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Jan 29 2013

AZ Legislator Wants Religious Loyalty Oath to Graduate

From the Department of Creepy Authoritarian Ideas: A group of Republican legislators in Arizona have proposed a bill to require a loyalty oath — complete with a promise to God — before anyone in that state can graduate from high school. HB 4267 says:

BEGINNING IN THE 2013‑2014 SCHOOL YEAR, IN ADDITION TO FULFILLING THE COURSE OF STUDY AND ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED IN THIS CHAPTER, BEFORE A PUPIL IS ALLOWED TO GRADUATE FROM A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL IN THIS STATE, THE PRINCIPAL OR HEAD TEACHER OF THE SCHOOL SHALL VERIFY IN WRITING THAT THE PUPIL HAS RECITED THE FOLLOWING OATH:

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 OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THESE DUTIES; SO HELP ME GOD.

To make the text more realistic, it should say “I take this obligation under the coercion of the government, which will withhold my diploma, thus preventing me from going to college or getting a decent job, if I don’t swear fealty to both church and state.” At the risk of earning the wrath of Godwin, this is the sort of thing required by fascist governments, not democratic ones.

37 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    Yeah, they seemed to have a very skewed notion of ‘take this obligation freely.’

    On the plus side, its so obviously bad that IMO we can be pretty sure its DOA.

  2. 2
    peterh

    What is an oath for one is a platitude for another. These nutters must sit up nights thinking up crazy.

  3. 3
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Eric:

    We’re talking about Arizona here.

  4. 4
    kantalope

    I’ll offer the following amendment:

    FOLLOWING THE RECITATION OF THE MAGICAL WORDS THE STUDENT SHALL FROM MEMORY ONLY SING AND DANCE TO THE FOLLOWING SONG:
    OH! OHHHH YEEEH
    I USED TO THINK MAYBE YOU LOVED ME NOW BABY I’M SURE
    AND I JUST CANT WAIT TILL THE DAY WHEN YOU KNOCK ON MY DOOR
    NOW EVERYTIME I GO FOR THE MAILBOX , GOTTA HOLD MYSELF DOWN
    COS I JUST WAIT TILL YOU WRITE ME YOUR COMING AROUND

    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE , WOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE, WOOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE, WOOOAH
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!

    HEY , ALRIGHT NOW
    AND DONT IT FEEL GOOD!!
    HEY YEH

    I USED TO THINK MAYBE YOU LOVED ME, NOW I KNOW THAT ITS TRUE
    AND I DON’T WANT TO SPEND ALL MY LIFE , JUST IN WAITING FOR YOU
    NOW I DON’T WANT U BACK FOR THE WEEKEND
    NOT BACK FOR A DAY , NO NO NO
    I SAID BABY I JUST WANT YOU BACK AND I WANT YOU TO STAY

    WOAH YEH!
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE , WOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE, WOOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE, WOOOAH
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!

    HEY , ALRIGHT NOW
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!
    HEY YEH ,OH YEH
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!

    WALKING ON SUNSHINE
    WALKING ON SUNSHINE

    I FEEL THE LOVE,I FEEL THE LOVE, I FEEL THE LOVE THAT’S REALLY REAL
    I FEEL THE LOVE, I FEEL THE LOVE, I FEEL THE LOVE THAT’S REALLY REAL

    I’M ON SUNSHINE BABY OH
    I’M ON SUNSHINE BABY OH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE WOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE WOOAH
    I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE WOOAH
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!
    I’LL SAY IT AGAIN NOW
    AND DON’T IT FEEL GOOD!!

  5. 5
    brianwestley

    The main idiot is trying to change it to make it constitutional by making it optional now:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1321095–arizona-backs-off-on-oath-that-would-deny-atheists-right-to-graduate

    Still an epic fail.

  6. 6
    matty1

    Since Godwin has already been mentioned I’ll point out that they are only waiting for a Republican President to change the oath to one more like this

  7. 7
    d.c.wilson

    Wolverines!

    I see this as another symptom of the paranoid rightwing fantasy that any day now, the UN is going to launch the black helicopters and parachute the army of 50 million Muslims with their terror babies in tow into our communtieis to seize our guns and our golf courses. Oh, and make us all gay marry illegal immigrants.

    Because Agenda 21!

    And Soros!

  8. 8
    eric

    @5: they don’t need a law for that. Any graduate can raise their right hand and say that oath any time they want. Of course this idiot won’t be satisfied with any sort of ‘opt-in’ solution since the entire purpose is to put social pressure on high schoolers to participate in doing what he wants them to do.

