Just last month, I was made to sit in the principal's office for over an hour because of my refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. My teacher had pressured us to stand for the pledge throughout the year, threatening us with punishment for refusing to participate.
Finally, I made the decision that I should not stand for a practice in which I do not believe. I decided that we should not be required to pledge our allegiance to "one nation under God" if we choose not to. In response to this, my right to an education was taken away from me. I was punished by deliberately being made to sit in the office, used as an example for others who choose to stand up for what they believe in.
It is the subtlety of intolerance that poses a threat to the freedom that we have left. It is the power of freethinking and the spreading of awareness that will change the backward ways of our culture. I will continue to fight for this freedom until our nation is truly free of religious persecution.
Conrad Wright, 18, graduated from Arcata High School in California and will be attending California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, with plans to major in economics and minor in political science, focused on pre-law.