The Arizona Republic
Councilman refuses to stand for Pledge of Allegiance
Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:46">

Councilman refuses to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

Gary Nelson
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 23, 2007 12:00 AM

Mesa City Councilman Tom Rawles refused to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance before Monday night's council meeting to protest American involvement in what he calls an Iraqi civil war.

"If you're not willing to stand up for what you believe, you don't belong in politics," Rawles said before the meeting.

Rawles, a longtime politician, told Mayor Keno Hawker of his intention before the meeting but surprised the other five council members with an announcement during a study session before the meeting.

"Although I love my country and respect our flag, this is my way of protesting America's continuing involvement in the civil war in Iraq," he said in a written statement hours before the meeting.

Rawles stood as a Mesa clergyman prayed before the meeting, then sat down in silence as fellow council members and the audience recited their loyalty to the flag.

The war in Iraq is expected to be a major topic during President Bush's State of the Union speech tonight.

Rawles said he has been thinking about making such a protest for about five months. But he wanted to see how the congressional elections and Bush's reaction to the Iraq Study Group report played out before making a public protest.

Rawles said he favored the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, predicated on Bush's assertion that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and posed a threat to the United States.

"I didn't have a problem with going into war," he said. But "that's not what we're doing now. Now we're into nation-building and acting as a policeman in a bloody civil war. That's the part that bothers me."

He said he believes "the vast majority of the American people agree with me" and hopes for a groundswell that will move the president and Congress to call U.S. troops home.

He will refrain from saying the Pledge until either that happens or he is no longer in public office.

Rawles, who represents southwest Mesa's District 3, took office in June 2004. He is a Libertarian, though council seats are nonpartisan. He served on the Maricopa Board of Supervisors from 1993-97, is a lawyer for Johnson Stewart Co. and was chief of staff for U.S. Rep. John Rhodes III from 1987-89.

The Pledge has often figured in American political and religious controversies.

Shortly before U.S. involvement in World War II, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld laws requiring schoolchildren to say the Pledge, even if their religious convictions forbade it.

The high court reversed itself three years later, on Flag Day, June 14, 1943. In that ruling, Justice Robert Jackson wrote, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion."

In recent years, California atheist Michael Newdow made headlines with his efforts to have the Pledge declared unconstitutional because it includes the words "under God," which he views as a violation of the separation of church and state.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Newdow in a ruling issued on Flag Day 2004, 50 years to the day after Congress added "under God" to the Pledge.

But the court's ruling centered on whether Newdow had legal standing to bring suit in the matter, and did not address the constitutional question itself.

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Patriots are subjected to much ridicule when they object to [Admiralty flag] the flag that appears in every government office and courtroom in the land.
That flag is the United States flag... with one seemingly minor cosmetic
difference - a knotted golden fringe on three sides.

Government officials and judges adamantly refuse requests to remove the gold fringed flag and replace it with the constitutional flag of the United States as defined in 4 U.S.C. Section 1,2, and 3 - which has NO fringe.

Why should anyone be concerned about this apparently innocent decorative feature? What difference does it make?

Fringe On The U.S. Flag What Does It Mean?

What Does The Gold-Fringed Flag Signify?

It is commonplace to see a gold-fringed United States flag standing in the
present-day courtrooms. Is the gold fringe there for decoration only, or
does it signify a certain jurisdiction? Make no mistake about it -- the
American People have been put on notice that the normal constitutional
functions of government have been suspended and that their Land has been placed under martial law. The information below is not by any means exhaustive, but will at least point the reader in the right direction to do additional research on his own.

Pursuant to the "Law of the Flag," a military flag does result in
jurisdictional implications when flown
(Ruhstrat v. People, 57 N.E. 41, 45, 185 Ill. 133, 49 LRA 181, 76 Am).

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