    From your link:

    Thorpe said he drafted the bill “to encourage our high school graduates to understand and appreciate our U.S. Constitution, which is the supreme law of our land and at the very core of what makes America exceptional.”

    Well, first, graduation is a lousy time to bring that up. If you want to instill appreciation, shouldn’t you do it while they’re actually in school, studying the darn thing?

    Second, if this is what he really wants (it isn’t), it makes a lot more sense just to change the graduaton requirement from 0.5 credit of generic American Government to 1.0 credit of American Government with the extra semester specified as being spent on the Constitution.

  9. 9
    grumpyoldfart

    Amid the uproar, Thorpe later drafted key amendments to make reciting the oath optional and to allow for students to affirm rather than swear the oath. His legislative attorneys were working on the amendment later in the day Monday. “Since the day that this bill was introduced, I was planning on amending it to make the oath optional,” Thorpe told the Toronto Star in an email.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1321095–arizona-backs-off-on-oath-that-would-deny-atheists-right-to-graduate

    Sounds like a schoolkid who falls off his skateboard and says, “I meant to do that.”

  10. 10
    glodson

    @ 5 If it is optional, that makes this bill an entire waste of time. And I’m good with that.

  11. 11
    TGAP Dad

    Wasn’t compulsory speach struck down several decades ago in West Virginia v. Barnette?

  12. 12
    glodson

    Also, wouldn’t this deny a diploma to other Christian religions that hold that swearing any oath is against their religious beliefs?

  13. 13
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    Not to mention that any visiting abroad students or non-American resident students wouldn’t be able to give this oath anyway.

    I love the idea of a required oath that is taken “freely”.

  14. 14
    R Hayes

    I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION

    except the First Amendment part.

  15. 15
    freemage

    I suspect “optional” will mean “opt-out”. Ie, you have to decide you want to declare, publicly, that you don’t want to take the oath in order to not have to do so–which, of course, means that there’s gonna be a shit-ton of peer-pressure and coercion from the more authoritarian-minded teachers and principals on the kid.

    That said, my understanding is that AZ currently has a sufficiently large Democratic majority in their statehouse that this bill’s likely a non-flyer, a show bill for the sponsor to use as a dog-whistle to the base.

  16. 16
    The Lorax

    If they want people to be devoted to America, they should make America worth being devoted to.

  17. 17
    oranje

    I’m not signing up to defend anything.

  18. 18
    Rip Steakface

    I think it would be okay to have students swear an oath similar to the President’s oath of office at graduation (all that about “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic”), presuming of course the person administering the oath doesn’t add “so help me God.”

    I know that I would be okay with saying something like “I do solemnly swear that I will be faithful to the responsibility given to me as an educated member of society, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” at my own graduation.

    Obviously some constructive changes to that little made-up oath would be good, and I can totally understand why some people (for example, non-citizens graduating from an American high school) wouldn’t want to take the oath… so make it optional… and therefore useless.

    You know what, fuck that idea, it’s pointless for someone who has no need to hold any loyalty to the US to have to swear an oath to that country just to cap off their secondary education…

    …Unless you consider receiving that education a benefit you have received as a result of being in that country and therefore you should hold some loyalty to the same.

    Grr, I’ve gone on too long. Leave the rumination to someone more skilled.

  19. 19
    NitricAcid

    I’m almost surprised he didn’t add in, “I swear to vote Republican in all elections.”

  20. 20
    laurentweppe

    For some reason, “I will to my lord be true and faithful and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns” sounds much cooler when it’s Leonard Nimoy reciting it in Civilization instead of a politician trying to force teenagers to basically say the same thing.

  21. 21
    raven

    Seems to me this is fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.

    1. Just how many recent high school graduates in Arizona are “disloyal”, whatever that means. It’s probably around zero.

    2. How is reciting a meaningless loyalty oath going to make anyone “loyal”, whatever loyal is. If they were disloyal, they would just recite it and then ignore it. That is what disloyals (whatever they are) do, after all.

    It’s all just cuckoo nonsense from someone who probably got bored dreaming up anti-(women, gay, science, nonwhite, nonxian, Democrat) laws that aren’t constituional and defending Arizona against UN Agenda 21 and the Space Reptiles.

    Trying to pass laws against your paranoid fantasies and pet hates, doesn’t look too smart or legal.

