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Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Old 06-25-13, 10:12 AM
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Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

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Two state representatives have proposed bills requiring Arizona students to show more respect for their country in a move that is stirring constitutional arguments and a threat of lawsuits.

All public high-school seniors would have to recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution to be able to graduate, under a proposal in House Bill 2467 sponsored by Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff.

And all students in first through 12th grades would have to say the pledge of allegiance each day if House Bill 2284, sponsored by Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, passes.

Under current law, schools must set aside time for the pledge each day, but students may choose whether to participate.

Political insiders say it is too early in the session, which began Jan. 14, to predict where the new Legislature may land on such issues.

While both the House and Senate have more Democrats this year, diluting the power of “tea party” Republicans who promote patriotic issues, the GOP still maintains control of both chambers.

Smith, a self-proclaimed member of the tea party with a history of sponsoring anti-illegal-immigration measures, said he introduced the legislation in response to a Maricopa high-school student who last year reported feeling mocked and embarrassed after she was the only one in her class to stand and say the pledge.

“Is this bill going to move heaven and Earth? No,” Smith said. “But it’s important that our kids do this.”

Since filing his bill, Thorpe is having second thoughts about the reach of his proposal and concerns about reaction from students, and says he is planning to amend his oath bill to make it optional and not mandatory.

“Since developing this idea, it has continued to evolve,” the freshman lawmaker said via e-mail. “In that we had a tight deadline for dropping our bills, I was not able to update the language.”

He said his decision to amend the bill is not due to any concerns about its legality.

“Even though I want to encourage all of our students to understand and respect our Constitution and constitutional form of government, I do not want to create a requirement that students or parents may feel uncomfortable with,” he said. “Being a father of two, I also realistically understand that some students will embrace this more than others.”

But he said he continues to support the underlying idea.

“Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military,” he said.

“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”

Both bills, if they were to become law in their current form, would face legal challenges.

“Both bills are clearly unconstitutional, ironically enough,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham. “You can’t require students to attend school ... and then require them to either pledge allegiance to the flag or swear this loyalty oath in order to graduate. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.”

If the Legislature passes the bills and Gov. Jan Brewer signs them into law, Abraham predicts the courts will overturn the laws. She said there is legal case precedent that clearly deems such acts unconstitutional.

“It’s a waste of time and resources for the taxpayers,” she said.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, called the bills “ridiculous.”

“These legislators who believe they are teaching the Constitution to students are not following the Constitution themselves when they introduce bills that are unconstitutional,” he said.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why they would want to require this. The first article I read didn't include the quotes from the sponsors, and it sounds like they are backing off the "required" part of this - but my goodness, don't they have more important things to do than pass laws they know are going to get overturned?
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Old 06-25-13, 10:17 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

American politics are a show. Some carnival barkers aka elected officials are better at drawing people into the tent than others.

Reason, efficiency, and logic rarely play a part in the show.
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Old 06-25-13, 10:19 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Smith, a self-proclaimed member of the tea party with a history of sponsoring anti-illegal-immigration measures, said he introduced the legislation in response to a Maricopa high-school student who last year reported feeling mocked and embarrassed after she was the only one in her class to stand and say the pledge.
What the what? I thought it was only liberals who liked to pass laws when somebody's feelings got hurt.
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Old 06-25-13, 10:54 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

after she was the only one in her class to stand and say the pledge
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who obstaine give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
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Old 06-25-13, 11:22 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

All public high-school seniors would have to recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution
I'd rather them be able to spell Constitution and name 3 federal enumerated powers and 3 rights within it.
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Old 06-25-13, 11:26 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who obstaine give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
She's probably lying about being the only one to recite it, but plenty of people abstain now for various reasons. Anti-war, anti-"under God", etc.
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Old 06-25-13, 11:37 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who obstaine give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
Did you look around the room every time you were reciting it to make sure everyone was saying it too?
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Old 06-25-13, 11:39 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
She's probably lying about being the only one to recite it, but plenty of people abstain now for various reasons. Anti-war, anti-"under God", etc.
Some people may not say the "under god" part.
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Old 06-25-13, 12:57 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Would "By God, I'm outta here" count?
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Old 06-25-13, 01:18 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who obstaine give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
Not sure why a whole class wouldn't, but I went to middle school with a Jehovah's witness who would refuse to pledge. And I've known others that would stand and not do the whole hand on their heart thing.

