Loyalty oaths with religious affirmations…

by Walter Olson on January 28, 2013

A prerequisite for a high school diploma in Arizona, if some lawmakers there get their way. [Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix Business Journal]

{ 19 comments }

1 theprez98 01.28.13 at 12:49 am

I presume they don’t see the irony in *requiring* someone to say “I take this obligation freely…”

2 Richard Nieporent 01.28.13 at 8:55 am

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose or evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; so help me God.

I can’t think of anything more evil than making students swear loyalty to the United States. However, I have a proposed solution to address the “offensive” parts of the proposed oath. Simple replace United States with a blank space where one can include the country of his/her choice and God with Gaia. That should mollify Leftists.

The way Mike Sunnucks addresses this issue, you would think that he has never heard of the Pledge of Allegiance. If he did, he would know that no student is required to recite it in schools that still use it.

3 wfjag 01.28.13 at 11:28 am

@Richard Nieporent:
” However, I have a proposed solution to address the “offensive” parts of the proposed oath. Simple replace United States with a blank space where one can include the country of his/her choice and God with Gaia. ”

And, what about my right to have the oath in Esperanzo? I believe I am entitled to Esperanzo-based education, Esperanzo Studies programs, Esperanzo only TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines and Internet sites and search engines, and Esperanzo closed captioning on TV, movies and DVDs. Since Esperanzo is the Universal Language, who could object to that?

4 Ron Miller 01.28.13 at 1:21 pm

Wait. I’m left of center but I have no problem with including God in these types of things. Why? I can’t defend it rationally. I’m a Christian and I just like it.

But isn’t this one of those situations where Overlawyered and the Daily Kos line up together and hold hands like they did back in the good ole days (gay marriage fight twenty minutes ago) and fight both the loyalty pledge and the invocation of God together? In fact, isn’t this why Walter published it in the first place to underscore the Libertarian opposition?

So, while you will get your chance in other posts, shouldn’t the “Leftist” jabs be left out of this one?

5 gasman 01.28.13 at 8:01 pm

It bears strong similarity with the oath of naturalization. Is that really Arizona’s intent?

The god part is a bit over the top, as not even any oath of office (congress, supremes, president), or citizenship oath include invocation of a deity.

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=facd6db8d7e37210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=dd7ffe9dd4aa3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD

6 Stephen 01.29.13 at 1:17 am

Why does this sound eerily like the Hitler oath?

Patriotism has truly flown off the rails in America.

7 Richard Nieporent 01.29.13 at 10:41 am

This may be a new record. It took only 6 posts to violate Godwin’s Law.

8 Jason 01.29.13 at 5:33 pm

@Richard Nieporent
I worship no deity of any kind (without transfiguring the word “deity” into a meaningless mess). Should I lie and pretend I do so I can satisfy the oath? God (or Gaia or anything like it) doesn’t need to be injected into anything public. It brings us back to the Cold War days when discerning us from the pinko-commies via God-botting was a top priority.

9 Richard Nieporent 01.29.13 at 5:46 pm

Jason, you do realize that enen if this becomes law, from previous Supreme Court rulings, either it will be declared unconstitutional or anyone who objects to the oath will not have to say it.

10 Ron Miller 01.29.13 at 5:55 pm

Jason, does it really both you that much? I’m not being rhetorical, I’m really asking. I think a lot of atheists really don’t care about it in their hearts but just get worked up about it to get worked up about it. Sometimes, you have to be able to say, “Really, what is the big deal?”

11 Jason 01.30.13 at 11:28 pm

@Richard: What you describe is the likely outcome. However, the fact that people are working to make this happen is plenty disappointing.

@Ron: It doesn’t “bother” me, but if I have to take an oath where I need to affirm a belief in a deity (and thereby lie), what’s the point of even making me say the oath? You can’t dangle a diploma in front of me (or anything else, given the context of it being from a government) with the prerequisite that I become a theist. The “big deal” comes from making sure religion stays away from government, thereby justifying the quashing of any attempt that religion has to seep over.

12 David Schwartz 01.30.13 at 11:52 pm

@Ron: Is it really such a big deal to drink from a separate water fountain? Is the back of the bus any less comfortable than the front? (Not to suggest that the issues are actually comparable in importance, just to point out that being treated unequally matters, even in trivial things.)

13 Ron Miller 01.31.13 at 1:14 pm

David, I don’t see the connection. How about the government employee who calls a woman “Mrs.” How dare they assume she is married! They don’t do it to a man!

That is one response. The other is “Oh, who cares?”

I would argue the injustice is more like the one I suggested than, you know, separate water fountains and what not.

14 Ron Miller 01.31.13 at 1:16 pm

Back in the day, we put in God We Trust on the money. I think those guys had separation of church and state in mind but they say, “Ah, let’s not cut it too thin here.”

My point is I don’t think these minor intrusions are a big deal.

15 Randy 01.31.13 at 4:54 pm

I can’t think of a reason for this oath. None, nada, zilch.

When pols or state employees take an oath, its because we want them to understand the grave responsibilites they are assuming.

Graduating high schoolers aren’t stepping into government jobs.

I’m 55 and I didn’t have to take an oath when I graduated HS in 1976. Neither should any high schooler anywhere in the country.

Naturally, this is sponsored by Republicans. They truly are The Stupid Party.

16 Jason 01.31.13 at 5:12 pm

Such is the saying, you can’t spell “CRAZY” without “R-AZ”.

17 David Schwartz 01.31.13 at 6:33 pm

Ron: Your example is not at all like either separate water fountains or public religious oaths. All the key points are different in your example and common to both separate water fountains and public religious oaths. Most importantly, your example is one person’s idiosyncratic reaction to something not meant to be exclusive. Both separate water fountains and religious loyalty oaths are specifically meant to symbolically exclude a disfavored group that has historically been discriminated against.

18 Richard Nieporent 01.31.13 at 10:38 pm

I have rarely seen such fulminating about a proposed bill. I agree that it wrong to attempt to mandate an oath of allegiance. However, students in many schools systems voluntarily say the pledge allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

As you can see, that except for the mandatory part (which as I previously indicated would not survive a court challenge), it is quite similar to the oath, including the “offensive” reference to God. So this is not a new issue. I only wish that you would get as exorcised over the teaching of the religion of environmentalism in the schools. Then I would at least know that you were consistent in your (non) belief.

19 David Schwartz 02.01.13 at 6:07 pm

@Richard: If someone wanted to pass a law that did a lot of harmless things but also mandated government agencies have separate drinking fountains for different races, would you respond that it’s inoffensive except for the separate drinking fountains provision which wouldn’t survive a court challenge anyway?

You and Ron seem to have this “What’s the big deal about separate water fountains? Are the seats in the back of bus less comfortable than those in the front?” mentality. Perhaps you are unaware of the history of discrimination against atheists.

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