In a public school what do Jehovah Witnesses do each morning when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited by the students? Do they stand quietly, or do they respectfully remain outside the classrooms until the pledge is ended?

Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all

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    For those of us not familiar with the Pledge you mention, could you include a link or quotation as to what is the problem in regard to reciting the Pledge ?
    – Nigel J
    Nov 5, 2021 at 8:30
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    This article gives the official Jehovah's Witness explanation as to why their children do not repeat the pledge of alliegance to the American flag but does not address this specific question as to where they are when the rest of the class does so: wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101995044
    – Lesley
    Nov 5, 2021 at 17:58
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    Do students even still say the pledge in classrooms? I graduated high school ten years ago and I think the pledge was optional even then. By now I'd imagine most students would be looked at as pariahs if they said it. I should mention I graduated high school in a solidly red state. I'd be surprised if my blue state peers even had the option back in 2012
    – jaredad7
    Nov 5, 2021 at 19:19
  • Related. christianity.stackexchange.com/a/60747/23657
    – Kris
    Nov 6, 2021 at 23:10

2 Answers 2


My Jehovah's Witness relatives forbade their children to attend any form of religious instruction in school - they were excused and sat in an empty classroom doing homework instead.

As for singing "God Save the Queen" - which is the equivalent of reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag - on one occasion when attending a public concert where singing the national anthem was mandatory, the Jehovah's Witness children were ushered out of their seats in the auditorium and made to stand in the corridor outside while the national anthem was sung.

A form of public humiliation. Little did they appreciate that even though they were not in the auditorium singing the anthem, they were standing outside in the corridor.

It takes courage for a child to be singled out publicly in front of their peers in order to comply with the wishes of their parents whose religious beliefs are at odds with things like saluting the flag, or reciting the pledge of allegiance, or singing "God Save the Queen". But then, the children of Jehovah's Witnesses have to obey their parents, even if they might not understand why they have to be different.

Whether American children of Jehovah's Witness parents have to leave the room while the pledge is being taken, I do not know. Even if they are led outside, that singles them out as being "not one of us" and different.

The official J.W. position is in this link: https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101995044

P.S. Here in the U.K. singing "God Save the Queen" was the norm in the 1960's whether at a public concert or in a cinema. Alas, no longer.

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    At our school assembly in Glasgow, every morning, we sang a hymn from the Scottish hymnal, had a brief scripture reading and then a prefect recited a short prayer. My form teacher was Exclusive Brethren and thus did not wish to attend so he volunteered to oversee the Jewish pupils' assembly which, in retrospect, is an inexplicable course of action, in my own view. (We didn't ever sing the National Anthem but had to sing the school song, which was a bit self-righteous but otherwise unobjectionable.)
    – Nigel J
    Nov 5, 2021 at 20:18
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    Additional info found here.
    – Kris
    Nov 8, 2021 at 0:33

What do Jehovah's Witnesses students do when the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is recited at American schools?

I am not an expert in this domain and am not even an American, but from the little I can find to read online about the question is that students simply remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance and do not raise their arms to salute the flag either. It is really that simple. Others will simply stand for the flag salute but not for the playing of the national anthem. Nowadays, the Watch Tower encourages a standing position (source).

Considering the history of this question matter, I find their stance somewhat admirable!

For advocates of church-state separation, the more significant change occurred in 1954. The words “under God” were slipped into the Pledge between “one nation” and “indivisible.” This came about after a pressure campaign spearheaded primarily by the Knights of Columbus. (The same group, incidentally, lobbied to make Columbus Day a national holiday in 1934.)

During the 1950s, the United States was locked in an ideological struggle with “godless communism,” and adding a reference to God to the Pledge was seen by many as a good tactical move. When the Senate deliberated the matter, U.S. Sen. Homer Ferguson (R-Minn.) opined, “I believe this modification of the Pledge is important because it highlights one of the real, fundamental differences between the free world and the communist world, namely belief in God.”

The Pledge’s place in public schools was thus secured – but not everyone was on board. Jehovah’s Witnesses, who don’t believe in pledging to anything other than God, refused to take part and went to court seeking an opt-out for their children. They lost the first case in 1940, but the Supreme Court soon realized its mistake and ruled in 1943 that public school students can’t be compelled to recite the Pledge.

Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses still sit out the Pledge, as do some non-believers and others who want to engage in social protest. While youngsters have the right to refrain from reciting the Pledge, some school officials still try to force it. Every school year, Americans United has to remind a few schools that students have the right not to take part. - Christopher Columbus, The Pledge Of Allegiance And ‘Under God’ – Yes, There’s A Connection

The Jehovah’s Witnesses has suffered a great deal because of this.

At a moment when the NFL is considering making its players stand for the anthem before games—and under immense pressure to do so from president Donald Trump and patriotic fans—perhaps it’s time to take a look back at that history and realize that protesting a flag or anthem is never a simple matter of patriotism. Being able to protest is actually a long-established right, and it’s a right that was established in the most American of circumstances: by a religious group, before the Supreme Court.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses first began refusing to salute national flags after the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s and started demanding everyone do it. Many Witnesses refused, seeing doing so as idolatry—putting a country above God—and were beaten up for their trouble. News of the violence soon spread to America, where Witnesses also started questioning the respect they were required to show their national symbols. - Americans can “take a knee” during the national anthem thanks to the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Saying the Pledge in schools has long been intertwined with civil liberties and religious or ethnic minorities. But in some cases, students’ rights to sit while it’s recited is still up in the air.

Jehovah's Witnesses, Brown said, are "very good citizens" but do not compromise their beliefs. Nazi killed many Jehovah’s Witnesses.

During World War II, more than 2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses died _ 250 were executed _ at the hands of the Nazis because they refused to renounce their beliefs and pledge allegiance to the Nazi state.

Jehovah's Witnesses respect the American flag, said Barrows, the overseer of the East Clearwater congregation.

"It is a symbol of the country in which we live," he said and added that Jehovah's Witnesses object to saluting the flag on religious, not political, grounds.

"It's based on, among other things, our desire to obey the second of the Ten Commandments. . . . You must not make for yourself a carved image. . . . You must not bow down to them. Our devotion belongs to Jehovah God, our creator."

Jehovah's Witnesses also would not normally wear clothing displaying the American flag, Barrows said. If required as part of a uniform, they will do so, he said.

"We draw the line when it comes to what we swear our devotion to," he added.

Brown, the group's public relations director, explained further: "Our view of the flag is that, for the most part, it is treated by nations as a sacred symbol; and it's really treated with a religious reverence. And that is why Jehovah's Witnesses decline to participate in ceremonies such as saluting the flag, viewing such action as an act of worship."

In any event, he said, "This conscientious stand is not intended to show disrespect for the flag of any nation. . . . Our real devotion and citizenship belong to the kingdom of God." - She's unable to salute the flag, even now

Knowing that many of us are not Americans, here is a little history of the Pledge of Allegiance:

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of allegiance to the flag of the United States and the republic of the United States of America. Such a pledge was first composed, with a text different from the one used at present, by Captain George Thatcher Balch, a Union Army Officer during the Civil War and later a teacher of patriotism in New York City schools. The form of the pledge used today was largely devised by Francis Bellamy in 1892, and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge 50 years later, in 1942. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The most recent alteration of its wording came on Flag Day (June 14) in 1954, when the words "under God" were added.

The current United States Flag Code says:

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all," should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and veterans may render the military salute in the manner provided for persons in uniform.


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