The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

The Pledge of Allegiance should be required in schools of the U.S.A

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/30/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 618 times Debate No: 74524
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




I believe that the Pledge of Allegiance should be mandatory in schools that agree with the Pledge and that a rule such as this would not invalidate the Constitution. So I am debating those who oppose me, and I look forward to an interesting time.

1st Round acceptance. No further rules apply towards structure of debate. Simply present your arguments and rebuttals, and any forfeiture or fowl language results in loss for that debater.


I accept the challenge.

As my opponent is advocating a change in the status quo, she has the BoP. I wish her the best of luck!
Debate Round No. 1


I hold the BoP. Good luck to Con and thanks for accepting. Keep in mind, I (pro) am 13 years old, so I do not refer to 'minors' as if I were some crabby grandma who's just concerned about traditionalism. I am simply debating my point of view, which is that the Pledge is important. I also want to clear up a few assumptions which some people have about rules in education, such as that of speaking the Pledge of Allegiance being mandatory. Let the debating commence.

Argument 1:
Students can be entitled to rules; it does not violate freedom of speech. For example, the 2nd Amendment says that we have the right to bear arms. But are minors allowed? Thus, the Constitution is irrelevant to Con's standpoint.

Argument 2:
Not saying the Pledge of Allegiance shows disloyalty and immaturity. The contents of the Pledge should not go against belief systems of people of America, if they do, it is wrong.

Argument 3:
If stating the Pledge in American schools was mandatory, the students would be forced to contemplate the system behind our free country and it would hopefully help the kids remember the fallen soldiers and deceased leaders who previously fought for this wonderful nation. Some students take this freedom for granted; this law is something that would help kids make the most of every moment they have with good education and the freedom of belief.

Argument 4:
Saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school is professional and respectful. A lot of kids need rules whether it's because of their desire for structure or because they need discipline. Having the speaking of the Pledge obligatory would enrich their maturity, professionalism, and respect for each school day. Why? because of the contents of the Pledge which would produce positive effects no matter who they are. America deserves allegiance--even from the young people.

I conclude my first round.


Thank you! My opponent has accepted the BoP, which means I need only negate her arguments. However, I retain the right to employ my own, should I feel I need to do so in order to help negate the resolution. In this particular instance, I feel that doing so would be beneficial.

Contention 1: A Compulsory Pledge Contradicts American Values

America is a nation founded, as the rhetoric loves to remind us, on liberty and democracy. Individuals are free to pursue their desires. Everyone is treated equally under the law. So what would it say about the United States, a nation of freedom, if it forced everyone to swear obedience?

This seems to me like a fairly clear-cut ethical position. If someone is compelled to do something, they cannot be said to be doing it of their own free will. Thus, by mandating people to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we are not instilling loyalty and patriotism. If anything, we are sowing the seeds of confusion, as people are being forced to sweet-talk liberty, and we may even be fostering resentment.

Indoctrinating people into a belief system is far inferior to having them choose it. Indoctrination discourages dissent and critical discussion, both of which are critical to society today. If people are never challenged in their beliefs, those beliefs will be forever shallow.

Essentially, students will repeat their allegiance over and over without ever understanding why their country deserves their allegiance or even asking if it really does. They will form a base opinion and never be able to support it. Mandating the Pledge instills a mindless, robotic obedience. It becomes a display of rote memorization, not loyalty or passion. In essence, forcing people to recite the Pledge makes it a chore and strips it of all meaning.

Subpoint: Forcing Students to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance is Unconstitutional

In the Supreme Court Case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the court ruled that making the Pledge of Allegiance compulsory is a violation of the 1st and 14th amendments to the Constitution [1]. Thus mandating the Pledge is not only incompatible with liberal ethics of freedom and liberty; it is also illegal and unconstitutional.

My opponent did not divide the rounds into arguments and rebuttals, so I shall also include rebuttals in this round.

Rebuttal to Contention 1

I am not 100% certain what my opponent is saying here. It seems like she is saying that Constitutional rights do not apply to students and uses a rather absurd example to argue that. However, in the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, the court ruled 7-2 that "students don't shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates" [2]. This means that constitutional rights, such as the freedom of speech, do, in fact, apply to students and are relevant to this discussion.

