A school board in North Dakota voted on Tuesday to cancel the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before each of its meetings because the phrase “under God” does not represent all faiths and is in violation of their “equity inclusion” clause.
In a 7-2 vote, the Fargo School Board decided to nix the Pledge from its meetings after voting in spring to keep it. Following elections that resulted in the addition of four new board members, Vice President Seth Holden revisited the matter, according to fellow board member, Robin Nelson.
Because it fails to represent all religions and doesn’t acknowledge atheists and those who may be agnostic, Holden argued the pledge had to go, Nelson told the Daily Mail.
Speaking to Inforum, Holden claimed the capitalization of the word “God” in the Pledge means it only refers to the “Judeo-Christian God, and therefore, it does not include any other faith such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students.”
Capture of Fargo School Board member Kneeling during Pledge at june meeting pic.twitter.com/y226efZkpk
— Harrison Krank (@HarrisonKrank) August 10, 2022
Nelson and fellow board member Nikkie Gullickson voted to keep the Pledge at the start of their bi-weekly meetings.
“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.”
According to Nelson, who says the Fargo School District is comprised mostly of Christian faiths, the rekindled Pledge debate is nothing but a “distraction from other board issues,” such as mental health and recruiting more teachers.
Former board member David Paulson says his former colleagues, by focusing on religion and not freedom, are “misinterpreting” the Pledge.
“The Pledge isn’t a show of our patriotism,” he said, “it’s an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom.”
With the new vote, Fargo is now the only school district in the area to not recite the Pledge of Allegiance, Nelson said.
But School Board President Tracie Newman believes there may be a better way to open the meetings.
“I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings,” she said. “I 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.”
In protest of the vote, country music duo Big & Rich led their entire audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“Take that, Commie School Board!” the group exclaimed. “I hope some real mamas and daddies and aunts and uncles and grandpas and grandmas step up and start taking over those local spaces of leadership. Take it away from them. They got no business up in this town.”
.@bigandrich in #WestFargo has the audience say The Pledge of Allegiance together and then calls out #Fargo school board by calling them a “commie school board” for stopping the Pledge. pic.twitter.com/QvmE3fotCT
— Chris Berg (@chrisbergpov) August 12, 2022
Republican state Congressional candidate Ethan Harsell called the move “disgusting.”
“The Fargo School Board’s decision is an insult to the values of our Great Country and to everyone who has given their life to defend our liberties,” he tweeted. “The School Board’s assertion that the Pledge of Allegiance violates their so-called ‘diversity rule’ is absurd.”
Disgusting. The Fargo School Board's decision is an insult to the values of our Great Country and to everyone who has given their life to defend our liberties. The School Board's assertion that the Pledge of Allegiance violates their so-called “diversity rule” is absurd. https://t.co/ddBXCvnuKD
— Ethan Harsell (@ethan_harsell) August 11, 2022
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