Saying the Pledge of Allegiance is hardly controversial but it seemed so at a League of Women Voters Congressional Debate in Peters Township Tuesday night.

Democrat Dan Connolly and Republican Tim Murphy were about to begin when Murphy asked the moderator for the pledge. As the moderator hesitated, the crowd took action on its own.

The same occurred in Illinois on Oct. 20 when an audience member asked, “Are we going to say the Pledge of Allegiance?”

The moderator responded, “No we are not. That’s not part of the proposal tonight.”

Again, the audience overruled the moderator, standing to say the pledge.

“There have been some groups who want to create a ruckus, call attention to something and using the pledge to the flag and making it seem the League is unpatriotic if we don’t,” says Greater Pittsburgh League President Arlene Levy.

Levy says she thinks some of this is political but the League has no problem with the pledge if requested in advance by the candidates.

“We have no problem doing it,” says Levy.

Neither Connolly nor Murphy made that request earlier.

“My assumption was that there was no need to bring this up. I didn’t even think about it until we got to the event and it appeared it wasn’t going to happen, so I think it was a good thing,” says Murphy.

“Both campaigns obviously missed it. There was no request. But we were able to do it and we did it without incident,” says Connolly.

And both candidates say there is nothing political about the pledge.

“I see it as something completely a-political. It’s something that unites all of Americans,” says Connolly.

“If the flag is political, then we have some problems here. The flag is what brings us together,” says Murphy.

Now, again, the League of Women Voters says it has absolutely no problem with the Pledge of Allegiance.

For the record, the debate last night was run by the Washington County League.

The Greater Pittsburgh League president says her chapter will be discussing this issue at its next board meeting — perhaps to incorporate the pledge in every candidate debate.

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