Arizona Students Must Swear Loyalty To God In Order To Graduate

Arizona is at it again. Not content with abolishing ethnic studies classes, pursuing xenophobic immigration policies and desperately fighting same-sex marriage, Arizona’s lawmakers have now come up with a bill that requires high school students to swear loyalty to the US and say “so help me God” in order to graduate.

I should add that these are GOP lawmakers.

If this new bill just becomes law, all public high school students in Arizona will have to recite an oath supporting the U.S. ConstitutionĚ in order to graduate. The measure, House Bill 2467, was offered by Representative Bob Thorpe (R), a freshman Tea Party member.

No big surprise: this same representative is also behind a bill preventing state enforcement of federally enacted gun safety laws.

Students would be required to say:

“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.”

From Alternet:

A separate measure introduced by Thorpe’s colleague would also require all students in first through 12th grades to say the pledge of allegiance each day. Currently, schools must set aside time for the pledge each day, but students may choose whether to participate.

Constitutional experts warn that both proposals are unconstitutional. As American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham explained, You can’t require students to attend school and then require them to either pledge allegiance to the flag or swear this loyalty oath in order to graduate. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.

As you might expect, there have been plenty of instances of people of various faiths challenging loyalty oaths imposed by the federal government, including Jehovah’s witnesses, Muslims and pacifist Quakers, protesting that such oaths conflict with their beliefs and religious professions.

So it seems likely that some students in Arizona will pursue that path if this bill, which is clearly a violation of their right to religious liberty and free speech,† becomes law.

Such proposals have affected other US schools. Last August, the Nebraska Board of Education voted to require all public K-12 schools in the state to make time for the Pledge of Allegiance every day, but students are not forced to participate.

However, New Jersey high school student Chelsea Stanton fought a long battle with her school last summer, and won the right to stay seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. As an atheist, Stanton said she “couldn’t bring herself to recite [the Pledge] anymore” because of the words, “under God.”

Growing up in England, with church and state being one, I was required to recite Christian prayers every morning. But the few students of other faiths, mostly Jewish, quietly left the room, returning at the end of the session.

To suggest that all students should intone “under God” in order to receive a degree is both insulting, and also in violation of the First Amendment. Is Representative Thorpe doing this because he doesn’t trust parents in Arizona (maybe especially the 30 percent who are Latino) to instil a love of country and God in their children?

What will Arizona come up with next?


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Photo Credit: LYnC_USAFRICOM


Muriel C.
Muriel C4 years ago

Let me get this straight: the kids have to swear to defend the constitution by obeying an unconstitutional law voted by their State's legislature? Oh, the irony!

Victoria Gewe
Victoria M5 years ago

There is another concern about this law than just the religious one. What about international students? Wouldn't this law essentially be requiring them to commit treason against their own countries by making them swear to support America before they support their home countries?

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

I like the idea behind this, but you can't force anyone to believe in God. That is the Holy Spirit's job.

Sarah Mussa
Sarah Mussa5 years ago

I must also add that I am a strong believer and religion is my life, but i know better than to force my faith on those who reject/ dont understand it.

Sarah Mussa
Sarah Mussa5 years ago

Religion shouldn't be imposed on anyone.

Diane Lewis
Diane Lewis5 years ago

We do have some great politicians in Arizona: Gabby Giffords among them. However, when I travel out of state, sometimes I wish I could have a fake California license plate to put on my car. Luckily as the population increases here, we are getting more and more tolerant, liberal citizens. Meanwhile, our state legislature keeps us laughing.

antonia maestre
antonia maestre5 years ago

Whatever happened to the separation between Church and State?

Jennifer P.
Jennifer P5 years ago

This bill should be struck down in its infancy. Maybe in a state other than Arizona, any 8th grader would be able to tell you that this is a clear violation of church and state.

Furthermore it seems like that would be a violation of the right to an education provided by the state to force me to say some stupid oath (not that protecting the constitution is stupid) or else you can't have your diploma??? Really? Don't you want your graduation rates to go up, not down?

Chuck D.
Chuck D.5 years ago

Steve, no one "banned religion" from public schools...they merely removed school-sponsored prayer and Bible readings, but students are free to engage in these activities voluntarily, if they choose.In fact, my 10th grade Global Studies class included a comparative religion study as part of the course.

Steve Gill
Steve Gill5 years ago

I thought all your schools down there in the states banned if thats the case how can they ask someone to swear under God anything?