A North Dakota school board has put an end to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before each meeting because members complained that the patriotic verse is problematic since it has the words “under God.”
On Tuesday, the Fargo School Board voted 7-2 to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting.
North Dakota newspaper Inforum reported that a school board member nixed the Pledge of Allegiance because it didn’t align with the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion values. Some of the school board members contended that the words “under God” were excluding many people.
Fargo School Board member Seth Holden said, “Given that the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized. The text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian god and therefore, it does not include any other face such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students at FPS.”
Holden claimed that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is a “non-inclusionary act.”
Holden added, “The statement that we are ‘one nation under God,’ is the Judeo-Christian God… is simply an untrue statement. We are one nation under many or no gods.”
He also stated that it is an “indisputable fact” that “not all U.S. citizens have liberty and justice… therefore making the line ‘one nation with liberty and justice for all’ an untrue statement.”
School Board President Dr. Tracie Newman said, “I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings. I would much prefer that we open our meetings with a shared statement of purpose that would bring us all together to do the work of the board.”
Two other board members suggested that each meeting start with reading one of the school district’s values.
Board member Robin Nelson argued that the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited at the meetings, and voted in favor of keeping it as part of the program.
Former Fargo School Board member David Paulson stated, “We are misinterpreting the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge isn’t a show of our patriotism, it’s an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom.”
Four members of the community called for the Pledge of Allegiance to continue.
The Fargo School Board only passed the motion to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting on March 22.
The Fargo public school district will still allow schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Board further believes that the salute to the flag and the daily pledge of allegiance and the words and music of the national anthem can help students learn these principles. Therefore, the principal of each school and/or any teacher is allowed to provide a daily program for the voluntary salute to the flag and pledge of allegiance. This policy recognizes that the beliefs of some students and teachers prohibit their participation in these patriotic exercises. No person shall be required to salute, stand, or otherwise participate in this exercise if it is against his/her beliefs. All persons, however, are expected to show respect to the flag and to the participation of others in the exercise.