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Mixed reaction over new Pledge of Allegiance bill

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LAWTON, Okla._The Pledge of Allegiance must now be recited weekly in all Oklahoma public schools, under a bill recently signed by Governor Mary Fallin.

The old law said schools were allowed to recite the pledge but they just weren't required to do it. However, the new bill also allows students to opt out and schools must post a notice which clearly shows they have that choice.

They have always said the Pledge of Allegiance and always will regardless if it's required or not. But when the question was put out into social media, it became apparent that there’s a wide range of opinions. Some say the law is a waste of time since schools do it anyway while others didn't like the idea of forced patriotism.

The pledge was written in 1892 by socialist minister, Francis Bellamy, many years later in 1942 it was formally adopted by Congress. It was only in 1954 when the words "under God" were added but arguments about the pledge started before then.

Zachary Melinda commented on our Facebook page saying “It needs to be recited every morning before school starts.”

Jean Green agrees but says the law isn't needed.

"Well I think it's a good thing that they do it, but I think making a law that says they have to do it is totally against everything in our country," said Green.

Lawton Public Schools Communication Director, Keith Mitchell, says the pledge is engrained in our community.

"We are extremely proud and I think part of the reason of that is that we are a military town, a military community, we do have a lot of military dependents in our schools,” explained Mitchell. “But even if we weren't, this would be something we would want to stress. It’s about being a good citizen."

The fact that it's mandatory has some people happy. Eric said in his Facebook comment, “Pledge of Allegiance to our nation is not a choice! If you don’t want to pledge allegiance to the red, white and blue then you can go to communist China.”

For others it’s worrisome to make patriotism mandatory.

"I kind of find it ironic that pledging allegiance to a country that has freedom of speech and then makes a law that you have to pledge allegiance,” said Green. “It's kind of like Nazi Germany."

"Even down to our Pre-K program which is our 4 year olds. Those kids are in school for half a day and in our Pre-K's here in Lawton we actually have them learn how to say the pledge," explained Mitchell.

The Supreme Court has heard several legal challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance being taught in school. Each time they have consistently ruled over the past ten years or so that as long as students' participation is voluntary and that there are no punishments for not reciting it then it’s legal.

Elgin and Duncan school districts both said they also recite the pledge from elementary to high school every day. The law will go into effect July 1 of this year.

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