Schools won’t ban
daily oath right away

A ruling against the
Pledge of Allegiance
gives time for appeals

By Craig Gima

When school resumes at Kapolei Elementary School and at other public schools in Hawaii on July 8, students still will recite the Pledge of Allegiance as they always have -- at least until the U.S. Supreme Court or schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto says otherwise.

A decision by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that it is unconstitutional to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools does not take effect for several months, to allow appeals.

In a 2-1 decision yesterday, the judges said the phrase "one nation under God" amounts to a government endorsement of religion in violation of the separation of church and state.

"It (the Pledge of Allegiance) is part of the classroom routine in the morning," said Michael Miyamura, principal at Kapolei Elementary.

Miyamura said he would be disappointed if the pledge is banned from the public schools.

Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen said departmental policy is that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is voluntary. "Any student who chooses not to participate in it is allowed to be excused from that," Knudsen said.

He said he does not expect the superintendent or the Board of Education to change the policy on the pledge until the U.S. Supreme Court rules.

At Honolulu Stadium park in Moiliili yesterday, Arlene Ishimura was not bothered by the ruling, saying schools could teach respect for America without requiring the daily pledge. But Tracy Cho, whose son also attends public school, called the ruling "bogus" because the pledge is "all about America." Norman Pang, principal of Holomua Elementary School in Ewa, said that when classes resume on July 8, fifth- and sixth-grade teachers would use the court ruling to teach their students about the pledge and what it means.

The oath has changed several times over the years.

Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister with socialist leanings, wrote the original version in 1892 for a family magazine.

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," he wrote.

The wording "the Flag of the United States of America" was added in 1923 by the first National Flag Conference.

Congress inserted the "under God" phrase at the height of the Cold War in 1954 after a campaign by the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus, religious leaders and others.

Star-Bulletin news services
contributed to this story.

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