Main | Friday, January 25, 2013

ARIZONA: Republicans Introduce Bill Demanding "So Help Me God" Loyalty Oath For High School Graduation

The above Arizona Republican representatives have introduced a bill requiring that public high school seniors swear loyalty to the Constitution and to God in order to graduate. The wording of the oath is familiar:
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 or evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; so help me God.
Hemant Mehta writes at Friendly Atheist:
It’s bad enough the Republicans are demanding loyalty of the kind normally reserved for members of Congress and beyond — but there’s also no way I would say those last four words, and the current text of the legislation does not allow for any alternatives. In other words, if this bill were to become a law, atheists would either not be allowed to graduate… or they would be forced to lie so they could graduate. Neither option is acceptable.
Arizona Business Journal notes:
Jehovah’s witnesses, some Muslims and pacifist Quakers have in the past challenged loyalty oaths imposed by the federal government and other agencies, saying they conflict with their beliefs and religious professions. Similarly, some Arizona students could challenge the proposed high school oath as a violation of their religious liberties and freedom of expression.
The lead sponsor of the bill has also introduced a companion bill demanding that all public school students in grades 1-12 recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, including the "under God" portion. Students can be excused from that requirement with parental permission. There is no exemption provided for the loyalty oath to be demanded for graduation from high school. (Tipped by JMG reader Homer)

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