Your post brings up a really good point. For all of our concern about protecting our children from religion, they may very well believe in a god, in the end. As a pretty open-minded freethinker, I have no problem with my son believing in a god. As long as he's well-informed of his choices and has come to those conclusions with some sense of reason and rationale, I'll except his opinions.
I was listening to NPR this evening, and there was a story about the pledge. They were talking about a school district where they were trying to get the pledge removed. I was on my walk, so I couldn't take notes, but it was in California. Their objection to the pledge was more about not making children vow their allegiance to this nation. The didn't even mention the "under god" part, but I agreed with them. Apparently, in the school district they were dealing with, most of the children don't say the pledge anyway. The children are "invited" to say the pledge, and the report said that only about three or four students usually stand to say it. Where I live, students aren't "invited" to say it, but expected to. My daughter says it, but remains silent during the "under god" portion. I wonder what would happen if she didn't even stand?
I talked to my girl about it before she went to school, and gave the same 3 options as were mentioned - saying it as the principal does, leaving out the god part, or not saying it at all. We also have heathen friends who say "under gods" and she mentioned that might be an option for her, a mild dissent.
When it actually came up though, she was very upset and angry, she said "It's like they are saying atheists aren't patriotic, aren't real Americans!" she was very angry and wanted me to go down there and put a stop to it. I explained that I probably couldn't do it, that many people have tried to have that part removed, that it wasn't an original part of the pledge, etc, and she just got madder and madder & even cried. She pointed out that the speaker system belongs to the government, (and the electricity it takes, and the floor she stands on while she reads it, she went on and on...) and that they are using our tax dollars to pay the person who is reading this pledge, and that this was un-American and rude and unfair. She insisted I should try to get the police to go down to the school right that minute and rectify things. It was really sad and frustrating, she really thought the police would immediately fix it.
Later she came up with the idea of saying "One nation, under Godzilla" because we are huge fans of Godzilla, as she said "He's just as make-believe and way cooler than god!" but then when the time came she just whispered it because she doesn't want to actually mock the flag or the pledge, she's just super pissed that the school is doing this pledge reading which she feels is deliberately disrespectful to a huge number of people, which I have to agree it is, and she hates that people are doing that with tax dollars and getting away with that. So now she sits quietly, and no one gives her any grief about it, but it is still pretty sad & obnoxious.
As a Brit ex pat in Canada I find the Pledge to be a bizarre and uniquely American quirk anyway. I imagine that they would simply say the Pledge as is, in order to fit in, especially at a younger age. My three year old came back from daycare with a "prayer" to say before meals.
There was no mention of gods or anything, and it consisted of saying thankyou for the food. She finished the "prayer" with a triumphant "All Men!" which was fun. I then asked her who she was thanking. She said "Monica. She does the cooking."
Credit where it's due!