stands for the Pledge of Allegiance

Each morning, students at Staples groan, get up from their seats, and mumble 31 words; a pledge of allegiance of sorts.

Some murmur, some dictate, and some whisper. Others stand straight up, hands over their hearts, active and awake, even at 9 a.m.

It is, after all, deemed patriotic and a tradition.

On rare days I follow, but most times I am a conscientious objector—a Pledge of Allegiance draft dodger.

Why do I refuse?

It’s not because I hate America. And it’s not because I secretly harbor a flag–burning socialist sleeper cell.

More accurately, beyond the patriotic message, I simply can’t pledge my allegiance to a nation “under God,” especially when we are fighting two wars I don’t believe in.

So why do students pledge allegiance to a nation “under God,” especially when 3–9 percent of the population label themselves as an atheist, agnostic, or non-believer (according to “The Cambridge Companion to Atheism”), a number most likely much higher for students.

In fact, the practice has been highly contested ever since its inception.

Originally created in 1892 for a celebration of Columbus Day, the Pledge has been a required element of all public schools since 2001.

Thus, most likely out of patriotism following 9/11, today schools are sending a mixed message. With the words “under God” added in 1954, the Pledge is, unintentionally or intentionally, promoting monotheism.

For atheists, agnostics, or other dissenters, having time for the Pledge seems an unnecessary infringement on our rights.

It was one thing to enforce the Pledge in the year following 9/11, but seven years later, the Pledge continues.

Additionally, for younger students who have no idea what words like “indivisible” and “liberty” mean, the Pledge becomes unnecessary.

Whether one refuses to recite because of the words “under God” or because of the nature of the Pledge is beside the point.

What matters is that this Pledge is unrepresentative of the entire student body.

Perhaps we should reconsider whether the Pledge is necessary to promote patriotism. For students in government and U.S. History classes, learning about America is a much more effective strategy. And, most likely, students are taught enough about patriotism before high school, without mumbling, grumbling or stumbling over 31 words.