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Little League should drop religious pledge, stick to baseball

Original post made on Mar 8, 2013

Where would you expect someone to ask my 11-year-old to pledge aloud, in front of hundreds of onlookers, "I trust in God"?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 8, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Audryn Lovinger, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

I completely agree. Neither a child nor an adult should be compelled to say anything about his or her relationship with God in any circumstances. That is the business of an individual and his or her Higher Power. Wasn't it Jesus who said the true believer should proclaim his faith and devotion in private? Let the kids just play ball. If there is a god, She will be watching anyway!


Posted by Jennifer Starbuck, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:22 am

I agree with Mr. Kandell 100%. I don't expect my son to declare his trust in God before sitting down at the wheel in his pottery class, or before getting in the pool at swim practice, or before breaking out lab equipment at Science Club. Little League should not be an exception. How I am raising my son and what he chooses to believe is our family's business, not something requiring public declaration before hitting the ball field.


Posted by Nicholas Adams, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

When I was a young man, religion was something that we practiced thoughtfully, with great intention and importance. One of the problems with introducing it into every single civic activity is that it cheapens true, actual religious reflection.

I think that we should reserve statements of faith for those events that allow us the time for true spiritual reflection.

Stop mob rule! Put God back in the church where He belongs.


Posted by D Rap, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:45 am

This courageous and well-written viewpoint affirms our First Amendment protections, which are sadly misunderstood by so many people. Religious freedom does not mean religious imposition, and to conflate something as innocent and clearly without a foundation in religion whatsoever as baseball with required religious speech is unthinkable. The premise behind one of the strongest and most potent parts of the First Amendment is separation of church and state. Adults continue to amaze me in how they spoil the development of children in this regard while claiming innocent religious observance. Religious freedom does not have to include imposing one's religion upon another rather insensitively and relentlessly. Throwing, fielding, hitting, running. That ought to be the focus of adults associated with Little League. Instead, compelling fealty to a religious view and then offering the lovely, "just change the channel or don't participate if you don't like the programming" response lacks a basic understanding of civics and emphasizes exclusion, not inclusion, exactly why protections are needed for our rights. In today's SF Chronicle, a letter writer takes an infamously untalented columnist to task for her blindly ridiculous stance that the majority of voters should affirm rights. In that writer's world, a majority of voters should be given power to decide things like interracial marriage, slavery's legality, and equal protection. The comparison to the issue raised in this thread is this: Rights are called rights for a reason. The second of these two letter writers observes this making the comment that, "Civil Rights exist apart from how one might feel about them." What an interesting view. Accepting that these 11 year old youths simply want to play baseball free from adult interference ought to be the focus, not the imposition of one groups's religious beliefs. We live in a constitutional republic, whose protections are "to safeguard the rights of the few from the rights of the many" to quote one of those letter writers, Cliff Baker. I think that any adult that forces a child to declare trust in God before donning a Little League uniform is so misguided as to not be in a position to serve youth. Thanks to this writer who points out the injustice of blind, forced indoctrination of religion in the lives of those who do not wish it imposed upon them. It's not the cross that worries me, it's the double cross.


Posted by E A, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

Nail. On. The. Head. Agree completely. Can we please just let kids play the game?


Posted by Observer, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

Big deal. Who cares. Stop using money that says "In God We Trust" if you are so terribly upset.

Great way to teach your kid to be hyper sensitive. He has the right just to stand silently and say nothing. Did you leave that part out?

Next thing you will object to is the national anthem being played at major league baseball games. Or flags on the shoulders of uniforms.


Posted by Carrie Faust, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 8:43 am

Absolutely! Well said, sir.

I am a Christian. My daughters are Christians. We attend church every Sunday and enjoy Vacation Bible School, family prayer and youth group. We love God, and are proud of who we are through Him.

My girls participate in many activities through school and the community. Softball, gymnastics, basketball, music lessons, National Junior Honor Society and more. Never once have they been asked to proclaim their faith under the duress of exclusion from the activity.

How awful it must feel for our kids of other faiths - or with no faith affiliation - to have to either show maturity beyond their years and opt out of the practice (at the risk of ridicule by their peers) or to go against their own beliefs and utter words that are against their fiber in order to participate in a sport they love.

In an attempt to assimilate the youngest of our country to the faith of the masses, the MVLL has managed to go completely against the teachings of Christ, who loves all.

This is an archaic and inappropriate practice. Kudos to you, sir, for questioning this systemic form ofdiscrimination. I hope that your column will turn the hearts of the MVLL and encourage them to make a positive change for all participants.


Posted by Sarah Pearce, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

Just wanted to add my voice to the (hopefully growing) chorus of support. There's no reason to implicate religious difference in an activity that has nothing to do with religion or with religious sameness or difference amongst members of a community. There's no reason that a kid should have to feel different or be reminded that he's in the minority in order to play sports.

An earlier commenter's conflation of the American flag on baseball uniforms or the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, which, crucially, doesn't mention God in the first stanza that is the only one that is ever sung and that is commonly referred to as the national anthem, illustrates exactly what the problem is: If you conflate faith in God or faith in God according to one religious tradition with Americanness itself you exclude from national life a lot of people who are and proudly consider themselves to be Americans.


Posted by D Rap, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 9:21 am

To the unfortunate soul who said this..."Next thing you will object to is the national anthem being played at major league baseball games. Or flags on the shoulders of uniforms."