Not that big of a deal.
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Old 06-25-13, 01:20 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

FWIW, I'm an AZ resident.

I found these comments by Thorpe interesting...

“Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military,” he said."

There are reasons for those. It's a part of your job to honor, uphold and obey the laws that govern YOU as an elected official. Too bad the electorate can't really hold any of elected accountable for giving lip service.

“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”

We might be better off if our educational system worked to teach them about the Constitution and national history, rather than hoping they will be "inspired" to "learn" it on their own. Maybe our schools would actually function to educate if they focused on that instead of instruction on how to pass test.

"No child left behind", my ass. Of course, no child is being left behind... on the road to ignorance, the avenue of non-critical thinking, and the highway of blind acceptance.

I think what I just posted in the New Zealand Bans Weird Baby Names thread is just as applicable here, so I'll repost it here.

If there is anything that proves "august" legislative bodies have way too much time (and authority) on their hands, it is this kind of activity.

I mean, really? Is there anywhere in the world where there are not enough truly pressing, serious, life and death issues for politicians to deal with... that those wouldn't take precedent over this sort of mindless triviality?
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Old 06-25-13, 02:01 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who abstain give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
Once I learned that it wasn't required, I stopped standing. I didn't need to do some creepy oath of loyalty ritual to demonstrate my allegiance to the country.
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Old 06-25-13, 03:39 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
She's probably lying about being the only one to recite it, but plenty of people abstain now for various reasons. Anti-war, anti-"under God", etc.
Sorry, I've never been much for abstinence
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Old 06-25-13, 03:43 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

This is pretty clearly a politics thread, so moving to Politics forum.
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Old 06-25-13, 03:46 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Jon2 View Post
If there is anything that proves "august" legislative bodies have way too much time (and authority) on their hands, it is this kind of activity.

I mean, really? Is there anywhere in the world where there are not enough truly pressing, serious, life and death issues for politicians to deal with... that those wouldn't take precedent over this sort of mindless triviality?
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Old 06-25-13, 03:52 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Jon2 View Post
FWIW, I'm an AZ resident.

I found these comments by Thorpe interesting...

“Constitutional oaths are common for elected officials and government employees, including the governor, the Legislature and members of our law enforcement and our military,” he said."

There are reasons for those. It's a part of your job to honor, uphold and obey the laws that govern YOU as an elected official. Too bad the electorate can't really hold any of elected accountable for giving lip service.

“It is my hope that if Arizona students are given the opportunity to also take a simple, Constitutional oath, that this will inspire them to learn more about our Constitutional form of government and the rich history of our nation and founding.”

We might be better off if our educational system worked to teach them about the Constitution and national history, rather than hoping they will be "inspired" to "learn" it on their own. Maybe our schools would actually function to educate if they focused on that instead of instruction on how to pass test.

"No child left behind", my ass. Of course, no child is being left behind... on the road to ignorance, the avenue of non-critical thinking, and the highway of blind acceptance.

I think what I just posted in the New Zealand Bans Weird Baby Names thread is just as applicable here, so I'll repost it here.

If there is anything that proves "august" legislative bodies have way too much time (and authority) on their hands, it is this kind of activity.

I mean, really? Is there anywhere in the world where there are not enough truly pressing, serious, life and death issues for politicians to deal with... that those wouldn't take precedent over this sort of mindless triviality?
Could not agree more .. why waste any time on this sort of crap ... that will end up costing some money for just proposing it to God knows how much if this were to pass and all the lawsuits that would come and be successful

If someone wants to pledge their allegiance to God or Darth Vader ... they can feel free to do so in their own mind at any point in time they want. That is all that really counts.
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Old 06-25-13, 04:13 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
I've never known a single person who obstains from the pledge of allegiance. What reasons do those who obstaine give? Why would a whole class obstaine?
I know that the pledge and the national anthem aren't exactly the same thing, but does anybody remember Chris Jackson a.k.a. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets? He was suspended because he wouldn't stand up for the national anthem, but a compromise was worked out where he had to stand, but could protest American tyranny by closing his eyes instead.

