For over a hundred years, students around the nation have begun their school day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The pledge remained relatively uncontroversial until 1954, when, according to Smithsonian Magazine, Congress added the phrase “under God” to fuel a strong anti-communism movement. This religious reference should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance because it is irrelevant, unconstitutional, and inherently biased.
First of all, the phrase violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, where it specifically states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” directly outlining the separation between church and state. Despite this, “under God” has not been removed from the pledge, even though it is a blatant link between religion and public education.
Not only is “under God” unconstitutional, it also marginalizes polytheistic religions. “It insults some citizens and does not consider all the religions in the USA,” freshman Jasmine Pham said. Our country is religiously and culturally diverse, and favoring monotheism in the Pledge of Allegiance is a form of intolerance and exclusion. Students of other faiths are subjected to this subtle coercion daily, which may make them feel uncomfortable or alienated .
Some people claim that if a student has an issue with a part of the pledge, they do not need to recite it. But even though saying the Pledge of Allegiance is not mandatory, students are still required to listen to it every single day during the announcements. Also, many teachers do not make it clear that reciting the pledge is optional, thus children grow accustomed to chanting the pledge from kindergarten onward.
Kids may not realize the gradual impact of the pledge as it is drilled into their heads daily. But the words become a cultural norm for us, and we are slowly indoctrinated by the religious prejudices present in the pledge. If the phrase “under God” were removed from the pledge, the students would no longer be subjected to words they may not believe.
Many supporters of the current pledge argue that it should be kept as is for the sake of tradition. However, as mentioned before, the phrase “under God” was added in 1954 to distinguish the U.S. from prominent “godless” communist states, such as the Soviet Union. As the pledge was altered to include that phrase, it can easily be altered again to remove it.
Moreover, the Pledge of Allegiance was initially established to endorse patriotism and national unity. Including a religious reference in the pledge only divides the people. By removing the “under God” phrase, it would be restored to its original purpose.
Some people do not have an opinion about the pledge controversy. “I don’t care about keeping or removing ‘under God’ because as long as I know that I have shown my allegiance to my country through my thoughts, words and actions, two words can’t and won’t change my pride in being an American,” Pham said.
Regardless, the phrase should be removed due to its unconstitutionality and irrelevance today. References to a specific religion in our national pledge undermine and debase the values America shares as a nation. Therefore, the pledge needs to be amended for the sake of the citizens and America as a whole.