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One Witness was beaten unconscious, and those who fled were cornered by ax- and knife-wielding men riding the town’s fire truck as someone yelled, “Get the ropes! ” In Kennebunk, Maine, the Witnesses’ gathering place, Kingdom Hall, was ransacked and torched, and days of rioting ensued.
In Litchfield, Ill., an angry crowd spread an American flag on the hood of a car and watched while a man repeatedly smashed the head of a Witness upon it.
The steadfast refusal of Witnesses to pledge, combined with their refusal to serve in the military or to support America’s war effort in any way, triggered public anger.
Witnesses soon became a ubiquitous presence in courtrooms across the country.
They stood, held their right hands over their hearts or in a raised-arm salute and began, “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” To most Americans the pledge was a solemn affirmation of national unity, especially at a time when millions of U. They insisted that pledging allegiance to the flag was a form of idolatry akin to the worship of graven images prohibited by the Bible. Barnette, Walter Barnett (whose surname was misspelled by a court clerk) argued that the constitutional rights of his daughters Marie, 8, and Gathie, 9, were violated when they were expelled from Slip Hill Grade School near Charleston, W. In a landmark decision written by Justice Robert Jackson and announced on Flag Day, June 14, the Supreme Court sided with the Witnesses.
“To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds,” Jackson said.
“One’s right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, may not be submitted to vote….
Fundamental rights depend on the outcome of no elections.” Jackson’s opinion was laced with condemnation of enforced patriotism and oblique hints at the slaughter taking place in Hitler’s Europe.
The Catholic Church, said Rutherford, was a “racket,” and Protestants and Jews were “great simpletons,” taken in by the Catholic hierarchy to “carry on her commercial, religious traffic and increase her revenues.” Complaints about unwelcome public proselytizing by Witnesses led to frequent run-ins with state and local authorities and hundreds of appearances in lower courts.This “blood guilt” propelled in-your-face proselytizing by Witnesses in various communities on street corners and in door-to-door visits.