Contest Winner: How Would You Rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance?

Thank you to the over 100 entries for our “How Would You Rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance?” Contest! We read through every email and comment, and it was tough to pick the best one. Many of you made simple changes to the current Pledge, such as pledging allegiance to the Constitution instead of the flag, or emphasizing that we are “global citizens” and not just Americans. And of course, some of you preferred to do away with the Pledge altogether! We appreciate everyone taking the time to thoughtfully write a new Pledge and share their opinions.

The winner wrote the winning entry on TheHumanist.com under the name “Deborah”:

I pledge support to the Constitution of the United States of America, and shall uphold the rights and freedoms stated within it for all its citizens.
I will understand, follow, and ever work towards full equality and justice for everyone, without regard to race, gender, or personal beliefs.
I will respect myself.
I will respect others.
I will respect this world, and all other things that live upon it.
I will always seek knowledge and truth, and shall use it to benefit the world I live in.
I will remember my rights and responsibilities, and always try to live honorably and well, in this country and wherever I may go.

Thank you, Deborah! Please email senior editor Maggie Ardiente at mardiente@americanhumanist.org to claim your prize: a free book of your choice from Humanist Press!

And since there were many excellent entries, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

I pledge to be a good person, to be kind to others and to identify and appreciate the best qualities of my country.
I pledge to be loyal to the idea that all Americans are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I pledge respect for the laws of society and a willingness to help change any that do not measure up to the nation’s goals of equal opportunity, justice and due process for all.
I pledge to safeguard the absolute separation of church and state at all levels of government.
I pledge to take responsibility for my health and the quality of my life by living a healthy lifestyle on a foundation of reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty.
I pledge to always ask what I can do for my country and what together we can do for the freedom of humankind.
—Don A.

I pledge to honor the rights of all humanity without bias toward race or age or social standing or gender or sexual identity. I pledge myself to compassion for others and non-violence toward fellow creatures. I pledge to work for equal rights and general welfare of citizens of the United States of the world.
—Bruce B.

I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, symbolized by the Flag, and to the rights and responsibilities it demands.  I will be an informed and active citizen, defending those rights, and meeting those responsibilities, to ensure liberty and justice for all.
—Harry F., Fairfax, VA

I pledge allegiance to the founding Ideals of the United States of America: that all people are created equal, that we each possess the right to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness; that our government derives its power from our joint consent, freely given; and that it is the right and duty of all citizens of the United States to petition, to confront, and even to rise up against our government, should it seek to unjustly suppress these rights. I acknowledge that we, as a nation and as individuals, have not always fully embraced these Ideals for all members of our nation, and I personally commit to furthering the implementation of these Ideals to which we aspire.
—Mike F.

I pledge allegiance to the idea that all are created equal.
And to the planet on which we stand, one nation, indivisible.
With liberty and justice for all.
—Patricia H.

I pledge allegiance to my neighbors and my community, at home and throughout the world. I pledge to exercise common sense and reason, and to treat others with the respect and courtesy I wish to receive in turn. I will not turn a blind eye to injustice or bigotry. I recognize that I am an important part of a global community, and I will consider the repercussions of my actions beyond my own walls. Those who wish to have my allegiance will show their allegiance in return. At no time will I follow a direction I know to violate the principles of my pledge.
—Jordan W.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in our contest!

  • An Onymous

    This is odd. I believe my piece had the most votes. Where is it?

    • Zeno Myslevych

      your piece wasn’t a pledge… But points raised in your piece seem to be mentioned in the precursor to the list of winners

      • An Onymous

        True, I suggested kids could recite poetry instead of being forced to speak the words of a pledge. But it was a valid response to the challenge.

        • Zeno Myslevych

          i expressed the need to drop the nonsensical pledges and oaths altogether and i have no objections against any winners or mentions picked. After all it wasn’t a discussion on the topic of the need for pledges… And poetry point kinda falls into the drop the pledge category – you can never stop introducing kids to poetry no matter if it’s just patriotic or is actually written as a pledge

  • Stephen Pickering

    The United States is my home, and I would never betray it. But an oath of fealty to its flag is often simply a forced ritual to test conformity. As someone who barely escaped the fundamentalism of my upbringing, I have seen firsthand that it is impossible to prevent hypocrisy from tainting all such acts.

    • Bob

      Although the pledge does indeed speak of non-existent fantasies i.e. “liberty and justice for all”, I’ve always considered it (without the God part) to be a hope for the future.

      • Zeno Myslevych

        do away with the hope part and consider yourself aiming for the best future you could ever make to happen

    • Legion

      Further, the fact that we are forced as children (much like with religions) to do it, really smacks of indoctrination rather than a free expression of love and honor.

  • Bob

    I would just be happy to return to the pledge we said when I first went to elementary school. It didn’t mention God at all. By the way, I’m 72 and consider today’s version a step backwards.

  • Doubting Thomas

    The pledge of allegiance… because it’s only brainwashing and indoctrination when kids in other countries are coerced into reciting a loyalty oath to their country every day…

    • An Onymous

      In which other countries?

  • We have a plege that is outdated and does not speak to all Americans. After reading each of the entries printed, I feel even more grateful today than yesderday for having made the decision to join to the AHA, an organization that is home to such thoughtful, inspiring individuals who have created such powerful expressions of shared human values!

    • An Onymous

      It does not speak to all humans living in the US.

      • euroyank

        Apparently not.
        Sincerely,
        An expat who does.

  • Al Rodbell

    Ah, all worthy sentiments. Yet the problem with the Pledge of Allegiance is the structure, a common expression that is imposed by authority on citizens. We all know the words of Justice Jackson, that deemed that no orthodoxy shall be imposed on those of this country.

    We need not make any public pledge, but rather have free expression where our beliefs are part of the larger national celebration of a free society. It is the process that we must fight of compelled speech in any public venue, and trying to perfect the expression paradoxically ignores just why we must fight such a civic ceremony.