Thank god, but God ain't in the National Anthem...Soldiers don't swear allegiance to God.. They swear allegiance to the Constitution.

How would you like to be told to stand aside and not participate in something you want to because somebody completely unrelated to you tells you not to? That reeks of injustice, the kind we send troops across the world to fight against.



Posted by Alex Kass, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

Having kids who come out to play baseball pledge that they believe in God is ridiculous; if the pledge means anything, then it's offensive to make kids that don't share the belief recite it. If it doesn't mean anything, then it belittles religion to put it in there, and incidentally, it undermines the other parts of the pledge, such as the promise to play fair, that are important to the LL mission.

Let's respect each other by keeping religion out of non-religious activities. That's the best way to respect our respective religions and the non-religious alike, and the best way to highlight the sportsmanship parts of the pledge that really do apply.


Posted by Strike 3, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 10:23 am

All little leagues can opt out of even reciting the oath. The board of directors can vote to do this should there be enough support from parents.
Little league HQ even says it's up to the local leagues as to whether they want to use it.
Other Bay Area little leagues have done so according to the article. Which ones?
At the very least, Mountain View LL should note on their website what the oath is or provide a link to the oath. I'm not opposed to them keeping it but they should provide full disclosure so parents can make informed decisions.


Posted by Hillary M, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 11:19 am

I agree whole heartedly! It doesn't belong at Little League games. I also believe "under God" should not be part of the Pledge of Allegiance as it wasn't in the original Pledge and only added in 1954. Always stand up for what you believe!


Posted by Donald F, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

Well argued. Also, consider this: If you take an oath, you are affirming that you believe everything you are swearing to.

Thus, if you declare "I trust in God," but you do not, you are guilty of lying.

Encouraging children to lie for the sake of expediency does nothing to strengthen either their sense of honesty or sincerity. In fact, it encourages hypocrisy.


Posted by Ridiculous, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I have no problem that you are apparently secular. But that does not give you the right to try to exterminate any display of religion — no matter how minor or ceremonial — from our public life.

A few questions: Is anyone forcing your son to say the words if he objects to them? Can't he just say the rest of the pledge?

Little League is a private organization, and is legally allowed to have players say whatever it wants. Paul, are you now going to write an op-ed complaining that we have "in god we trust" on our coins?

The Supreme Court held in Elk Grove School District v. Newdow that the phrase "one nation under God" (said in public schools) is a "ceremonial" statement that has lost any religious content. And you're this hysterical because God is mentioned at a private event?


Posted by E Bloom, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm

God Bless, that we live in a country that allows, even encourages us to speak out against arbitrary use of power--it is our duty as red blooded citizens to encourage those like the author of this column to share his thoughts on how we can allow our kids to "just play ball".


Posted by D Rap, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Ridiculous...you picked the right name for this forum. Exterminate any display of religion? What planet do you live on? When are we NOT displaying religion is a better question. Were the words always on our money? No. Were the words always in the Pledge of Allegiance? No. Have you read Jefferson's Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom? Uhhhh...I seriously doubt it. I re-name you the Debra J. Saunders Award Winning Ridiculous Community Contributor. So glad you "don't have a problem" with anyone's secular feelings....jeez...or is it Jesus....?


Posted by D Rap, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Firstly, you know nothing about my religion, so your ignorance speaks to your bias and prejudice about only approving your personal freedom of religion. It is others' freedom you have a tougher time with I see.

I recently visited Jefferson's little ink stained desk where he wrote the Declaration, which was a statement opposing tyranny by the British. I stand in opposition to your tyrannical remark that implies that someone without religion is less than someone with religion. I support your right to say these things, but laugh out loud at your ridiculous views.

You think an 11 year old shortstop should have to pledge allegiance to god...to play baseball. Now if that god is WIliie Mays, then maybe he's onto something...


Posted by Congregation Prez, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm

In the heart of the technological revolution that shrunk the world and brought down dictators, having to recite ANYTHING as arbitrary as "I trust in God" is uncalled for.
There are lots of times and places for religion. The ball field is not one of them.
Bravo, Mr. Kandell!


Posted by Amin Heydarpour, a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I agree with you Paul 100%! Thanks for writing this article. The sad part is that not a single MVLL board member thought differently. And here we are in the heart of Silicon Valley (with the most diverse population) in 21st century.


Posted by Kevin Walsh, a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2013 at 4:30 am

Requiring other people anywhere to publicly declare support for your beliefs (or publicly declare non-support via non-participation) makes you look a bit silly at the best of times.

In this case I'd wager that the genuine faith and feeling that makes 'trust in God' important and meaningful to many involved in the league and surrounding community (and surely there is also an understandable urge to honor the beliefs and world-view of those who set up the original ceremony, no?) it will on close inspection turn out to have nothing to do with whether a bunch of ten-year-olds standing by the side of a diamond with mitts in hand mumble words to that effect or not.

That is to say, trusting in God is a personal, moment-to-moment thing that requires nothing of anyone else.

So while I heartily support MVLL's right to do as they wish with this ceremony (there being no legality against it) my own deep faith in the goodness and wisdom of all of God's wonderfully diverse creations with their myriad of religions, beliefs and non-beliefs leaves me hoping they'll give this pledge a rest.


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