"Under God" in the US Pledge of Allegiance
Debate Rounds (4)
-First round is acceptance
-Second/third are for arguments
-No new arguments in fourth round
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I argue that the phrase "under god" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. As instigator, I have the burden of proof to show that "under god" should not be part of the US Pledge of Allegiance.
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The Pledge of Allegiance reads "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."
The first amendment of the constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." (http://www.law.cornell.edu...)
The part that pertains to this debate is "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The sheer fact that the christian god is mentioned in the pledge directly contradicts this clause. While non-Christians are a minority in the USA, it is unfair for the government to act like they do not exist. The United States is not a theocracy, and we should act like it.
My opponent cites the First Amendment in his argument - specifically citing "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion", and how the wording and mention of "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance contradicts that.
However, my opponent seems ignorant to what exactly the Pledge of Allegiance is. It isn't a mandate, it isn't an article in the Constitution, and it isn't a law. It's an expression. An expression of fealty.
The First Amendment explicitly bars Congress from creating laws that establish religion. Because there is no law stating that every American must recite the Pledge of Allegiance, it doesn't apply in this situation.
It is up to the choice of the individual on whether or not they choose to say the pledge. Because there is no penalty for opting out of the recitiation, it is equally ridiculous to assert that it violates Freedom of Speech, or any other clause present in the First Amendment.
"It isn't a law."
In 1954, Congress passed a bill, which was signed in law, altered the Pledge of Allegiance to add the phrase "under god." This was done to fight against the atheistic beliefs of the Soviet Union and Communists.
"It is up to the choice of the individual on whether or not they choose to say the pledge."
This statement by Pro is incorrect. There are five states: Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, and Illinois that require their students to recite the pledge every day at school. Also, almost every state requires that schools say the pledge. However, while the schools are required by law, nobody enforces the law. Due to the Incorporation Doctrine, states are required to abide by the first amendment. As long as anybody is required to acknowledge the existence of a higher power in a public institution, it is breaking the first amendment.
"Because there is no penalty for opting out of the recitiation, it is equally ridiculous to assert that it violates Freedom of Speech, or any other clause present in the First Amendment."
Any law that goes against the constitution should be repealed, no matter how little it is enforced. Even if it doesn't happen that often, every once in a while a public school student is suspended for not saying the pledge. The problem I have with it is that a student cannot fight the suspension as long as there is a law requiring him to do said action.
1. Americans are not forced by law to cite the Pledge
Despite Con's efforts to refute my earlier point, he either misread or misunderstood my previous point. So I would like to draw voters attention toward the exact words I used during Round 2.
"there is no law stating that every American must recite the Pledge of Allegiance".
Con's first point does not refute this claim. Many public schools have time allotted in order to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning on the school day, but again, no students are forced to say it, and those who do not wish to say it can do so at their discretion.
2. It is up to the individual to choose whether or not to say the pledge
Regarding Con's second point that there are five states which require students to recite the pledge every day at school - I would like to strike down this notion as completely false.
Let's look at the states in question -
Maryland(1): Any student or teacher who wishes to be excused from [section requiring Pledge of Allegiance] shall be excused. (Maryland Code of Education, section 7-105, (c)(3))
Texas(2): On written request from a student's parent or guardian, a school district shall excuse the student from reciting a pledge of allegiance under Subsection (b)
(Texas Education Code 25.082(b)(c))
Tennessee(3): No student shall be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance if the student or the student's parent or legal guardian objects on religious, philosophical or other grounds to the student participating in such exercise.
(Tennessee Code 49-6-1001(c)(11))
Though Massachusetts and Illinois have no written law exempting students from citing the Pledge, it has been made clear in court cases regarding the issue that students have the option to not participate in the exercise. Specifically in Sherman v. Community Consul. School Dist. 21 of Wheeling, the court ruled that as long as students are given the option to refuse, their rights are not being violated.
3. It violates Freedom of Speech
In 1943 during West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette the Supreme Court ruled that students can not be forced to cite the Pledge of Allegiance under the Free Speech Clause(4). Therefore, any claim that the Pledge of Allegiance violates Freedom of Speech is ludicrous. Americans exercise free speech simply by choosing whether or not to recite.
In the news report which Con linked, the student wasn't suspended because he refused to cite the pledge. He was suspended because he refused to stand during the pledge. This is a very important distinction for this debate, as his Freedom of Speech was not necessarily violated. Also notably, his reason for refusing to stand were non-religious. The student said, and I quote, he was “really tired of our government taking advantage of [him]". Therefore, even if the pledge omitted the phrase "Under God", this student would have been suspended as he was refusing to pledge fealty to the government.
My opponent claims that the phrase should be changed because every once in a while, a student may have disciplinary action used against him. However, this idea is preposterous. Are we going to change every law simply because people may interpret it wrong, or not know it at all? Teachers are humans like the rest of us. They are liable to make mistakes and be ignorant of specific laws. A recent poll by Kaiser showed that over 40% of Americans were unsure whether or not Obamacare was a law(5). Surely by Pro's logic, we should get rid of that too? You don't change laws due to ignorance - you simply inform the ignorant in order to increase awareness.
4. Religious disagreement is not a good enough reason
There is no convincing reason why we should change the Pledge of Allegiance. Simply disagreeing in the existence of God is not a good enough reason to change the phrasing of the Pledge. There will always be disagreements. With the lowest Congress approval rating in history, I don't believe that our country is "indivisible". And with two-thirds of African Americans being sentenced more harshly than their Caucasian counterparts(5), I could also argue that there is not "justice for all". Yet, it would be equally absurd for me to attempt to get those phrases removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, simply because I am disgruntled and disagree.
I could simply do what everyone else does - exercise the 1st Amendment and refuse to say it.
2. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com.... http://law.justia.com...
While it may not be contradictory to the Constitution for "under god" to be in the pledge of allegiance as long as there is an option to opt out, I feel so strongly about it because it's time the nation woke up and realized it's not just Christians and Jews anymore.
I will reiterate what I said last round. I believe that it is ridiculous to change something as historically significant as the Pledge of Allegiance, simply due to a religious disagreement. There will always be those who disagree (as we see with the ridiculous politics being played in Washington as we speak), and it is unreasonable to expect an outcome that every party would be in favor of. Changes should only be made when it is revealed that the current phrasing is either unlawful, or causing citizens undue hardship. Because neither of those two situations are true, the only logical result is to strike down the notion brought forward and retain the current phrasing of the Pledge of Allegiance.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Vexorator 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: While I agree with Con, Con did not refute Pro's arguments.
Vote Placed by texans14 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It came down to most convincing arguments. Pro's arguments were better.
Vote Placed by Mr.Lincoln 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It is not needed for it to be taken out.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I'm nulling this vote. I'm tempted to award to Con--I did not find all of Pro's arguments compelling and, given that the reasons he gave to NOT change the pledge weren't followed when the pledge was changed in the first place, his case seems inherently self-contradictory. Still, Con mostly conceded most of Pro's points, and rested on an appeal to his own preference in the final round, so I don't think it would be fair to give him the win, either.
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