Members of the Fargo, N.D. school board have showed their open hostility toward religion by asserting that the Pledge of Allegiance is against their “diversity code” and by voting to banish it from their meetings.
The 7-2 vote came after a motion to recite the Pledge at the start of meetings, which was passed. After that vote, apparently, members of the board thought about it and realized they were offended. “Concerns over divisiveness” gave way to “lengthy debate,” according to members’ statements to Inforum.
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Board member Seth Holden said the words “under God” were his problem, and that since “God” is capitalized it is referring specifically to “the Judeo-Christian god” and not to “Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students at FPS.”
Atheists and agnostics should also be offended, Holden said, because they are not allowed for by the Pledge.
And Holden wasn’t finished. “Not every single person in this country has liberty and justice,” he boldly declared, referring perhaps to people who commit crimes against others.
“We live in a diverse community and that is what matters,” said another board member, Nyamal Dei, as if the way to unite people is by emphasizing their differences rather than their common ideals and goals for their children.
The proposal to recite the Pledge at the beginning of meetings came from former school board member David Paulson, who spoke before the school board in defense of the tradition.
“The pledge isn’t a show of our patriotism,” Paulson said. “It’s an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom.”
Playing her idea of a leadership role, School Board President Tracie Newman said the Pledge is a “divisive issue” but that she has “no strong feelings either way. … I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings.”
Newman said she “would much prefer that we open our meetings with a shared statement of purpose that would bring us all together to do the work of the board.”
Now the board just might have something to work on for the rest of the year.