WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama made what could very well prove to be the most controversial move of his presidency with the signing of Executive Order 13738, which revokes the federal government’s official recognition of the Pledge of Allegiance. Under the new order, it is now illegal for any federally funded agency to display the pledge or for any federal employee to recite, or encourage others to recite, the pledge while on duty. This law also applies to federal contractors and other institutions that receive federal funding such as public schools. Individuals who violate this order can face fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in federal prison.
During the press conference, the President explained his decision was based on a personal belief that the language used in the pledge is “divisive” and “contrary to America’s deepest held values.”
“The pledge excludes so many Americans who are vital to making this country what it is,” Obama said. “Asking someone to pledge their allegiance to our country excludes Jehovah’s Witnesses, Amish, Muslims, and many others whose religious beliefs prohibit strong displays of nationalism. By calling this ‘one nation under God’, we exclude the millions of hard working atheists and agnostics who call America home. By saying ‘liberty and justice for all’, we ignore the grievances of millions of Hispanics, African Americans and Muslims who feel they have neither liberty nor justice.”
Obama told reporters that he believes the inclusion of “under God” runs afoul of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. He summed up his press briefing by challenging congress to create a new pledge that more accurately reflects America’s values.
“I am willing to rescind my decision here today and allow the Pledge of Allegiance back into the schools if we can all agree on the creation of a new Pledge, something that is includes everyone’s beliefs and not just the belief of one nationality or faith.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has already offered her support of president Obama’s decree and has vowed to uphold the order if she wins in November’s general election. She echoed his concerns about the pledge’s language and suggested that the pledge’s mention of God sends the wrong message to America’s children.
“I fully support the President and the decision that he has made here today. In January, when I take office as the next President of the United States, unless I see otherwise, I will do my best to uphold this new law and ensure that it stays in effect.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump did not mince words when voicing his contempt for the president’s order, referring to the president as an “illegitimate Muslim traitor.”
“As a Christian nation, the Pledge of Allegiance helps our children be the greatest children out there, the best there is, greater than all the other children in this world combined. Obama, who founded ISIS by the way, wants them not to be great, he wants them to be weak, and by banning the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools, he has proven that here today. This is the first step in many in his master plan to force Sharia law onto this great country of ours before he leaves office in January. We all must remember that this is one nation under God and not some guy and his beliefs in whatever he chooses to believe.”
Sarah Bradley, a spokeswoman for Sock It Forward, a group that provides the homeless and those less fortunate with brand new socks, told ABC News that she approves of the ban.
“When our children are forced to chant, ‘One nation under God‘, whose God are they referring to exactly?” Bradley said, “From birth, children are indoctrinated and subjected to mind control, efforts to shape them into the perfect beings that society wants them to be. The Pledge of Allegiance is just one of the many tools used in a child’s involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values.” Bradley continued, “Also, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone that has supported our cause in giving new socks to the homeless, it means so much. Please, donate what you can, every bit helps.”
“This is a great day not just for Atheists, but for all Americans who value freedom. Forcing children to pledge blind allegiance to this country and profess a belief in a God is extremely dangerous in developing young minds and amounts to little more than government mind control.”
While Executive Order 13738 is likely to be a source of heated debate among Americans, constitutional scholar, Paul Horner, told ABC News that it is unlikely the law will be challenged in court.
“Since this law only affects federal employees and contractors and not the general populace, it is well within the traditional scope of a president’s executive authority to pass this law. Any challenges would lack proper legal standing and more than like be quickly dismissed.”
Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin, a mascot for a Christian organization that travels around the country educating children about the dangers and consequences of masturbation, told ABC News he believes in what Utah is doing.
“It is important that children become the unique individuals that this country wants them to be. Conforming into the perfect little human beings that God intended them to be has always been the American way. It is important to remember that our Lord and Savior loves each and every one of us, unless we masturbate, then we’ll burn in Hell for eternity.”
Originally composed by Colonel George Balch in 1887, the Pledge of Allegiance is an expression of allegiance to the Flag of the United States and the republic of the United States of America. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945 and the last changes made to it came on Flag Day in 1954 when the words “under God” were added.
The Obama Administration has set up a 24-hour hotline to address any questions and concerns the public may have regarding the new order. The number for the hotline is (785) 273-0325.