Fargo, North Dakota’s school board voted Tuesday to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of meetings because it is “non-inclusionary” and “not true.”
Board vice president Seth Holden motioned to axe the pledge, saying it was inconsistent with the district’s “philosophy.” Holden said the pledge “violates board policy” because “there is text within the Pledge of Allegiance which is simply not true.” He argued during the Tuesday board meeting that because multiple religions are practiced within the United States, the country can’t be “one nation under God.” Holden also said it is an “indisputable fact” that “not all U.S. citizens have liberty and justice.” According to Holden, reciting the pledge violates district policy that “school board members should be honest.”
In recent years, school boards across the country have become increasingly critical of the United States and patriotic gestures, as well as more open to progressive conceptions of gender and sexuality. Minneapolis Public Schools, for instance, plans to pour millions into incorporating “ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity” in math curriculums designed for K-5 students. School districts in Maryland and Virginia, meanwhile, have opted to hide information from parents regarding their children’s gender identity.
Holden also argued the phrase “under God” is “non-inclusionary,” as it only applies to Christian and Jewish students. He cited the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion statement to support this argument.
Most of the board members agreed with Holden. Members called the pledge “divisive” and a “distraction,” with one suggesting it be replaced with a “shared statement of purpose.” Another said that reciting the pledge doesn’t contribute to “student achievement.”
Robin Nelson, the only board member to voice opposition to removing the pledge, pointed out that people who did not want to stand for the pledge were not being forced to.
“Please give me the opportunity to stand up at the beginning of meetings and say the Pledge of Allegiance,” she said. “I would respectfully ask that you just don’t participate but don’t deny me that right.”