Pagans and the Pledge of Allegiance
By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
Recently, during a conversation about schools and the Pledge of Allegiance, someone casually said to me, “Oh, you don’t say it, though, right? Because you’re not a Christian?” It wasn’t said in a confrontational way at all, but I was kind of surprised by the logic behind the statement. On thinking about it, I suspect it may not be an uncommon attitude among people who don’t know anything about Paganism.
Let’s face it, the Pledge of Allegiance can be a pretty hot-button issue for some folks. After all, there’s that whole separation of church and state bit, and here we are asking our children to recite an oath to the United State which includes a reference to what is clearly the Christian deity. But — much like other controversial issues in today’s society — there’s no big rulebook that says “Pagans can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance!”
The Pledge of Allegiance is actually based upon a poem written by a Baptist minister in 1892. Originally, it read as follows: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That was it. No mention of God, or even the United States itself. The reference to the “flag of the United States of America” was added in the early 1920s. During the Communist uproar of the 1950s, the words “under God” were added by Congress, turning the simple pledge into what some people see as public prayer.
So — do Pagans say the Pledge of Allegiance? I spoke to a few Pagans from around the country to see how they would respond to this issue, and the answers might surprise you.
Morgaine S., a Wiccan from Summerville, South Carolina, said, “I’m a Navy veteran and so is my husband, and I do love my country. I wouldn’t feel right about not saying the Pledge when asked to. I say the Pledge, but when I do I say “under my gods,” rather than the “under God” that everyone else says.”
A ceremonial magician who asked to be identified only as Lucius has just the opposite perspective. He said, “I don’t say the Pledge at all, because if you have to tell someone to pledge their allegiance, it’s meaningless. An oath of allegiance, whether it involves a god or not, should be voluntary and not something I’m compelled to do.”
Finally, Justyn Raine is a Pagan from California who says it doesn’t matter what god is referred to in the Pledge. “I say “under God,” because in my heart I know I’m referring to my god, not someone else’s. If you believe in any god at all, you can say the Pledge of Allegiance as it’s written.”
So, what does this mean to people who are wondering if they should say the Pledge? Political opinions aside, it’s a matter that’s a personal one — if you feel comfortable with saying the Pledge as it is currently written, go ahead. If you’d like to substitute your own deity’s name — or the phrase “under gods” instead — then do so. Likewise, if you don’t believe you should say the Pledge at all — for whatever reason — then don’t do it. The choice is yours — after all, in the United States we have the freedom to speak (or not speak) as our conscience guides us.