School Board Nixes Pledge Of Allegiance In Protest Of ‘Under God’ Phrase

For generations, students across the United States have started each day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. While there has been some pushback by parents and administrators in recent years, the tradition remains strong in countless communities.

The Fargo School Board in North Dakota, however, recently took decisive action on the issue by voting to cancel recitation of the pledge at the beginning of future meetings on the grounds that it violates the state’s “equity inclusion” mandate.

The board approved the measure with a 7-2 vote that took place a short time after four new members were added to the panel. As board member Robin Nelson explained, the majority felt that reciting the words “under God” excluded certain students and staff in schools across the district.

School Board Vice President Seth Holden advanced the measure and claimed that since the word “God” is capitalized in the pledge, it is an implicit reference to the deity worshiped by those who adhere to Judeo-Christian faiths.

For that reason, he argued: “It does not include any other faiths such as Islam, Hindu, [and] Buddhism, all of which are practice by our staff and students.”

Nelson, who cast one of the two dissenting votes, noted that the entire debate represents a “distraction from other board issues” and expressed a desire to address mental health concerns and teacher shortages across the district.

The divisive vote drew criticism throughout the surrounding communities and beyond, including from Republican state congressional candidate Ethan Harsell, who denounced the decision as “disgusting” and “absurd.”

One former member of the school board accused the majority of “misinterpreting” the intent of the pledge by focusing the debate on religious freedom.

Instead of a statement of faith or patriotism, David Paulson defined the pledge as “an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom.”

Regardless of the motivation for reciting the pledge, Board President Tracie Newman said that it is not a “useful way to begin every one of our board meetings.”

Instead, she recommended opening each meeting “with a shared statement of purpose that would bring us all together to do the work of the board.”