United Kingdom - Girls who join the Guides or Brownies may stop pledging their devotion to God after complaints that the practice discriminates against non-believers. Whilst the Promise is optional, only girls who have taken it can be awarded the movement's highest badges.
I wonder if they will? If it took them a year to debate changing 'do my duty to god' to 'love my god' I doubt if they'll have the balls to drop the whole thing. I wonder, though, about the whole notion of asking children to take oaths whether they believe in god or not. I remember as a child (including being a brownie) being made to recite all sorts of stuff by schools and other organisations but I had no real conception of what taking an oath actually meant. To me, it was just a ritual chant.
Yes, Sandy. Reflecting upon group recitations, consider the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance:
Few Americans know that a socialist and an officer in the Nationalist movement, Francis Bellamy, drafted the Pledge of Allegiance. Also a preacher, his sermons on “Jesus the Socialist” and “The Socialism of the Primitive Church” prompted congregations to chase him from the ministry. Bellamy went on to work for Youth’s Companion, a national magazine. In 1892, the magazine launched a campaign to sell American flags in the public schools. In an effort to increase sales, a flag ceremony was encouraged during upcoming Columbus Day celebrations. Bellamy’s original pledge was to be included as part of the celebrations:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands—one nation indivisible—with liberty and justice for all.”
In the early 1920s, “my Flag” was changed to “the Flag of the United States of America.” In 1954, the Knights of Columbus persuaded Congress to add “under God” to differentiate the United States from the godless Communists.
While the desire to sell flags gave rise to the Pledge, American nativists also wanted to impress the duties of American citizenship upon immigrant children in hopes of breaking any remaining bonds to their lands of origin. And, with the Civil War still in recent memory, Northerners wanted to remind Southerners that the union was “indivisible.”
Historically and originally, the Pledge was not much more than a marketing tool and a slap in the face to recent immigrants and Americans living below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Thomas Jefferson once reminded his countrymen that blind confidence in government “is everywhere the parent of despotism; free government is founded on jealousy and not in confidence.” Jealousy of liberty—in the face of government claims to power—is a civic virtue, and one that our nation’s founders urged us not to forget.
Yet, American school children mindlessly pledge obedience to a flag–the most visible symbol of governmental authority; while we should be teaching them about the American Revolution, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
The ritual of schoolchildren and Americans saying the Pledge is unbecoming for a nation of free people.
Reference: “Rethinking the Pledge of Allegiance”, William J. Watkins Jr., April 5, 2004
Interesting. I'd never thought about it before, but pledging allegiance to a flag is kind of weird. You might expect a pledge to compatriots, government or country - but a flag? Now I know why.
And I love to irony of the pledge being drafted by a socialist.