A Pennsylvania lawmaker’s refusal to lead the Pledge of Allegiance sparked an onslaught of controversy. Unlike many politicians who are criticized for making a specific statement, Democratic State Representative Babette Josephs is being chastised for what she refused to say. What began as a mundane House State Government Committee meeting took a dramatic turn when Chairman Daryl Metcalfe tapped Josephs to lead the patriotic pledge.
The routine meeting opening activity was abruptly stalled when Josephs announced her opposition to accepting the request. The Philadelphia representative had this to say about her refusal to lead the Pledge of Allegiance during the meeting:
“Based on my First Amendment rights and based on the fact that I really think it’s a prayer. I don’t pray in public.”
The awkward and somewhat startling incident ended as quickly as it began when the Republican chairman from Butler simply called on another committee member to lead the pledge, according to WHTM 27 ABC News. Josephs noted after the meeting that Congress chose to insert “under God” into the pledge when she was about 14 years old. The Democratic politician maintains that the additional wording turned the patriotic statement of allegiance into a prayer, WPXI notes.
Babette Josephs had this to say about the incident about the committee meeting:
“How many years ago was 1954? I have not said the Pledge of Allegiance since and I will not say it into the future unless they take those words out and make it less of a prayer. Especially if you’re in elective office and you’re invoking the name of God all the time; to me it’s the height of hypocrisy. I will not do it.”
Metcalfe readily conceded that Josephs’ has the right not to say the pledge but personally feels it is wrong. He noted during an interview with WHTM that he was shocked that an elected official would not pledge allegiance to the flag. Josephs’ lost her primary bid in April and will soon end her 28-year career as a lawmaker.