Social Question

starshine's avatar

What do you think of the issue with the comma in the pledge of allegiance?

Asked by starshine (576points) March 20th, 2010

I’m not sure if this is going on everywhere, but in AK in the last year or so the legistlature has made it so that when you recite the Pledge of Allegiance (US), you have to say “one nation under God” in one breath, instead of “one nation, under God.” they say this is because there is no comma there and that is how it is supposed to be recited. i find this very irritating, why not just add the comma? or better yet, not even bother with it? Has this been an issue in your area? What do you think of it?

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39 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

I thought if you didn’t believe in god that the comma enabled you to still say “one nation” much for the separation of church and state.

janbb's avatar

I have more serious problems with that phrase than a comma.

Trillian's avatar

OMG. Life is too short.

ratboy's avatar

The comma was purged during the cold war—it was considered too great a concession to the commanists.

Trillian's avatar

@ratboy I shoulda seen that comman.

ragingloli's avatar

I would have an issue with the pledge being recited in school every day. Pure, nationalist indoctrination.
If they tried that in Germany there would be righteous riots in the streets.

Arisztid's avatar

I could not care less about the comma. Now, that “one nation under God” thing bothers me.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Not an issue here – also that line was added when we were trying to distinguish ourselves from “those godless communists” which isn’t really relevant today… The line should be removed.

YoH's avatar

Since reciting the pledge takes less than 15 seconds,I have no issue with the comma..

thriftymaid's avatar

The legislature up there must not be very busy.

Rarebear's avatar

I’ve never given it an even a nanosecond of thought before this. To me the issue isn’t the comma, but it’s the issue of saying, “under God”. Even when I was in middle school I refused to say the Pledge because of that.

starshine's avatar

@thriftymaid…they also had a proposition to change groundhog day to marmot day because we have no groundhogs here…so basically, they’re SUPER busy. note the sarcasm.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

When is the Pledge legally required to be recited, anyway? Since I can’t imagine a time when I’ll be required to recite it (to recite it correctly, anyway, since I’ve omitted the “under God” phrasing since grade school—even when I was an altar boy, and no one has noticed or cared), then it’s another non-issue for me to roll my eyes at.

Heretofore I have always saluted the flag—and said (most of) the Pledge out of respect for what it symbolizes. If this kind of idiocy continues, though, and if loyalty oaths, an anti-flag-burning amendment and a “you must say the Pledge our way” movement ever passes into law (not that I’m itching to burn any American flags), then the second and third things that I burn (after a flag), will be copies of the Constitution… and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m old enough to remember when it was added. I learned to say it in school without the phrase “under God.” The addition was greeted with rejoicing among the people that I knew in Eisenhower’s postwar America. Even as a youngster, though, I did not see what was missing without it. And I don’t think we would lose anything if it were gone.

As for the comma, it’s punctuation, not a breathing symbol. Before the addition, we used to recite it thus: ”... one nation <pause> indivisible, <pause> ...” and there’s no comma after “nation” either. The new phrase just became another stop in a series of short phrases marked off with pauses.

We don’t say “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America” all in one breath either, despite absence of commas. When you chant or recite a litany, pauses are dictated by convention and by the necessity of breathing.

CMaz's avatar

I’m in a coma.

Zaku's avatar

I’m highly offended and dispirited by how many citizens of the so-called land of the free, think there’s some obligation to pledge allegiance to anything, let alone in a particular way.

Rarebear's avatar

@Zaku You are not required to say it. I quit saying it when I was 10.

ragingloli's avatar

@Rarebear It is called peer pressure, an “everyone else does it, so must do it too” effect that is quite strong, especially among children.
You may not be officially required to do it, but you sure are bullied into doing it.

Rarebear's avatar

@ragingloli I wasn’t. I never felt bullied—never once. When I decided not to say it I just didn’t and nobody ever said anything to me.

ragingloli's avatar

Maybe not you (slightly sociopathic, eh :P), but a lot of kids succumb to it. It is the reason why so many kids start smoking/drinking/doing other drugs. Because their friends do it. I even almost succumbed to it myself when I let my friends persuade me to smoke a cigarette. Luckily the second cig caused pain in my throat so I stopped it. If it were not for that pain, I would almost certainly be a smoker today.

Rarebear's avatar

Not sociopathic, just always a little iconoclastic. But I’ve always have been resistant to peer pressure.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I hate to do this but @ragingloli is right about the bullying in many locations. In fact I am from a small town where they told us (in high school mind you, not to mention lower grades) that it was required. When I refused not only did I get crap from my peers (which really affected me very little) but I had teachers and one of the school counselors come to me and tell me that I must stand at least for it. Of course I was brilliant enough to know my rights and told her so but it wasn’t without a scene which for many adolescents and younger can be very harmful to their self-esteem.

Seek's avatar

I couldn’t care less about a comma, or even an “under god” statement.

