The Pledge of Allegiance will no longer be taught in North Dakota schools, a conservative state. Before starting board meetings, the board recited the Pledge in honor of the United States of America and the flag. The word “under God” explicitly excludes all other faiths in the community, hence the school board just moved to abolish the Pledge.
In a memo to the board, Fargo Board of Education President Dr. Tracie Newman voiced her belief that the pledge should be reinstated because the flood of “negative local and national criticism” could take time and resources away from the upcoming school year.
The Fargo School Board voted 7-2 to eliminate the Pledge from their meetings after choosing to maintain it in the spring. Robin Nelson, one of two board members to vote against dropping the pledge, said that Vice President Seth Holden revisited the issue after elections that added four new board members.
Nelson told the Daily Mail that Holden argued the pledge had to go because it did not adequately represent the major religions and does not acknowledge atheists and anyone who may be agnostic.
Holden asserted in a statement that the Pledge’s capitalization of the term “God” limits it to the “Judeo-Christian God” and excludes other religions including Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, all of which are practiced by employees and students.
Holden was backed by the majority of the board. Members criticized the pledge as “divisive” and “distracting,” with one urging that it be replaced with a “common statement of purpose” and another asserting that saying it doesn’t help students accomplish.
While Nelson and fellow board member Nikkie Gullickson voted to keep the Pledge at the start of their bi-weekly meetings.
The resurrected Pledge discussion is nothing more than a “distraction from other board issues,” such as mental health and hiring more teachers, according to Nelson, who claims that the Fargo School District is primarily made up of people of Christian religions.
“I did not want that right removed from me,” Nelson told the Daily Mail. “Our job is to focus on the education of the children.”
David Paulson, a former board member, claims that his former colleagues are “misinterpreting” the Pledge by emphasizing religion rather than freedom. “The Pledge isn’t a show of our patriotism, it’s an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom,” he said.
The latest vote makes Fargo the only district of schools in the region that does not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.