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Pledging Allegiance

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Letter from Billy Gobitas to...
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Letter from Billy Gobitas to Minersville, Pennsylvania, school directors, November 5, 1935

In 1935 a Pennsylvania public school expelled 10-year-old Billy Gobitas for refusing to salute the American flag. His letter to the school board explained that as a Jehovah’s Witness he believed pledging allegiance to the flag violated his commitment to God. In 1943 the Supreme Court upheld the right not to recite the pledge on religious principle.

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I do not salute the flag because I have promised to do the will of God. That means that I must not worship anything out of harmony with God’s law.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress