Saturday, June 21, 2008

Suggested Letter to Schools

I would like to recommend that you identify any schools in your area where students routinely say the Pledge of Allegiance and send the school a letter like the following:


I would like to bring to your attention that your school might be teaching a pernicious form of bigotry.

If you look at history, the reason 'under God' was added to the Pledge of Allegiance was to keep atheists out of public office and, in general, to promote public animosity towards atheists. This happened in 1954, during the McCarthy era. Their specific target was atheist communists, but they actually targeted all atheists.

The American Sociological Association reports that Americans see atheists as the least trusted minority - the group that they see as least sharing their American values. This is not at all surprising when schools teach children that those American values include 'one nation under God'.

Even a LIE told about Obama's refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance is enough to threaten his campaign. You can imagine the effect it would have on any candidate's chances of winning an election if that candidate were to actually refuse to say the Pledge.

Atheists (or at least those unwilling to lie about their beliefs) are now entirely blocked from public office. Over half of the population says that they would not vote for an atheist candidate.

They learn these values starting on the first day of school, when a government teacher stands in front of them and tells them that there are four values that run opposite to what all good American support; atheism, rebellion, tyranny, and injustice for all.

By the way, I do not think that allowing students to sit out the Pledge at all mitigates the harm done. This is typically interpreted as, "Students have freedom of speech, and this means they are free to hold anti-American values if they want to. In opting out of the Pledge, they are certainly showing disrespect for everything good in this country, but one of those good things is freedom to treat this country with contempt."

In fact, it simply reinforces the lesson that atheists cannot be good and patriotic Americans to have atheists conspicuously excluded from the Pledge of Allegiance. Rather than mitigating the harm, their exclusion adds to the harm.

This is a lesson that we should not be teaching children in our public schools.

At least, to the degree you are allowed to do so consistent with the law, I would like to request that you find some productive way to mitigate against these harms.

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