As to the pledge of allegiance, or any similar "oath" ... I think it's far more intrusive to ask someone to say it once than to ask them to say it every day. Everyday, it becomes routine and the words lose meaning. Once, and you might actually think about what you're saying.
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Old 06-25-13, 04:21 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
Did you look around the room every time you were reciting it to make sure everyone was saying it too?
If you did, you might find some struggling to say it without forgetting parts.
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Old 06-25-13, 04:29 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Also, is it really an oath to God?

If I say "I, _________, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THESE DUTIES."

instead of

"I, _________, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THESE DUTIES; SO HELP ME GOD. "

am I really getting an F?

likewise if someone says "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." instead of "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." are they going to get in trouble?
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Old 06-25-13, 04:29 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

No one seems to have noticed the irony of the ACLU having no problems with compulsory school attendance in which students are forced to sit through an imposed curriculum. Even home-schooled students must follow a state-sanctioned curriculum and usually must take state-sanctioned proficiency tests in order to be able to stay home.

I agree that with the idea that the government shouldn't be forcing loyalty oaths upon students as a requirement to graduate; however, it seems that people don't have problems with requiring students to be indoctrinated in other ideas "for their own good". If one accepts the thought that teaching about astract ideas such as bullying, tolerance, acceptance are okay, then why not patriotism? Of course, I don't think anyone has (yet) proposed that students must take a vow of tolerance in order to obtain a diploma, so it's two different things.
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Old 06-25-13, 04:53 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Are the topics of bullying, tolerance, and acceptance actually on the state curriculum anywhere? I'm asking not to be glib, but because this is the first I've heard of it.
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Old 06-25-13, 05:47 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post
No one seems to have noticed the irony of the ACLU having no problems with compulsory school attendance in which students are forced to sit through an imposed curriculum. Even home-schooled students must follow a state-sanctioned curriculum and usually must take state-sanctioned proficiency tests in order to be able to stay home.

I agree that with the idea that the government shouldn't be forcing loyalty oaths upon students as a requirement to graduate; however, it seems that people don't have problems with requiring students to be indoctrinated in other ideas "for their own good". If one accepts the thought that teaching about astract ideas such as bullying, tolerance, acceptance are okay, then why not patriotism? Of course, I don't think anyone has (yet) proposed that students must take a vow of tolerance in order to obtain a diploma, so it's two different things.


Then why bring it up?
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Old 06-25-13, 08:27 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
What the what? I thought it was only liberals who liked to pass laws when somebody's feelings got hurt.
I've wondered why, if these guys hate the government so much, they want it to promote their religion.
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Old 06-25-13, 09:02 PM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post
If one accepts the thought that teaching about astract ideas such as bullying, tolerance, acceptance are okay, then why not patriotism?
One directly involves how a student interacts with other students. The other involves forcing everyone to make an oath to God.

So...apples to aircraft carriers.
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Old 06-26-13, 01:12 AM
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Re: Arizona Repubs want students to take an oath to God to graduate

Originally Posted by Draven View Post
One directly involves how a student interacts with other students. The other involves forcing everyone to make an oath to God.

So...apples to aircraft carriers.
Which is exactly what I said (..."two different things.")

I thought the argument was about forcing students to say the pledge of allegiance or forcing them to pledge their loyalty to the United States, not the part about "oath to God".

My argument was that, if one can try to instill what is generally accepted as "positive values", then couldn't one argue that attempting to instill what a majority of the populace regard as "positive values" (patriotism, loyalty to country) would be a good thing...and that some might think that requiring a public commitment to those values to be acceptable?

And instilling patriotic and religious values that encourage personal sacrifice and a caring attitude toward fellow human beings might be construed as "involving how a student interacts with other students" by some. To others, it's indoctrination...just as some elements of "values education" are currently regarded by some. As the saying goes, it's not about whether values will be imposed...it's a matter of WHOSE values.

As I said, I don't think that you can 'force' such values upon others and oppose the proposed legislation (which would be found unconstitutional anyway), but the government certainly reserves the right to make the attempt (compulsory school attendance, draft laws, etc.). You may have reluctant students or soldiers who don't agree with your ideas about education & loyalty, but you sure can control their physical presence and participation in approved activities.
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