Story at a glance

  • The mayor of a Colorado town announced that the Pledge of Allegiance will no longer be recited at the start of town meetings.
  • He cited threats, inappropriate comments and "general divisiveness" for the decision.
  • Some members of the board took offense to the decision and protested at the meeting.

The minutes for Silverton's Board of Trustee meetings, held at the town hall, usually read at the top: "Call to Order, Roll Call & Pledge of Allegiance." But on June 14, Flag Day, Mayor Shane Fuhrman announced that the meeting would no longer open with the pledge, reported a local news outlet.  

"Due to direct and indirect threats, inappropriate comments in and out of public meetings, and the general divisiveness this is creating in our community, we will not be doing the Pledge of Allegiance during town of Silverton board of trustee meetings," said Fuhrman, who has not publicly commented on the matter. "And it’s removed from agendas and our protocols until such time that we can discuss this at a board retreat or workshop."


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The pledge, created by a Civil War veteran and then modified by a Christian minister, was adopted after World War II, when the Supreme Court ruled that students could be compelled to swear the pledge in public schools. Just three years later, the Supreme Court reversed its decision and in 2004, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals held that students are also not required to stand for the pledge. Outside of schools, however, the pledge is still recited at many official and governmental meetings and events, despite criticism — especially of the religious association and the phrase “under God.”

Last year, the Denver School Board stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance when meetings began being held remotely due to COVID-19, instead opening with other rituals, and said it would revisit the topic after resuming in person meetings. In Silverton, where meetings were also shifted online during the pandemic, Fuhrman reportedly proposed dispensing with the pledge in 2020, saying "it's not really a thing," Silverton Trustee Molly Barela told KDVR, but was outvoted. Since then, he and a couple other members have sat out the pledge. 


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Now, the board meets in a hybrid virtual and in-person format, and the agenda for subsequent meetings hasn’t included the pledge — much to the chagrin of Barela and a handful of others who protested the decision at the June 14 meeting. 

"I personally didn’t like his unilateral decision, when we as a collective group had already decided over a year ago to continue to do the pledge," said Barela. 

It’s not clear what threats or comments the mayor was referencing, but the backlash suggests a strong divide in the community. In 2018, a Silverton resident verbally attacked a former trustee member who did not stand during the pledge, reported the Durango Herald, and came close to charges of harassment and menacing. The immediate response to Fuhrman’s announcement didn’t cross that line, with attendees choosing instead to recite the pledge during the public comment period, but the mayor wasn’t pleased, calling them "out of order" and warning against any other disruptions.  


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Published on Jun 23, 2021