A New York public high school student turned to the American Humanist Association for guidance after a teacher threatened punishment if she did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance during class.
The student, who attends high school in the Elmira City School District, objected to the use of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. According to the Blaze, the Appigani Humanist Legal Center (attorneys for the American Humanist Association) penned a letter to the district requesting a response to the teacher’s actions.
A portion of the letter states the following:
"The student in question, currently a sophomore, is an atheist and does not wish to participate in the Pledge exercise in any manner, because she objects to the 'under God' language and feels that any level of participation in the exercise validates that affirmation. As such, she has attempted to simply sit at her desk during the exercise in an undisruptive manner. When she has done this, however, she has been instructed by her teacher to stand, at the risk of disciplinary or retaliatory measures if she refuses to do so. Moreover, in front of her classmates, this student has been told by her teacher that failure to stand for the Pledge is disrespectful to America and to military personnel in particular, and thus her patriotism and national loyalty have been publicly called into question."
The letter, which was signed by Monica Miller, goes on to explain that the girl’s patriotism should not be questioned simply because she’s exercising her constitutional right to not participate in the recital. The legal team requested a response within 21 days from the school, which has yet to comment on the teacher’s actions.
The issue of reciting the pledge of allegiance in American schools has been divisive throughout recent years, especially as concerns grow regarding the use of the phrase “under God” and its exclusion of non-monotheistic religions or atheists.