  22. 22
    machintelligence

    I didn’t originate it, but it’s too appropriate to miss passing along.

    You can’t spell CRAZY without R AZ.

  23. 23
    shadowwalkyr

    That’s the military Oath of Enlistment with “So help me God” appended. Is this idiotic legislator saying you can’t graduate high school without joining the military?

  24. 24
    Modusoperandi

    Note to Arizona Representatives Thorpe, Borrelli, Seel, Shope, Smith: Dial, Livingston & Senator Crandell, before they get there, they have to graduate first.

  25. 25
    serena

    I’m an Arizona High School Dropout, currently aged 32 and taking GED classes at a nearby tradeschool. I wasn’t even aware that there was any oath required in the first place; this blows my mind, how can anyone make you swear an oath in order to be granted something you earned? What even is it an oath to, the Constitution and America? In what way is that related to graduating compulsory education?

  26. 26
    DaveC

    @23 – this is not the enlistment oath – that is slightly different. This is (almost) the same oath military officers take when they are commissioned, and repeat each time they are promoted. It is similar to oath the President and all public officials are required to take, as specified in the Constitution (Article II, Section 1 and Article VI).

  27. 27
    DaveL

    I think it would be okay to have students swear an oath similar to the President’s oath of office at graduation

    I find it really weird to consider “high school graduate” as some sort of office or position of public trust.

  28. 28
    timberwoof

    That’s the US citizenship oath. Along with it come the right to vote, the right to run and perhaps serve in political office, and the responsibility to serve on a jury. I suspect that plenty of children of illegal immigrants would be perfectly happy to take that oath.

  29. 29
    Modusoperandi

    timberwoof, so now they want to come over here and take our pledges?! Quick, call Sheriff Arpaio!

  30. 30
    Larry

    I’m curious what duties a high school graduate would be swearing to discharge. As far as I know, a diploma confers no obligations upon the recipient for any duties what so ever. Its simply a piece of paper acknowledging that a person has satisfied all the requirements of the educational system. The mere act of transferring the piece of paper, the diploma, is a ceremonial act. The student has already passed the necessary coursework and is finished with the schooling. I doubt any colleges make having the piece of paper a necessary requirement for acceptance. In fact, colleges general issue their acceptance letters before the senior year is even completed.

    All in all, a meaningless masturbatory action taken on the part of a clueless group of people who believe they are pulling off the quintessential gotcha. Its good to see Arizona has their house in complete order such that they can waste time on such idiocies.

  31. 31
    D. C. Sessions

    That said, my understanding is that AZ currently has a sufficiently large Democratic majority in their statehouse that this bill’s likely a non-flyer, a show bill for the sponsor to use as a dog-whistle to the base.

    Dunno where you got that. The big change this last election was that instead of having a 2:1 majority in both Houses, the Republicans actually only have 60%. Which means that for some exceptional cases there are times when a Democratic vote actually might make a difference. As distinct from the last two years, when Democrats might as well not bother to show up.

  32. 32
    fifthdentist

    eric: “Second, if this is what he really wants (it isn’t), it makes a lot more sense just to change the graduation requirement from 0.5 credit of generic American Government to 1.0 credit of American Government with the extra semester specified as being spent on the Constitution.”

    You think they actually WANT kids to learn what’s in the Constitution? (And by extension that Republicans are full of shit).

  33. 33
    Aaron

    I really dislike it when our legislators go out there and produce these fluffy meaningless (well in this meaningful in a bad way) bills instead of working on the budget or producing actual bills that DO something. AT best he thought this would be a neat little jigoistic loyalty bill – but even at that think of the time wasted creating the bill, discussing it, voting for it, and then the endless beurocratic nonsense creating the actual documents, keeping track of it, spending time monitoring it. I mean, seriously, fire this guy. Hes actively wasting everybodys time.

  34. 34
    chilidog99

    I suggest the following:

    “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

    Then all the graduates will be full U.S. citizens as well.

  35. 35
    matty1

    Some might say that in a free democratic society the people do not owe loyalty to the government, the government owes loyalty to the people.

  36. 36
    shockna

    This makes me rather glad I got out in 2008. There’d have been lawsuits if they tried to push this kind of stupidity on me or several of my classmates.

  37. 37
    howardhershey

    What do you want to bet that these nutcases also want to encourage people to arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons to fight against the totalitarian federal gummint. You know, the gummint run by freely elected communists and … did you know there is a BLACK president!

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