Earlier this week, the Fargo Board of Education reinstated the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings after facing a wave of backlash for voting to do away with the Pledge the week before.
The school board voted 8-1 on Thursday to reinstate the Pledge, with only one board member, Sudanese refugee Nyamal Dei, voting against the measure.
The board had decided to stop reciting the Pledge during an Aug. 9 meeting, when board members argued that the Pledge violated their diversity, equity and inclusion policies through its mention of “God.”
“Given that the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized, the text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian god and therefore, it does not include any other faith such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, all of which are practiced by our staff and students at FPS,” said board member Seth Holden.
We're calling on public schools and governing bodies to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and display the American flag. In North Dakota, we celebrate the American ideals upon which our country was founded! pic.twitter.com/h2kUynjGV7
— Doug Burgum (@DougForDakota) August 16, 2022
Backlash to the school board’s decision was swift and widespread, with criticism coming from both state lawmakers and angry Americans around the country.
One mother involved with Fargo Public Schools, Allie Ollenburger, said the decision was “petty politics,” and that Holden’s comments were “disrespectful” and “disgusting.” Jake Schmitz, the vice president of the Fargo school board, said he thought the board would try to ban the Pledge from schools next.
“The next logical step in the progression is [they’ll] want to remove it from schools because it’s a non-inclusionary act, which is a bunch of crap,” Schmitz said.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) also voiced his disapproval, announcing his hope that the North Dakota legislation would pass legislation to protect every student’s right to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
At the board meeting Thursday, Holden, who was behind the original push to ban the Pledge, said he was changing his vote for the sake of the school board’s “future.”
“I’m also concerned about what might happen to this board in the future because we’re going to have to probably be prepared to take more heat than we normally do for decisions that we make, because there may be a perception of success,” Holden said.