I refuse to say the Pledge solely on the grounds that I do not share the sentiment.

Brian1946's avatar


Same here, especially the ”...liberty and justice for all” part.

Jeruba's avatar

I do say it, and I say it sincerely. I am an independent liberal, an ex-hippie, and a chronic rebel, but I do honor my country with my allegiance and my faith. I do respect patriotism. And I do believe in liberty and justice for all. If we fall short of the ideal, that doesn’t mean we should abandon the ideal.

lillycoyote's avatar

No one can force you to say the Pledge of Allegiance. They can’t force you to say it one way or the other or at all. I refuse to say it until there actually is “liberty and justice for all. That’s the phrase that matters most to me.

Jeruba's avatar

Hmm. You sound like some who would reply to my “Good morning” with “Not for me, it isn’t.” It’s not an assertion of what is. It’s a wish and hope for what will be. I say it because I think it’s important to remember that we hold those values close and work toward them.

lillycoyote's avatar


“Hmm. You sound like some who would reply to my “Good morning” with “Not for me, it isn’t.” It’s not an assertion of what is. It’s a wish and hope for what will be. I say it because I think it’s important to remember that we hold those values close and work toward them.”

Are you speaking to me or am I just being paranoid or am just having one of those “exaggerated-sense-of-my-own-fabulousness” moments? :)

Rarebear's avatar

@RedPowerLady and @ragingloli I’m not saying Ragingloli is wrong about the bullying thing. I’m just saying that I personally have never been a subject of bullying about it. But I also wasn’t a jerk about my protest either. I would stand respectfully, my hands at my sides, and wait for everybody else to finish.

Jeruba's avatar

I was, actually, @lillycoyote. I ought to have so indicated. I heard you saying that you won’t pledge your allegiance to the United States because you don’t see liberty and justice for all as a present reality. And I am saying it’s because we don’t see it as a present reality that we ought to pledge to it.

I used to work with a man who always treated my “good morning” wish as an invitation to debate, and he would tell me why it wasn’t a good morning for him. It’s a wish. I always did hope that someday he would have a good morning. That’s what I thought of when you—and not just you, but others—said you won’t pledge your allegiance on the apparent grounds that we haven’t yet fulfilled all our hopes for our country. To me that’s backwards—that’s why we need to pledge.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Jeruba your response and attitude about this reminds me of an old southern gentleman I worked with on a construction project once. He was the project manager. We started out behind schedule on a very demanding project at a nuclear site. Then our tooling started to fail, and we lost more time. After that we started to run through people faster than we should have (exposure time is very limited at a ‘hot’ nuke plant), and fell further behind while we trained replacements. Of course, we were positively burning money, too.

I accompanied him to one of his daily construction coordination meetings one day about two weeks into the project. On his way through the office building where the meeting would be held he was greeted with smiles and “good mornings”. He never failed to give everyone he met a big smile and a hearty “good morning!” and to every “How’re you?” he’d respond with apparent sincerity, “Great!”

I asked him about that during our walk through a quiet area, “Tom, this project is going to hell and we’re going to report another delay. How come you tell everyone that you’re doing ‘great’. You and I both know that isn’t so.”

I’ve always remembered—and adopted—his explanation: “Some of those people are my friends, and they don’t really know the details of how awful we’re doing right now. I don’t want to distress them. And the ones who don’t like us, well, I don’t want to give those bastards the satisfaction.” He smiled all the way through that. (And the project went fine, eventually; they always did.)

But I digress.

Chongalicious's avatar


lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba I am working on an answer for you on this. It is getting late and it is a rather important issue for me so I don’t want to just toss off some comment that doesn’t fully explain my position. I always say I am going to get back to people later, but sometimes I don’t. Hopefully I will follow through on this one.

Nullo's avatar

Naw, they ought to leave the comma alone. It preserves a certain rhythm.

phillis's avatar

A nation obssesses over a comma…...really?? Contemplating navel lint is more productive than this. Next week, we forensically test and identify exactly what shade of white was used on the White House.

No offense to you, personally, Starshine.

Nullo's avatar

That would be a waste of perfectly good forensic science. All you really need is a paint sample card and spectrograph of a flake from the facade.

phillis's avatar

Yeah, but it’s so much more involved than that! I want the nitty gritty details to focus on while the rest of my country suffers tremendously in countless ways.

margot23annie's avatar

I think we should start putting it to melodies, and sing it different every time, so people won’t be so bored . Here is my first idea: to the tune of “That’s the Way I Like It” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

Ahem—(singing )
I pledge allegiance—to the flag—
of the U—nited States—
of America—and to the—
republic—for which it stands—
one nation—under God—
indivisible—with liberty—
and justice—for everybody!—
for everybody!—for all!—
Chorus: Awwww, That’s the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it ! uh-huh uh-huh… and so on..

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