Rebuttal to Contention 2

There are numerous reasons why a student might decide not to say the Pledge. For some, it violates their beliefs. Atheists, for example, may object to the phrase "under God" as they don't recognize the existence of such a being. Forcing them to recite the Pledge, then, is forcing them to adhere to traditional Judeo-Christian morality, which is a violation of their constitutional right to freedom of religion. In other cases, students may feel that the United States does not live up to the values expressed in the Pledge. A lesbian student in Georgia, for example, may not feel like "liberty and justice for all" applies to her, since not only is she unable to marry in her state, but she can also be fired from any job she gets because of her sexual orientation [3]. Legally excluding minority students while forcing them to pay lip service to the virtues of the nation that excludes them is nothing short of cruel.

Rebuttal to Contention 3

Here my opponent argues that a compulsory Pledge would force students to consider the system behind the Pledge. I believe the opposite to be the case - that a compulsory Pledge will, in fact, discourage critical thought. We know that the more times one does something, the less they have to think about it. It becomes mindless instinct, a simple chore to perform. People will become automatons, reciting words they've never considered the meanings of. While this article applies to college cirriculums, the same concept applies to a rote memorization of the Pledge. The process will become automatic, the meaning ineffective, and critical conceptions of the United States will be dulled. Recitation and rote memorization are ineffectual tools for substantiating critical thought [4].

Rebuttal to Contention 4

Saying the Pledge is professional and respectful. Yes. Granted. But so is standing or sitting in silence. If a Muslim boy goes to his Christian friend's house for dinner, and they say grace, he could join in, but it would equally, if not more, respectful for him to simply wait in silence. The same concept applies to reciting the Pledge in schools.

I wish my opponent the best of luck in the next round!
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you, Con. I enjoyed reading the well-entertained and detailed arguments you brought forth! This round is rebuttals only, but this rule is not strict so I do not mind new contentions if you have any more to bring on spotlight.

Con states, "America is a nation founded, as the rhetoric loves to remind us, on liberty and democracy." This is where the semantics and technicality gets confusing. First, we must understand how we can't talk about America from a structurally constitutional and patriotic perspective unless we are allegiant to the nation's foundation and leaders. If you aren't willing to speak the Pledge of Allegiance, you are not loyal to the nation's foundation and leaders, so you can't jump up and blurt the laws of Americans' freedom and use that as a defense for not saying the Pledge.

" mandating people to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we are not instilling loyalty and patriotism." Reciting the Pledge will make the citizens of America think about the substructure and contents of the U.S.A.

Con states, "If anything, we are sowing the seeds of confusion, as people are being forced to sweet-talk liberty, and we may even be fostering resentment." These people under the rule of reciting the Pledge are students, and rules are common among the education environment. A rule does not violate America's fundamentals, and definitely not the Constitution. Reciting the Pledge means you are on the side of America. When you are pro-America, you are also pro-Constitution. Thus, saying the Pledge of Allegiance--which demonstrates being pro-America--is not hard to ask of citizens of the great nation on subject. Especially because rules for minors do not change the value of the Constitutional laws, making the Pledge mandatory in schools does not violate America's foundational concepts.

"Indoctrinating people into a belief system is far inferior to having them choose it." Are you saying that you either choose to be pro-America, con, or undecided? Because I am saying that all people But there are many instances in schools across America when an opinion is taught as fact or information is brought to a one-sided conclusion and taught as truth to the kids. When kids state their allegiance to the country they live in, they choose to be pro-America. Under what circumstance would we want the students to be disloyal to their nation? The fact that some students don't understand the principles of patriotism is another reason the Pledge should be enforced. It's a learning system. If they don't like America, why do they go to American-government funded schools?

"This means that constitutional rights, such as the freedom of speech, do, in fact, apply to students and are relevant to this discussion." Then why does the 2nd Amendment say we have the right to bear arms yet in most places minors are not allowed to own guns?

The "under God" part implies the beliefs of our Founding Fathers, the ones who structured this country in the first place, and it presumes that the nation was under God when it was created. Debates have concluded that when students say the Pledge, "under God" may or may not be quoted, whether the recitation is required or not.

"...a compulsory Pledge will, in fact, discourage critical thought...I believe...We know that the more times one does something, the less they have to think about it." Con states this as an opinion, because it obviously isn't fact. Both mine and Con's arguments about the thought process are opinions that can't be fully backed up with facts. I believe that the more times one says something the more they will remember it through out their life and the more they will consider the words/meaning. Again, this is opinion but now that we have both stated our positions, we can drop this particular subject.

