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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 (32)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

2 people like this
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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2 people like this
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!

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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.

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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?

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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".

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

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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 play baseball. Now if that god is WIliie Mays, then maybe he's onto something...

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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!

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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.

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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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Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2014 at 3:24 pm

My son and I begin the on-field pledge with "I trust my dog..." No one seems to mind.

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Posted by OK then
a resident of Jackson Park
on May 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm

They can trade off. Next week they can pledge to Allah. It does not specify which god, and lord knows(pun intended) there are a gaggle of those gods to suit any need or purpose one desires. How about changing it to "MY god" instead?
Remember, "God" does not equal Christian God. Whenever I hear someone talking about god, I sometimes will ask them to specify which particular god they are talking about. Its funny to see the reaction when you do that ;)

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Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Just opt out... Or go join some other league that is more within your beliefs. There are several baseball leagues and if none of thier pledges suit you you can join a club/travel team. This is a free country, if you do not like the rules and regulations just take your ball and go somewhere else

Money has the word God on it... Just don't carry cash anymore. Big brother is turning us into a cashless society, I am pretty sure you can just use credit cards after all city bank won't make you pledge to god to use the card.

It is common practice to opt out of the pledge of alligence at school if your child doesn't want to recite it... What is the difference?

You mention that professional sport like baseball don't have any mention of god. Do you want to outlaw the singing of god bless americia during the 7th inning stretch? Or just leave in the middle of the game so you won't be subjected to hearing it? There are even invocations before Nascar races I don't hear any complaints from the professionals about that.

Like I said before... If you do not like the policies of a private organization you can either opt out of the pledge or go play somewhere else that isn't as offensive to you. It is a free country

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Posted by Elan C
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2014 at 9:07 pm

My son just finished Little League due to age. I'm proud to say he was on his All Stars team every year and went to TOC's...which is awesome, but it meant I've had to endure the horrible pledge so many times. It makes my son feel uncomfortable and me as well. The person who says "join another league" doesn't get it! Yes, there are many leagues and opportunities to play, but of all of them Little League is specifically supposed to be for everyone, in the same way that public school is. In the same manner that God doesn't belong in public schools, he/she also does not belong in Little League. A player can cross themselves, pray, or whatever they feel appropriate, but to force all of the children to say the horrible pledge is simply wrong. I love Little League, it's been a huge part of my family....I think it's important enough to get rid of this outdated pledge that may have seemed suitable in 1955 but not in 2014.

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Posted by Pledge
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

Saying the pledge is not proclaiming your faith in God. If you believe that you either failed literature class or are missing the point on purpose. Proclaiming religion is not the main idea. There is one line in the pledge that mentions god. If you have issue with that ( I don't and I am not religious) then come up with an alternate line and start there. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

No one is pledging to God. The pledge is no where near asking anyone to trust in God. Please read the pledge, you are pledging your commitment to country, your pledging your commitment to the values of freedom and justice for all. If you do not like under God, change that line or just leave it out altogether. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It's not hard.

We are a land if immigrants which is why we pledge our allegiance to the flag. This is our commitment to our new country, not the one we just left, our culture or our religion.

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Posted by Erik
a resident of another community
on Aug 1, 2014 at 8:49 am

They are a private non profit group. They can legally do this if they want to. If parents have a problem with it they can find another league. YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, recreation center leagues, are out there. Join those. You forcing the organization to change its pledge and its beliefs, is the same them forcing you to say it. Liberals are only tolerant as long as you agree with them.

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Posted by Coach K
a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2014 at 1:33 am

If you don't agree with the little league Oath then don't let your child play for the little league it's as easy as that! They're an organization that believes in God and Country, something the U.S. Is losing touch with! 70 years ago this great country believed in itself and stood strong and no one complained about saying the word GOD! I'm no great Christian by any means but if the belief in a greater being regardless of what you consider that may be in which the word GOD would then represent would make this country stronger (as we are slowly collapsing if you haven't noticed) than so be it! We Americans need to get back to the root of being a great country / team and on the same sheet of music. You guys doing all this bitching about God and religion in this country have nothing better to birch about! How about bitching about why our government is taking billions of our tax dollars to pay for welfare, food stamps and social security to illegal Aliens! Wake up America it's time we stand together regardless of your beliefs and bring this nation back together as a whole. Quit bitching about the rights of one organization..... Freedom of speech is your right as it is for the Little League! If you can't stomach there beliefs..... Easy put um in a non American Sport and leave Baseball to Americans! In GOD we trust!!!!
Sorry for venting,
Proud American
Proud little league baseball/ Softball coach
And Proud U.S.Army Vet of 18 years and going !

Love of Country

6 people like this
Posted by Coach D
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

All of you guys are over reacting. Maybe you have too much time on your hands or you just sit around looking for things to complain about.

I am not a religious person. But, my kids have played sports for churches where they pray before each game. I accept that. It's their organization and it actually is very well run and I'd rather my kids play there than in the city league.

If I didn't want my kids exposed to religious stuff then I would simply pull them out. BUT I DONT F***ing care. Religion is something he'll have to decide on by himself. Reciting a line at the start of a baseball season once a year does not make my kid religious. Eating Thai food once a week doesn't make him Thai. He'll grow up and make a decision for himself! If you're that paranoid and afraid, pull your kid out. But I'm telling you, he'll have bigger issues with your parenting skills (or the lack of). He'll probably end up being the most closed minded person among his friends. Intolerance? Close minded?

Relax. LL has a tradition and it's been this way before you were even born. Don't like it? Start your own league and do it your way.

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Posted by Enough Already
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2015 at 9:51 pm

When will this country pull it's head out of the 1950s? I went to my son's league tournament tonight and heard this insulting "pledge" for the first time. What a way to diminish the meaning of the whole statement, starting it out with pure gibberish.

I'll let my son play in the league, because it's his community of friends. But I won't be putting any money when they "pass the plate" until they get out of the Middle Ages, culturally.

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Posted by One true God
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2015 at 7:09 am

By "God" they mean Allah. That's what we taught our children. Anytime they talk about "God" they are talking about the one true god, Allah.
I stand with those who have no problem with it. We trust in God. Praise be to Allah.

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Posted by shane
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:31 am

I think possibly Your confusing Little league baseball with the little league world series<
Oddly! I never make a stand for such a topic. but where your wrong is!! The world series Stadium Is completely funded with raised Money and free to all that participate. Kind of like a Church or Independent Party.
So when your someones guest at their Dinner Table you close Your eyes, Grit your teeth and say Thank you..

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Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Most Little League affiliates that I have seen do not recite the Little League pledge before games. Perhaps MVLL is stuck in another era.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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