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MADLAND: A group blog about life in Madison, Wisconsin
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Madland: Yet another Pledge of Allegiance nontroversy

I love a good Pledge of Allegiance scandal (because I so miss the 1980s), but it looks like the conservative bloggers missed when they insinuated that those godless liberals at Madison East High School had altered the Pledge of Allegiance.

A week ago, a 16-year-old from Appleton wrote on RedState:

Just last month, Samantha Murphy, a brave high school junior at Madison East High School, emailed me. In her freshman year, Madison East did not offer the Pledge every morning. Her family decided to talk to the principal and school board, reminding them that it is a state law to offer the Pledge every day...

After months of waiting and deciding if her family should go public with her school district's unlawfulness and lack of patriotism, her school board finally obliged and started to offer the Pledge of Allegiance daily.

Samantha told me: "this went on without issue from around January of 2013 until March 4th, 2014." On March 4th, Samantha says her school began to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, and added that they thought they were "above the law." On the first day of revision, they took out the entire line "one nation under God." The next day, they merely skipped the words "under God." On the third day, Thursday March 6th, 2014, they replaced the word "God" with "peace."

Other conservative bloggers and publications followed suit, trying to make this claim into a scandal. However, Madison school district spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson told the Cap Times what happened at East was the case of students "misreading" the Pledge.

Anyway, I've heard this firsthand from two East High School freshmen (who wish to remain anonymous): "No one listens to that [daily announcement of the Pledge]."

Well, does anyone actually recite the Pledge? No, not that they know of.

So why does it matter whether it's God or peace? Neither one was in the original Pledge of Allegiance, first published in 1892. The words "under God" were added in the '50s at the height of the Cold War -- a mere decade after what is known as the Bellamy salute was eliminated from the ritual of reciting the Pledge for obvious reasons (as noted by the American Legion).

The East students I talked to couldn't be distracted from homework any longer -- and this nontroversy did not interest them. But one of my anonymous sources had this to offer: "It's not about patriotism; it's about religion."

And here I thought public schools were supposed to be separate from religion. Given that Wisconsin is now sending public tax dollars to private religious schools, separation of church and state is a legitimate concern.

But I don't have time for that. Now I'll be up at night worrying that my anonymous sources are standing in school, hands over their hearts, pledging to "one nation under peace" -- and that sounds pretty ridiculous.

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