Having the Pledge of Allegiance be part of every Decorah City Council agenda was debated by the Decorah City Council Monday night.

The Council is in the process of updating Council policies and procedures.

Council member Julie Fischer questioned why the meetings begin with the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It seems to be rather narrow. To me, I was wondering if we could expand it to the Earth," she said.

She read the pledge she would add:

"I pledge allegiance to the Earth and all the life which it supports. One planet, in our care, irreplaceable, with sustenance and respect for all."

Fischer said Decorah residents are aware of the impact of their actions on the Earth and are trying to use less energy and be more conscious of what they do.

"I want to pledge to my country, but I definitely also want to pledge to the planet," Fischer said.

She suggested the Council members read her pledge and consider adding it.


Council member Rachel Vagts said she wasn't comfortable having the Pledge required by city policy.

"It feels more like public prayer ... I'm not saying we need to get rid of it. I'm not sure it should be part of Council policy," she said.

Mayor Don Arendt, who initiated saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting about two years ago, said it should be said prior to any public meeting in this country.

"It shows a fundamental regard for our country. I don't understand your concept at all," he said to Vagts.

Vagts responded it should be the mayor's choice to make, not official policy. She said that's why she doesn't object to saying the Pledge before every meeting.

"As the person who runs the meeting, I understand and respect your opinion," she said.

Council member Carolyn Corbin asked if removing the Pledge would be included with other policy revisions that will be made before the Council considers the updated policy for adoption.

Council member Paul Wanless said the proposed policy states the meetings will "generally" begin with a roll call vote and the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It is a guideline, it isn't mandated," Corbin concluded.