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Most want pledge in schools

Sixty-six percent of Minnesotans support bill requiring class recitation

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Most Minnesotans support legislation that would require public schools and charter schools to set aside time each week to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, a poll shows.

Sixty-six percent of Minnesotans favor the law, which is awaiting final approval in the Legislature, according to the Star Tribune Minnesota poll published in today's editions.

According to the Denver-based group Education Commission of the States, 37 states now have laws dealing with the pledge in schools, either requiring or encouraging its recitation or allowing teachers to read it or post it.

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Four states including Minnesota are considering such legislation. The Legislature passed a bill calling for recitation of the pledge last year, but it was vetoed by former Gov. Jesse Ventura, who said he considered it forced patriotism.

The bill pending in Minnesota wouldn't require students to recite the pledge. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that local authorities can't require students to recite it.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he would sign the bill.

While several states moved to adopt pledge legislation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, many poll respondents said their support for it comes from deeper, longer-held desires.

Joy Kopp of Savage, who described herself as a Republican and a conservative, likens the pledge to a common hymn or the Gettysburg Address.

Kopp said there's a shared cultural memory that draws Americans together from across experiences and generations. "I think one of the things that it does is it helps to build a sense of community among us," she said. "That's part of what the American dream is about. It's a collective 'we,' not so much an individual 'I."'

Generally, poll respondents outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area supported the pledge by a greater margin than Twin Cities residents -- 74 percent compared with 60 percent.

Older Minnesotans showed a greater desire to see the pledge in schools than younger: 83 percent of those 65 or older support the law compared with 51 percent of those ages 18 to 24. Eighty percent of those who call themselves conservatives support the pledge law, compared with 47 percent of liberals.

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Fred Thompson of Brimson said he supported and recited it every day in school in the 1950s. But he remembers being concerned about the "One nation, under God" wording that was inserted in 1954.

He was 10 at the time, and brought it up with his parents. Because of those words, he opposes the proposed law.

"I wasn't raised in a godless household," he said. "But I believed freedom of religion was personal, not something we wear on our sleeve."

The poll of 1,033 adults statewide, conducted by telephone April 25-29, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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