Sunday Commentary: Are you a high schooler who doesn’t believe in God? Well, that’s a shame – by Godless Teen
Recently, the GOP decided to propose a new bill in Arizona that would require the following:
BEGINNING IN THE 2013‑2014 SCHOOL YEAR, IN ADDITION TO FULFILLING THE COURSE OF STUDY AND ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED IN THIS CHAPTER, BEFORE A PUPIL IS ALLOWED TO GRADUATE FROM A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL IN THIS STATE, THE PRINCIPAL OR HEAD TEACHER OF THE SCHOOL SHALL VERIFY IN WRITING THAT THE PUPIL HAS RECITED THE FOLLOWING OATH:
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.
Ok, first, without even looking at the last phrase- this oath is stupid. Seriously, since when does whether or not you say something determine whether or not you graduate? What- it I don’t say this oath, then I’m not intelligent enough to graduate from public school?
Of course, it gets worse. Forcing students to swear that they will support the Constitution, defend the US, etc- do politicians expect all of these students to become soldiers, or even to continue living in the United States? With politicians, this oath is more meaningful- more or less, it’s a binding contract that, basically, the politician will do what he or she was elected to do in the first place. But with students, there’s no such existing obligation, so I honestly have to say that the need for an oath to exist like this at all is… Disturbing.
And of course, as Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist quotes from Ilya Gerner: “Nothing says “I take this obligation freely” quite like a state law that withholds your diploma unless you swear an oath.”
And I’ve hardly mentioned the “so help me God” part up to this point.
Even without it, I’d say that this oath is stupid and should not, by any decent standard, be passed as a law.
However, the addition of “so help me God” makes me even more frustrated. That Arizona Republicans would withhold a high school diploma from a student simply because they refuse to say “so help me God” as opposed to “so help me Allah”, “so help me Vishnu”, or for not saying anything at all- is simply ridiculous. This is forcing your religion on others; it attempts to force others to accept your religion, simply because- what? You can’t bear the idea that somebody believes differently from you?
On the bright side, there’s no way that this bill will become a law, given the provisions of the First Amendment.
(via the Friendly Atheist)