U S Supreme Court 1943

I was recently made aware of the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943:

The statement made was :

This is from the majority decision by the Supreme Court, in 1943, when they ruled that the states could no longer compel children in public schools to recite the pledge of allegiance. I wonder how many people have actually ever read and thought about this, rather than just whining about it no longer being done?

“Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest. Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions. These laws must, to be consistent with the First Amendment, permit the widest toleration of conflicting viewpoints consistent with a society of free men.

Neither our domestic tranquillity in peace nor our martial effort in war depend on compelling little children to participate in a ceremony which ends in nothing for them but a fear of spiritual condemnation. If, as we think, their fears are groundless, time and reason are the proper antidotes for their errors. The ceremonial, when enforced against conscientious objectors, more likely to defeat than to serve its high purpose, IS A HANDY IMPLEMENT FOR DISGUISED RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. As such, it is inconsistent with our Constitution’s plan and purpose.”

I find the whole thing fascinating……. Why do so many members of the American Electorate appear intent on destroying the ( spirit of the ) Constitution and its various amendments?

To make things worse, under Eisenhower,the phrase “under God” was added on 14 June 1954. In effect flouting the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It seems to me that the use of that one phrase establishes the existence of  at the least(a form of) mono-theism as the religion of the USA.

But what I find most disturbing, as I do in my own country, is the thrusting down the throats of young children of something which they cannot be expected by any reasonable adult to understand.

I have lost count of the number of versions of the “Give me a child until the age of seven…” quotation that I have heard but the first that I remember goes thus:”T he Jesuits say, ‘Give me a child until he is seven and he is mine for life’ ” This came from our school Chaplin…and Anglican Priest.

I am told that modern science supports this claim, however it is put into words….. I just need to find the science. Certainly it seems that belief in this adage has given rise to the (to me )horrendous attempts to impose a curriculum on parents and child minders by the Government of the UK. Notably a Labour Government.  But in the US this sort of thinking belongs to the Christian Right it would seem…


4 Responses to “U S Supreme Court 1943”

  1. Karen Orr Says:

    I’ve heard members of the Christian right, in the US, refer to public schools as institutions of secular and humanist indoctrination. They seem to think that someone will indoctrinate their child, and they want it to be them. That’s why home schooling is more prevalent among Christian conservatives in the US, than any other group.

    When I was in grade school, in the 1960s, the pledge was no longer mandatory, but we still recited it each morning. The children who did not participate, opted out for religious reasons. I believe their church was Jehovah’s Witness. The perception that making it not mandatory was ensuring “freedom” is interesting. I remember how the kids who didn’t participate were treated, and I hope I understand how they felt. Coercion doesn’t just mean that something is mandatory. It means peer pressure, too.

  2. magpie11 Says:

    Yes, we hear them over this side of “the pond”…..

    I would give odds that that peer pressure was inspired by parents, preachers and, although it hurts to say so, teachers. Of course teacher influence could be very subtle.

    This is reason I always refused to make any comment to children on my own political or religious belief in my time as a teacher. It led to some interesting rumours among parents… apparently I was going to become a Muslim on more than one occasion.

  3. Maria from Silver Fox Says:

    You are so right about children and the words to the Pledge. Each year, teachers talk about the meaning of the pledge at the beginning of the fall term.

    I often asked my fourth graders to write the words. There were so many misses, it was embarassing. However, my favorite misunderstanding was “one naked individual” instead of “one nation indivisible”. I guess in many ways, I have felt exactly like the “one naked individual” when confronted by the Religious Right and the Zealots.

    • magpie11 Says:

      Hello Maria,
      Good to hear from you.

      A lovely howler…. beats “Thou shalt not kick a duckery” for the 7th Commandment.

      I love Ramona’s idea of the Dawnser song…..

      James Clavell’s “The Children’s Story” Really shook me when I read it a few years into my teaching career. I pointed up just how much power I had as a teacher and yet my colleagues who read it dismissed it out of hand.

      Have just remembered the welcome speech by our College Principal, James Smeal, at the beginning of my training. “(As trainee teachers) you are potentially the most influential body of students in the country.” (perhaps he should have added that he included all other trainee teachers).

      This whole matter is complex. The 1960s in Britain saw the beginnings of the (socialist?) authoritarian project to have the state replace family as the major influence on children’s upbringing. It continues apace……

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