Denver School Takes God out of Pledge of Allegiance

A Denver school guidance counselor created an uproar when she took the phrase “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Altered Pledge of Allegiance stuns students (Washington Times)

The students in Vincent Pulciani’s seventh-grade class were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance this week when they heard the voice over the intercom say something they’d never heard before, at least not during the Pledge. Instead of “one nation, under God,” the voice said, “one nation, under your belief system.”


Margo Lucero, the eighth-grade guidance counselor at the school, substituted the phrase “under your belief system” as she led the recitation of the Pledge on Wednesday. After irate phone calls poured in from parents, Principal Kathleen Norton, who normally leads the Pledge but was out of the building at the time, apologized to students Thursday and sent home letters of apology yesterday.


Meanwhile, Jefferson County School District spokesman Rick Kaufman was engaged in damage control, describing Miss Lucero’s decision to rewrite the Pledge as “inappropriate” and stressing that she had acted independently, without consulting the district or other school officials.

Mr. Kaufman said Miss Lucero had been spurred by the date, April 20, the sixth anniversary of the Columbine High School slayings. Both Columbine and Everitt are within the Jefferson County school district. “The day was the sixth anniversary of Columbine, and she felt she should be all-inclusive, so she replaced the word ‘God,'” he said.

Obviously, re-writing the Pledge is outside the purview of a school guidance counselor. Of course, the idea that a national patriotic ritual should include phraseology that’s offensive to a substantial number of Americans is rather bizarre to begin with.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Nancy Hahn says:

    I am a teacher at Everitt Middle School. As you would expect the school was a little more stressful than a normal Friday full of 7th and 8th graders on the 22nd. Regardless of individual feelings about Ms. Lucero and the Pledge a parking lot ull of news vans was difficult. Our teachers responded with compassion and dignity and our students discussed and considered the issue in the spirit of inquiry that we encourage. Articles from Denver papers were read at student lunches. Students read the news in my Language Arts classroom as well. Students talked, were confused about what to think, attempted to define for themselves ‘the sides’ or the reasons for the ‘big deal’. One student summed up what I believe many students felt, “I don’t know how I feel about what Ms. Lucero said, but I know I will never think of the Pledge as just some words we say anymore. I never knew how much a few words can mean.”

    Outside my door, directly across from the office, is a life-size silhouette of a person saying the Pledge. Over his head are President Bush’s words about 9-11, “On that day… we acted as a single hand over a single heart.” On the silhouette in a continually growing display are newspaper stories and memorabilia about people who reach out to others. It includes many mentions of student activities including a letter from Denver Rescue Mission that thanks the school for the annual competition between staff and students to raise the most money for the mission. Around the figure are student reflections about their American Dreams. Everitt Middle School believes in the values that build character in our students, reach out into the community and, ultimately, strengthen America.

    Margo Lucero said something on the spur of the moment that turned out to be an inappropriate choice in retrospect. We have ALL done that, but usually it doesn’t make the national news. I hope in the rush the tremendous contribution she makes to the community by her dedication to her job and her amazing impact on the students she has worked with will not be overlooked. She is an AWESOME counselor and a valued member of our staff.

  2. Carol says:

    My question is why are we censoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved adding the words in 1954 “under God”. As he authorized this change he said: “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.

  3. lt bell says:

    the insidious creep of religion into every aspect of daily life is the problem here,

    so what if eisenhower put “under God” in the pledge. He did it so he could score some of the religious vote , exactly as does Bush, he pimps
    god to the biggest “falwell” and sells anyones god as if it were a used car.
    there are thousands of tax free churches in this country living off the government subsidy – keep your religions where they belong, at your witch doctor’s temple.

  4. Don Kirk says:

    Of course, the phrase “under God” also is phraseology that is offensive to a substantial number of Americans and that, too, could be construed as “rather bizarre.”

    The Bill of Rights exists to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. It is sad and very frightening that those on the right want to compel others to believe as they believe.

    And it was Congress, in 1954, which added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge which had existed for years without it. The purpose was to differentiate the god-fearing United States from godless communism — a meaningless battle in the Cold War.

    Eisenhower merely signed the legislation. He did not promote it.

  5. Neo says:

    I guess this means the students can now refer to their “teacher” as “rabbi”.

  6. McGehee says:

    Of course, the phrase “under God” also is phraseology that is offensive to a substantial number of Americans and that, too, could be construed as “rather bizarre.”

    I agree. I find it very bizarre that anyone finds those words offensive. Allegedly, we teach our children about tolerance — yet all too often people are offended by expressions of belief other than their own. Especially if the beliefs being expressed, involve the existence of God.

    Taking offense means being intolerant. Is intolerance of other people’s beliefs okay when the other people believe in God?

  7. art zaragoza says:

    I don’t believe religion belongs in government discourse or in public schools. But as long as it is becomming more so, lets promote the real Jesus Christ, the Black one.

  8. whatever says:

    What about “In God We Trust” in our money? Everyone who is offended by this send your money to me. It doesn’t bother me at all.

    I find the phrase “the insidious creep of religion” interesting.

    The phrase has been in the pledge for half a century or so. That is an “insidious creep”? I think the issue is the insidious creep of anti-relious bigotry in this country, and I say that as someone who isn’t religious.

  9. Another commenter wrote:
    “It is sad and very frightening that those on the right want to compel others to believe as they believe.”

    What a silly comment. Those on the left want to impose their values at least as much as those on the right do.

    James Joyner’s comment was a little odd too:
    “…the idea that a national patriotic ritual should include phraseology that’s offensive to a substantial number of Americans is rather bizarre to begin with.”

    First, where’s the evidence that any substantial number of Americans objects to the phrase “under God”?

    Citing any sort of pledge of allegiance to the country is offensive to some. Seeing an American flag is offensive to some. We might as well put the Declaration of Independence in a paper shredder, the idea it’s “self evident” that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” is offensive to some.

    God, and more specifically the Judeo-Christian tradition has been part of American public life since it’s beginning. (Read George Washington’s 1st inaugural address, for example.) We are under no obligation to ignore that fact because some may find it offensive.

  10. Heidi K says:

    I am a student at Everitt, and this incident has been blown WAY out of proportion! When i heard her say “under your belief system” i thought it was great! By saying that, she included everyone, every religion, and every belief. That includes God, so how in the world could anyone be offended? It is embracing everyone, not just focusing on one religion like the Pledge of Allegaince does right now. It is actually against our first amendment rights, and what Ms. Lucero did was not.

  11. disgusted says:

    Where is the evidence that a substantial number of US Citizens object to religion? Right here.

    Be careful on your use of “substantial”. These days “substantial” can mean as little as 312 people to be affected by something in order for a legislative act to be written and made into law.
    It has been done.

    In god we trust? I dont think so. What god, which one? Get it off of the money, get it out of the government, get it out of the schools. Get it out of the presidents and any other official’s vocabulary. Stop subsidizing churches. Stop enabling the american people to behave like sheep.

    Why do all of these pulpit thumpers automatically assume that everyone believes in a god. When someone asks you if you believe in god, ask them “which one?” You should see the look on their faces.

    These supposed god fearing sky pilot people preach goodness and forgiveness? Yeah, right. Try being an atheist and a smoker and have a conversation with some bible banger. Quick as a wink, they turn mean and insulting. i truly feel sorry for them, they cannot think for themselves, cannot or will not rely on themselves and think some god will and is guiding them along the path of life. Read the stats, 80% of all prisoners say they are catholic. 1% are atheists. What does that tell you? It tells you that the sheeple syndrome is alive and well in religion.