On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Councilman Mike Clark

The city council in Eugene, Oregon, has voted down a proposal to say the Pledge of Allegiance before every council meeting.

One council member who voted for the ban said reading the pledge was like reading the Communist Manifesto before every meeting.

Including the Pledge into the opening of every meeting was proposed by Councilman Mike Clark.

It was voted down, but a compromise was passed that seemed to please nobody — an agreement to recite the pledge at Eugene City Council meetings coinciding with the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Flag Day.

In the same meeting, council members also voted against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Councilman George Brown voted against the Pledge compromise, saying the Pledge of Allegiance had no place at City Hall. “People can say it in their front yard or backyard,” Brown says. “It does not unite us.”

Councilman Clark, who wanted the Pledge to be recited before each council session, says all he just wanted to do was to unite the council and show that in his city — which brags of celebrating diversity — that the city council values traditional values as a part of that diversity.

“Clark said part of his motivation was to respond to constituents who often cite the fact that some Eugene traditions — namely, the eccentric Eugene Celebration in late summer — do not sit well with some residents but are nonetheless tolerated,” reported Stefan Verbano for the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper.

School children reciting pledge

“Tolerating differences is an important part of the community that we live in,” Clark said. Observing the Pledge, he said has “become an issue of tolerance.”

Brown disagreed.

“This whole notion that we need something for the ‘not-weird’ seems very weird to me,” he said.

The council also voted 7-1 to endorse a resolution “expressing the City Council’s desire that funds to continue the Iraq and Afghanistan wars be directed to domestic priorities, including the pressing needs in the city of Eugene.”

The Pledge issue surfaced several weeks ago when Clark recommended that the pledge be recited at the start of the city’s twice-monthly council meetings — 24 times annually. The compromise will see the Pledge observed four times annually.

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