We know it’s hard for students, especially young ones, to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re pressured to stand up and say it. And that’s an ethical problem even if it’s not a legal one.
But surely this is undeniably coercive: A Christian radio station (89.3 KSBJ in Houston, Texas) is going to local public schools “to record classrooms and groups saying the Pledge of Allegiance.” They feature the kids on air and give each one a “KSBJ certificate for showing their patriotism” (because if you don’t say the pledge, you’re not patriotic).
According to a reader who contacted me, there’s a family that doesn’t want their child to be part of one of these events, but their complaints are going nowhere. They spoke with the principal… but the event wasn’t canceled. Right now, their child has the option of participating or facing social isolation by sitting out.
It’s not a position any child should be put in.
There’s a petition online you can sign in defense of those parents and against this coercive practice:
The Christ-based radio station, KSBJ travels around the Houston, TX area to both public and private schools recording and photographing children as part of a program titled “Say The Pledge”. The media they collect is edited, published and includes the logo and promise that “God Listens” when displayed on the station’s website, facebook page and on air segments amongst ONLY religious programming. The DJ wears a uniform with the same logo on it, and uses microphones, equipment and an oversized van where the “God Listens” sentiment is prominently displayed to young, impressionable students from preschool through older elementary grades. This is blatant discrimination against Non-Christians and forces them to opt out, thus causing a young child to feel excluded from their peers, and often times rejected for their religious affiliations. Of course, one must tune into the Christain only programming thereafter. Imagine the outrage the community would display if this activity were included in a non- christian faith such as Muslim, or even Atheist programming displaying a logo about “Allah” or what God is not. Public elementary school is NOT the place to solicit children to appear in religious programming. There are many other avenues for that. This activity is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, and should not be allowed or promoted by the school or district.
FFRF and the American Humanist Association have already sent letters to the district. But right now, the event is still going on as planned.
The petition will be delivered to April Maldonado, the Principal of Eagle Springs Elementary School, and Dr. Guy Sconzo, Superintendent of the Humble Independent School District. If they care about the students in their schools, they’ll cancel this religious event that has no business in the public schools. There’s just no good reason to let it continue. For them to give religious proselytizers access to little kids in their care is a serious abdication of their responsibilities.