Battle over 'Pledge of Allegiance' in Plainfield

March 15, 2012 2:18:48 PM PDT
"The Pledge of Allegiance" is taking center stage in New Jersey.

There is controversy over whether everyone should stand during it because of one city council member's decision to stay seated.

"I think it's very interesting she's pictured here standing in front of a flag so you either support it or you don't," Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs said.

Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs doesn't like the fact the councilwoman Rebecca Williams doesn't want to say "The Pledge of Allegiance" before meetings.

Both made their positions clear at Monday's meeting.

"Excuse me council woman, you sit there every meeting and grunt your faces on the camera every meeting with this sighs. I don't know what you are speaking about and then on top of that you won't even do your "Pledge of Allegiance" so don't talk about disrespect," Robinson-Briggs said.

Councilwoman Williams was quick to respond.

"My exercising my right as a citizen to not pledge allegiance to a flag is my right as an American citizen, and for anyone to mock that I would question their allegiance to anything," Plainfield Councilwoman Rebecca Williams said.

For the councilwoman, there are two separate issues here, the prayer and the pledge.

At the beginning of each council meeting people stand and pledge allegiance to the flag, then there is a prayer.

The councilwoman says it is her right to opt out of both.

"It's one thing not to say the pledge, it's another to stand in defiance," Robinson-Briggs said.

Williams says she stands out or respect, not defiance, just like she stands for the prayer which she says has no business in City Hall.

"There are many officials who believe if you go by strict Jeffersonian interpretation there should be a separation of church and state," Williams said, "People have the right to their religion and their beliefs and I would never step on anyone's toes on that."

But the prayer remains.

Like many politicians, it seems they will have to agree to disagree.

However, Councilwoman Williams says this is about more than a pledge or a prayer.

She says it's about the misspent city funds.

"The mayor was reprimanded a month ago and has since filed suit against the entire city council," Williams said.

So it seems like most political fights this one will continue.

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