Atheist Group Asks Everyone To Sit Out The Pledge of Allegiance

Sep 9, 2014

By American Humanist Association


On Monday, the American Humanist Association launched a national campaign to encourage people to sit out the Pledge of Allegiance until the phrase “under God” is removed from it.

The campaign includes YouTube video ads, as well as bus stop advertisements placed in New York City and Washington, D.C. Ads will direct viewers to a website,, which provides information about the history of the Pledge, including that “under God” was not added until 1954, during the McCarthy era, and that a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on West Virginia v. Barnette gives students the right to opt out of saying the Pledge. The website also provides resources for parents to discuss the Pledge with their children, as well as a way for students to report harassment or bullying they might have experienced for exercising their right to remain seated during the Pledge.

“We want everyone to know that the current wording of the Pledge discriminates against atheists and others who are good without a god, and we want them to stand up for fairness by sitting down until the Pledge is restored to its original, unifying form,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

15 comments on “Atheist Group Asks Everyone To Sit Out The Pledge of Allegiance

  • 1
    justasec says:

    It might also be helpful — from the educational perspective — to give examples of the “others” (other than non-religious) discriminated against. Hardly any Americans have anything more than a vague awareness that many religious Americans are not either Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.

    Ask folks if “…one nation, under Vishnu, indivisible…” would cut it!

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  • Not being American either @ Philosctetes, I always found it a little over-the -top as well. We have no need for such a daily pledge and I suspect we’re not alone. I do remember saying ” I honour my god, I serve my Queen and salute the flag ” when I was a girl, but those days are long gone. Those were the days when we used to curtsy to the headmistress. I kid you not!!
    So I’m with the humanists. Get rid of the pledge; it’s an anachronism!

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  • I will never understand why Christians swear oaths, to the Country or in a court of secular laws.
    The supposed Jeebus of Nazareth was never cool with oaths, and said so in a wonderfully unambiguous way:

    Matthew 5:33-37 New King James Version
    “Again you have heard that it
    was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall
    perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at
    all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth,
    for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the
    great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot
    make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your
    ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

    Do these folks even bother to read their own books?

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  • Do these folks even bother to read their own books?

    Nice work BigPencil. I’d like to take that to the Supreme Court as an argument to remove the “Christians” only pledge clause. Hey Christians, your spokesperson doesn’t want the Pledge of Allegiance to reference him.

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  • I guess it’s because Americans have no shared roots. All of them are immigrants or the offspring of immigrants who have come there during the last five hundred hundred years. They are from different backgrounds and cultures so they don’t feel a shared American spirit. Because of that they have to enforce the display of patriotism in the form of pledges, flying the American flag everywhere, singing the national anthem and so forth. By doing that they hope that a a national feeling of unity will be created. Other much more homogeneous countries do not need to do that because they already feel united by their shared background. In fact, in many of these homogeneous countries the overt display of love and commitment for your country in the way Americans do it is considered creepy, as you said, and people engaging in it are suspected of being fascists.

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  • “under God” was not added until 1954, during the McCarthy era

    Just been to see a great production of Arthur Miller’s “Crucible”. Now that should be compulsive viewing as to how fanaticism spirals into madness.

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  • ajw.
    I agree that this excellent play by Arthur Miller should be manditory viewing or reading by all as it provides us with a window of understanding into the thinking of the McCarthy era; and, there’s so much more! The way that groupthink takes over, and otherwise rational humans get swept up in the delusion. The way that petty jealousies can escalate and lead to so much damage.
    I remember being stunned after my first reading. I’ve seen the film but I’ve never seen the play on a stage, more’s the pity. Lucky you!

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  • Badges of Goodness (of our good character) are more needed in less equal societies where suspicion of the potentially exploitative other is more prevalent. Formal shows of loyalty and a moral-validating faith abound. Haidt might observe this as the product a right wing moral driver.

    Or is there some other reason the US needs these things?

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  • Another not-American here.
    I was a tiny bit freaked out in the 1990s when an American child told me that they had to stand up in class at the beginning of the school day, put one hand on their chests and say those words. It really does seem like something that fascists, communists or theocratic leaders would want their kids to do.
    But I loved the late Robin Williams’s outlook on the pledge.
    Many years ago he expressed a view about his country that showed he had a good grasp of geography and that he understood how dangerous patriotism can be.
    In a TV interview he said his fellow citizens might have a different outlook on the world if the offending line were changed to this:
    ” … one nation. Under Canada.”

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  • A good move forward, but realistically this country really needs to examine the absurdity of having children under the age of 18, taking an oath of allegiance when they aren’t even old enough to sign a contract much-less enter an oral contract. Either with or without ‘under god’ the pledge (for kids) is little more than indoctrinating blather.

    An adult can enter an oral contract, but not a child. Ditch the ‘under god’ nonsense in the pledge and better yet; just eliminate this pointless forced pledge in our classrooms as well.

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