A school board in North Dakota has stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings, claiming that the mention of the word “God” runs contrary to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
On Tuesday night, the Fargo, North Dakota, school board voted 7 – 2 to ditch the pledge after board members complained that capitalized “God” was “non-inclusionary.” The school board had previously begun reciting the pledge after it passed a motion on March 22 to start each meeting with it.
“Given that the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized,” board member Seth Holden said. “The text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian god and therefore, it does not include any other face [sic] such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students at FPS.”
Holden claimed that it violated the aforementioned DEI principles.
Schoolboard President Tracie Newman suggested instead that the board find a different pledge to recite to foster unity.
“I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings,” Newman explained. “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.”
The school board’s website states, “Education is better where schools are composed of students, teachers, and families drawn from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, ‘races’/ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations.”
To that extent, board member and immigrant Nyamal Dei stated, “We live in a diverse community and that is what matters,” while supporting the move to end saying the pledge.
One community member, David Paulson, spoke at the meeting in favor of keeping the pledge.
“We are misinterpreting the Pledge of Allegiance,” Paulson explained. “The pledge isn’t a show of our patriotism, it’s an affirmation of our commitment and our loyalty to the greater cause, and that greater cause is freedom.”
In reaction to the story, Ethan Harsell, a candidate for North Dakota’s state legislature, tweeted, “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,” he added.
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