Carrollton Leader > News
Couple vies to get ‘God’ out of pledge
SARAH BLASKOVICH, Staff Writer
The Carrollton parents who are suing Gov. Rick Perry in two separate lawsuits were denied a request to keep children from reciting the Texas Pledge of Allegiance.
David and Shannon Croft, suing on behalf of their children currently enrolled at Rosemeade Elementary School, are however not yet finished fighting God language in public schools. They will still appear in court to dispute the case against the Texas pledge; the trial date has not yet been set.
“It was a little disappointing, but I can’t say I was surprised either,” Shannon Croft said. “It’s a very controversial topic, so for the judge to rule in our favor would have really shaken things up.”
The Crofts are opposed to the wording of the Texas pledge, which in June was revised so that “one state under God” was added to it. David and Shannon Croft call themselves “humanists,” which is similar to atheism. They believe in the goodness of people but don’t believe in the supernatural, Shannon Croft said.
“It seems strange to me that kids, now starting in kindergarten, are mandated to pledge allegiance to really, anything. They don’t really know what they’re saying,” Shannon Croft said.
U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade ruled against the Crofts because their attorney Dean Cook failed to show that the Croft’s children would suffer “irreparable injury” by continuing to have students say the state pledge each morning.
The Texas Education Code requires all public school classrooms to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag and the state flag once during each school day. Students are allowed to opt out of saying either or both pledges with a written note from their parents.
The Crofts don’t think that is enough, Shannon Croft said.
One argument made by Greg Abbot, attorney general of Texas, is that if the Crofts are worried about their children hearing the phrase “under God” in the pledge, they should be challenging both the U.S. pledge and the Texas pledge, which have the same language. The Crofts current suit opposes only the Texas pledge.
“Those children will continue to hear the identical phrase ‘under God’ in the U.S. pledge, and thus will continue to suffer the same illusory injury,” reads Abbot’s defendant’s brief.
When the Texas pledge was changed this year, one of the reasons “one state under God” was added was to mirror the U.S. pledge, which in part reads “one nation under God.”
The Crofts contend that their children should not be obligated to pledge allegiance to anything until they are old enough to make a decision for themselves, Shannon Croft said.
“I can see if you were a soldier, or a congressman, or the president, where you would need to pledge allegiance,” she said. “But for this to be in our public schools, I just feel like that’s inappropriate.”
The back story
David Croft has been documenting experiences with the school district that he deemed inappropriate since 2003. His 19-page chronology recognized incidents such as school visits from the Boy Scouts and extra-curricular Bible studies hosted at the school that Croft said violated his children’s First Amendment rights.
According to the chronology, David Croft wrote a letter to the current Rosemeade Elementary principal in December 2005, requesting that his three children be excused from saying both pledges in school. He also asked that they be removed from an end-of-the-semester celebration, in which students would be singing “Silent Night.”
“The planned school activity of singing ‘Silent Night’ conflicts with our religious beliefs,” the letter reads.
The three Croft children did not go to school on the last day of the semester in December 2005.
Several months later, David and Shannon Croft were engaged in two lawsuits.
One suit was filed in 2006, and involves their concern about the minute of silence mandated at public schools. The Crofts are still engaged in that case, according to the records clerk at the U.S. District Court for the northern district of Texas. The Crofts are suing Gov. Rick Perry as well as the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district in this lawsuit.
The second lawsuit is against only Gov. Rick Perry and asks that all Texas public schools ban the recitation of the Texas pledge. It is this lawsuit that was just denied the preliminary injunction last week.
David Croft also comments about the trial and about his experiences in his blog, david-wallace-croft.blogspot.com.
Contact Sarah Blaskovich at 972-628-4074 or at SBlaskovich@acnpapers.com.
Texas Pledge of Allegiance
“Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”
*“One state under God” was added officially in June
*The language mimics that of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance, which reads, in part, “one nation under God.”
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