Is Barack Obama banning the Pledge of Allegiance?
A viral news story claimed that the president had signed an executive order that "revokes the federal government's official recognition of the Pledge of Allegiance," making it illegal for a federally-funded agency to recite or encourage others to say the pledge.
But Americans looking to put their hand over their heart and salute the flag can rest assured, as the viral story is yet another hoax in a long line of stories trying to claim that Barack Obama is un-American. The report is actually one that has circulated before, but it has found new life this week. It ran on a site called ABC News.com.co, which is made to look like the legitimate news site, and claimed that anyone who dared to recite the pledge could face jail time.
"Under the new order, it is now illegal for any federally funded agency to display the pledge or for any federal employee to recite, or encourage others to recite, the pledge while on duty. This law also applies to federal contractors and other institutions that receive federal funding such as public schools. Individuals who violate this order can face fines of up to $10,000 and up to one year in federal prison.
"During the press conference, the President explained his decision was based on a personal belief that the language used in the pledge is 'divisive' and 'contrary to America's deepest held values.'"
The report included a long and fabricated quote from Obama claiming that the pledge -- and the phrase "under God" -- is inherently offensive to many Americans.
"Asking someone to pledge their allegiance to our country excludes Jehovah's Witnesses, Amish, Muslims, and many others whose religious beliefs prohibit strong displays of nationalism. By calling this 'one nation under God', we exclude the millions of hard working atheists and agnostics who call America home. By saying 'liberty and justice for all', we ignore the grievances of millions of Hispanics, African Americans and Muslims who feel they have neither liberty nor justice."
This is not the first time a viral hoax has claimed that Barack Obama is leading an assault on the Pledge of Allegiance. A report from earlier this year claimed that Obama bowed to pressure from Muslim and atheist groups to remove the phrase "under God" from the pledge and banning it from all government buildings.
The story made the rounds on social media after it was reported by a website called TD Alliance, which called itself Fox News the FB Page. The report claimed that Barack Obama struck down the "under God" phrase through an executive order, and it even included a fake quote from an Obama official."The separation of church and state outlined in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is an important founding principle of our nation. Our nation's Bill of Rights guarantees not only that the government cannot establish an official religion, but also guarantees citizens' rights to practice the religion of their choosing or no religion at all," the site quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying.
The stories come from a long line of rumors claiming that Barack Obama is quietly trying to tear apart the fabric of America. These started even before Obama won the Democratic nomination in 2008, with an email circulating claiming that he was secretly a Muslim.
The email was widely debunked as fake, but it still worked with a large section of voters. A CBS News poll (via Poliltico) taken in 2007 found that 7 percent of Americans actually believed that Obama was Muslim. That was actually higher than the 6 percent who said he was Protestant, the correct answer.
For anyone who didn't catch that the latest story was a hoax, the writers threw in a joke at the end. The report that Barack Obama had banned the Pledge of Allegiance included a phone number for people to call with "questions and concerns" about the new edict, a number that actually belonged to the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.
[Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/AP Images]