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A Wisconsin county supervisor wants to eliminate the Pledge of Allegiance from county board meetings, claiming the recitation is ‘divisive.’
Heidi Wegleitner has proposed removing the pledge as well as the word ‘prayer’ from the board rules, which are currently undergoing a biannual redraft.
The board’s executive committee will consider Wegleitner’s proposal at a meeting Thursday, although newly elected supervisors would have the final say following the April 5 election.
Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner (left and right) has proposed removing the Pledge of Allegiance and the word ‘prayer’ from county board meetings, having deemed them ‘divisive’
HISTORY OF ‘PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.
In its original form it read: ‘I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’
In 1923, the words, ‘the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read: ‘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.’
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words ‘under God,’ creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads: ‘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.’
‘It just doesn’t feel like it’s appropriate for us to be doing, when in a pluralistic society we want to be inclusive and representative,’ Wegleitner told Madison.com. ‘At the end of the day, I think it’s divisive.’
Wegleitner said she looked into which area governmental bodies recite the pledge at the start of meetings and found an inconsistency to whether it was done, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Municipalities that do not have the pledge on their agendas include Madison and Waunakee, she said. Other municipalities, such as Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and Verona, do include it, according to those cities’ agendas.
Wegleitner drew parallels between refusing to say the pledge to professional athletes taking the knee during the national anthem.
‘There’s other ways to show community and shared values,’ Wegleitner said.
The first version of the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a socialist minister.
In 1954, the US Congress revised the pledge to add the words ‘under God’ at the urging of President Dwight Eisenhower.
Board member Tim Rockwel argued that the option to pray at the start of meetings makes the board more inclusive and diverse, noting that more than 45 percent of Dane County is religious.
‘This is all in the same city that is home to the Freedom From Religion Foundation,’ Rockwell said, adding that the county’s religious diversity should be ‘celebrated and not squashed.’
Wegleitner, a married mother-of-one, has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2012. Her current term ends in April and she is running for re-election next month.
Before seeking public office, Wegleitner worked as a public interest attorney representing low income tenants in eviction cases.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a socialist minister
Source: Daily Mail