Pledge of Allegiance 'Robocall' Riles State Lawmaker

A Wednesday call accuses State Rep. Vicki Barnett of voting against a bill requiring the Pledge of Allegiance in schools because it contains the word "God".

A robocall making the rounds in the Farmington area Wednesday accused State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District) of voting against a bill to require the pledge of allegiance in Michigan schools because it includes the word "God".

Patch readers who reported receiving the call said it did not include any information that would identify the responsible group or individual. Barnett's challenger, Republican Bruce Lilley, said the call did not come from his campaign. 

Barnett, who vehemently denies the allegation, said she voted on principle against two House bills that would require schools to display a flag in every public school classroom and to ensure that every student has the opportunity to recite the Pledge every school day. Previously passed by the state Senate, the pledge bill is now on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk. 

Pointing out that she says the pledge before every session, Barnett said the words are "too important to be reduced to a bumper sticker". 

"I support children saying the pledge, I support having the flag in classrooms. They represent the values we hold dear as a nation," Barnett said. "My vote was in opposition to the exploitation of these symbols, primarily for political gain." 

Barnett's opponent, Lilley of Farmington, said his campaign has not done any robocalling. He said if the House bill was a political ploy, "I agree we don't need to use our children or the venue our children occupy as a bludgeon." 

Lilley added that he doesn't know whether there is a problem with schools not offering students the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But no matter what the issue, he's not a fan of robocalls.

"There's got to be more effective ways to talk to people," he said, adding he is known among his friends for being a "letter guy". "I just feel like we've lost touch."

Barnett said she has been the target of other anonymous, "slanderous" robocalls this campaign season. She sees them as a way to avoid dealing with real issues, but this one went over the top. 

"I was on the path to becoming a rabbi, I taught religious school for many years," she said. "Questioning my faith is beyond the pale and should be out of bounds."

Chris Greig September 14, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I was appalled when I received the robocall. It was also very cowardly to not include who was behind it. Lawmakers need to focus on important education issues like adequate and equitable school funding.
Cheryl Shah September 14, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I don't care what the words are - I have a huge problem with the whole idea of a law that requires my kids (or anyone else) to say them. That it's the pledge just makes it worse. What is allegiance worth if it isn't your choice to pledge it?
Darren Whittaker September 15, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Amen, Cheryl. Amen.
Joe Duffy September 20, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I don't know why Vickie would be one of only 5 who did not support the bill. By virtue of the Senate AND the House voting on it insinuates there may be a problem. I received the call too and there was no mention of God in the call I received. Our kids do not inherit respect the are taught it in the classroom where they recite the pledge.
sandy October 05, 2012 at 04:43 AM
agreed 100%. There are no good excuses for not supporting a bill that would require the pledge. Voting against that bill means there is no assurance the pledge will be said, And often today it is not. I, too, am offended that Vicki is offended by that. Shame.


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