My opponent says that it is respectful enough, if not more respectful, to sit in silence instead of joining in the recitation. Yet he grants that saying the Pledge is professional (and respectful). His stance in his final paragraph does not prove anything according to the resolution. My case here, if nothing else, is that it should not be a problem for students to recite the Pledge even if they don't fully recognize the contents, because memorization is good for the brain and it expresses professionalism and respectfulness even if they don't realize it. If saying the Pledge was mandatory it wouldn't do any harm and might even cause things for the better.

Thank you, Con! I look forward to the next round.


Reconstructions: Ethics

As a nation of liberty and democracy, people have the freedoms to both accept and reject the rhetoric and even framework of the United States. Patriotism, after all, is not blind love for your country. Patriotism is recognizing your country's s and working to make it better. It is fully possible to love your country while recognizing valid criticisms and working on improvements. Those who have struggled for change in America have done so because they love it and wish to see it live up to its ideals. Acts of civil protest and disobedience are perfect examples of this. Loyalty is more than unquestioning obedience. A mandated Pledge undercuts this idea. By removing the choice for people to choose to be loyal, the very meaning of loyalty and patriotism are lost. Furthermore, a compulsory fledge forces America to become the symbol of hypocrisy, claiming to cherish loyalty while leaving citizens no choice but to be loyal. This makes America no better than its enemies in this respect. Making the Pledge mandatory censors dissent and stifles debate. If we force citizens to be loyal, how are we any different the Soviet Union censoring anti-government propoganda or North Korea forcing its people to praise their great leader? By removing Americans' ability to choose, we remove their liberty.

Reconstructions: Legality

My opponent's only rebuttal to my constitutional argument is the right to bear arms. It is a false analogy to compare freedom of speech and religion, which are negative rights (meaning the right to freedom from interference) and the right to bear arms, which is effectually a positive right (a right that allows people to possess something). Furthermore, there are fairly obvious reasons why children should not own guns, and I hardly think that this is a point that needs clarifying in a debate. If my opponent wishes to argue that children should be allowed to own and use firearms, then she is welcome to instigate a different debate. Further, she drops the point that students keep the right to free speech in schools, which is exactly what the Supreme Court said. Again, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution, the highest law in the land, to decide against making the Pledge mandatory, as doing so would violate Americans' rights. Please extend this contention. As the next round is the last round, my opponent will not be allowed to introduce new arguments against this contention. Therefore, I win this one.


The "Under God" aspect of the Pledge does not reflect the beliefs of the Founding Fathers for two reasons. First, most of the Founding Fathers were deists. Second, the phrase "Under God" was not added to the Pledge until 1954 [1]. My opponent then shifts her goalposts and says:

"Debates have concluded that when students say the Pledge, "under God" may or may not be quoted whether the recitation is required or not."

Do not let my opponent get away with shifting the goalposts. It is her burden to fulfill that reciting the Pledge is mandatory. She cannot then backtrack and pick and choose which aspects of the Pledge must be recited.

It is true that saying the Pledge or simply waiting in silence are both respectful. However, since both are respectful - and waiting in silence is argubaly more so, which my opponent does not challnege - then the point goes to me because my opponent has the BoP. While this point was not dropped, because she has the burden and I successfully negated it by pointing out an equally viable alternative, I win this point.

My opponent reasserts that rote memorization is good despite my argument and source in the last round that pointed out how memorization is an ineffectual tool -at best - for stimulating critical thought. This is a dropped argument. Since the next round is the last, do not let my opponent make any arguments on this point. It goes to CON.

My opponent says that there are many instances in schools where opinions are taught as fact. This is true. This does not make them okay nor desirable. If students do not understand the principles of patriotism, a better solution would be to teach them about it rather than force them to conform to it. That way, they can develop their own critical thinking skills and make their own decisions, rather than having someone else make decisions for them.

I wish to once again thank my opponent, and I look forward to the final round!

Debate Round No. 3


LaughItUpLydia forfeited this round.


Regrettably, my opponent has forfeited her final round.

Please extend all my arguments and vote CON!

Thanks again to my opponent for a good debate.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Skepticalone 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: "By removing Americans' ability to choose, we remove their liberty." Pro needed to address this but did not. Additionally, Pro forfeited last round as well.