Homepage Forums Boy Scouts (Scouts BSA) Pledge of Allegiance Participation

This topic contains 9 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Paul 1 year, 4 months ago.

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  • #75846 Reply

    Keith Abbott

    One of the middle schools in my school district has a student that is refusing to participate reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. A couple of teachers did not handle the situation well, and there is now a rally planned by a parent for tomorrow morning outside of the middle school. Police will be present at the school to keep the peace.

    Which got me to thinking: how should unit leaders respond if there is a scout and/or parent that refuses to participate in the flag ceremony, pledge of allegiance, etc. It could be not particularly visible, if they just choose to not say the words. But if they choose to remain seated, people would most certainly notice.

    Also, even if parents react appropriately, youth members may not, which could create a situation that unit leaders would also need to respond to.

  • #75885 Reply


    Sounds like it would be a good time to be proactive and teach the scouts about citizenship, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression.

    Better to education the scouts prior to there being a problem then trying to deal within after it happens.

  • #75914 Reply

    Lori Reed

    I always ask myself is it better if this person is in Scouting or not. Generally yes. We benefit youth. Refusing to say the pledge is an individual’s right and that is what our service members fought for. The individual should stand. I must admit that I did this as a teenager. Now I say it begrudgingly because I don’t think we as a society should expect an oath to country. This is an opportunity for learning and discussion. Find out why they won’t say it.

    • #75949 Reply


      Ummm… no. There is no “individual right” to not say the pledge for a minor AND especially when CHOOSING to participate in a PRIVATE organization that has repeatedly won Supreme court decisions validating that we have the authority to set our own “behavior” standards and conduct.

      We teach (and build) Citizenship, and then there are several American heritage-related badges along with lessons and guidelines for Flag etiquette, flag ceremonies, and flag retirement ceremonies & etiquette, and Duty to my Country, etc…

      A Scout is OBEDIENT. If there’s a boy who won’t “obey”, then he’s simply NOT living by the “Oath and Law”, and therefore any form of “rank advancement” would stop right there. He should be educated as to why such lessons & actions are part of his Scouting career. Explain and set the expectations, but NEVER ACCEPT or make excuses for unscoutlike behavior. If he continues to refuse, then perhaps the BSA is not the right place for him.

      It’s no different than a Scout who declares himself an Atheist and fails to meet his “duty to God”

  • #75982 Reply


    Another way to challenge the scout: if he doesn’t believe this nation is something he should ally himself with, why would he want to keep company with people who have allied themselves with the republic for which the flag stands?

    We even have scouts who are citizens from other countries willingly rise for the pledge. Some even recite it with no sense of disloyalty to their home country.

  • #76154 Reply

    Michael Limmer

    We are ignoring his First Amendment rights, minor or not. This can be a teachable moment, or it can be an instance where the boy leaves scouting. Which is better? Obedience cannot be the issue here. No one is hurt by his refusal. He will be asked by his fellow scouts to explain his position in discussions that occur out of earshot of adults. This will allow the scout to justify, explain, and process his reasoning to his peers.

    • #76726 Reply


      Ummm… no. Although all citizens (regardless of age) have certain rights to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, that does not equate to a MINOR having the “full” rights of an adult.

      The Law recognizes that CHILDREN do not have the maturity, judgement, rational thought processes, etc…. that afford them to be be treated “like any other citizen”. That is why our legal system has something call the “age of majority” and in other aspects of Law, “age of consent” for marriage & sex, etc. It is also why/how institutions (like Schools & Scouting) have EVERY RIGHT to restrict the “free speech” of CHILDREN, and why court systems treat minors differently than adults.

      A 12 year old boy does NOT have a “1st Amendment right” to not say the Pledge if he doesn’t want to.

      (I mean no disrespect here) May I suggest that you re-take the BSA training? A key point that you are missing is the DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES of youth and how boys of different ages “see the world” depending on where they are in their age/maturation cycle. A 12 year old boy is not going to rationally defend a “radical” position, nor would he be mentally capable of seeking “middle ground” and compromise when his maturity level is “Fair vs Unfair” and sees the world only in black/white absolutes.

      No sir… Scouting is NOT the place for kids to have this type of “confusion” introduced to them. They are much better served obeying the BSA rules and then have the “teachable moment” of Citizenship and American Heritage merit badges to help him understand why America is exceptional and different than any other country in the world.

    • #157800 Reply

      Brian Westley

      A 12 year old boy does NOT have a “1st Amendment right” to not say the Pledge if he doesn’t want to.

      Yes, he does. See West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) and Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

  • #76753 Reply


    when did BSA start to get away from its on oath and laws?

  • #143977 Reply


    Paul, minors do have Constitutional rights of free speech. The Supreme Court has said so. See the Tinker case. Students cannot be forced to say the pledge of allegiance in school. As to your point about BSA being a private institution, yes. However BSA membership does not require assent to the pledge of allegiance. You are over looking that several religions prohibit their members from saying a pledge of allegiance to a flag as a form of idolatry. Seventh Day Adventists, for example. Whether for religious, political or other reasons, you should not try to compel the saying of the pledge. It is also not kind or friendly to do that.

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