The purpose of Our Conscience weblog is to facilitate a greater discussion and understanding of church and state separation in our community and in others. Underlying this is the value that each individual should be allowed to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience without influence, coercion, or direction from the State when it comes to matters of religion.

Monday, December 20, 2004

AP: Student's objections over pledge sparks change

Our Conscience

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. -- A middle school student's objection to standing during the Pledge of Allegiance is sparking change in Spotsylvania County's schools.

At the start of each school day, all students stand facing the flag with their right hands over their hearts during the pledge. Students can choose not to recite the pledge if they or their parents object on religious, philosophical or other grounds, which is consistent with state law.

But Virginia also allows students to quietly and respectfully sit at their desks while others stand and say the pledge. Spotsylvania's policy says nothing about letting students sit during the pledge.

A seventh-grader at Ni River Middle School objected to the requirement that he stand during the pledge, contending it violated his freedom of speech, Principal Stephen Covert said. Covert said the student's complaint occurred several weeks ago. He said the boy has been allowed to sit during the pledge.

The School Board's attorney advised Superintendent Jerry Hill that Spotsylvania's policy violates state law because it doesn't allow students to sit through the pledge.


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