The St. Louis Park City Council decided in a unanimous vote on June 17 to skip a formal recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Councilmember Rachel Harris notably explained that a government-imposed pledge with the words “under God” violates the principle of state/church separation.
FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne wrote to the council commending its decision to respect the diversity of its community by keeping it free from religious promotion and urged the body to stand by the decision despite backlash from some community members.
“It is ironic that protesters in the audience — purportedly standing up for American patriotism — jeered and booed the cite to the U.S. Constitution,” Jayne writes to Mayor Jake Spano. “This irony is lost on them, of course, but it emphasizes the hollowness of their false patriotism. True patriotism is defending American ideals, including the First Amendment’s guarantee of a secular government, not worshipping a flag or chanting ‘USA!’”
The original 1892 version of the Pledge of Allegiance did not include any religious language, FFRF’s letter points out. The pledge was codified into law 50 years later, in 1942, but the religious phrase “under God” was not inserted until 1954 as a product of the McCarthy-era “red scare.”
“The false patriots who are upset about omitting the pledge need to be reminded that their elected officials swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not to perpetuate fundamentally un-American traditions from the 1950s,” Jayne added.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor comments, “As Christian nationalists continue to inject state legislatures and local councils across the country with religious rituals and practices, it is reassuring to see representatives taking their commitment to church/state separation seriously.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members and two chapters in Minnesota. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.