Madison high school students omit 'under God'

  • Associated Press
  • April 30, 2014 - 10:10 AM

MADISON, Wis. — A group of students at a Madison high school twice omitted the words "under God" when saying the Pledge of Allegiance recently, but the school district said the pledge is offered on a daily basis as is required by law.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday ( ) that an East High School student claimed that the pledge had not been recited daily until January 2013, and that was circulated widely among conservative media this week.

But Madison school district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the student was incorrect and the pledge has been offered on a daily basis as state law requires.

During two days in March, students reciting the pledge during morning announcements skipped the words "under God" the first day and said "under peace" the second day, Strauch-Nelson said.

"Both students were followed up with," she said.

Benji Backer, a 16-year-old who calls himself a conservative activist and columnist, published a post about the situation last week on a conservative blog. The post, which relied on information provided by a student at the school, has since been shared by more than a dozen conservative media outlets.

School board member T.J. Mertz said he supported the students who may have been acting in support of their beliefs when omitting the words. He also said he applauded Murphy for speaking up for her beliefs.

"We want our students to be self-advocating and have beliefs," Mertz said. "I support them acting on their beliefs."

It's unclear whether the students intentionally or accidentally misread the pledge, Mertz said. He said he has heard it characterized both ways.

Board president Ed Hughes said the board considered the pledge dispute to be a small, contained event that had been overblown.

The dispute comes after the school district drew national attention in 2001 when the school board voted not to offer the pledge in district schools, and then reversed its decision weeks later. The decision was in response to a new state law that required school districts to offer either the pledge or the national anthem daily.

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