Fargo school board member who railed against Pledge of Allegiance voted out

Seth Holden, who referred to the Pledge of Allegiance as a "non-inclusionary act," was voted out last week.

Fargo school board member Seth Holden lost his seat in the school board elections, receiving less than 10 percent of the total votes cast. (Fargo Public Schools)

Fargo school board member Seth Holden lost his seat in the school board elections, receiving less than 10 percent of the total votes cast.

Holden was one of nine candidates on the ballot in the June 11 elections, from whom voters could select a total of four candidates. Challengers Kristin Nelson, Allie Ollenburger, Jason Nelson, and incumbent Nikkie Gullickson were elected to the board with 16 percent, 14 percent, 12.9 percent, and 12.3 percent of the vote, respectively.

Holden distinguished himself during his time on the Fargo school board for his ideological positions. He gained attention on June 28, 2022, when he made the decision to kneel for the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of board meetings, in apparent emulation of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In April 2022, Holden voted against saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of meetings, declaring, “I would argue that our work might not get better because of the divisiveness this could create because of not every person not wanting to partake in the Pledge of Allegiance,” adding, “not every single person in this country has liberty and justice.”

At a separate meeting in August 2022, during which the board voted to undo its previous approval of the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings, Holden referred to the pledge as a “non-inclusionary act” because “the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized … the text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian God, and therefore, it does not include any other faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism.”

Amid backlash, the board again reversed its decision and now says the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings. Despite leading the charge against the pledge, Holden later voted in favor of reinstating it, according to Inforum.

Holden has also expressed support for concealing gender transitions from parents and guardians, according to WDAY. Fargo Public Schools refused to comply with North Dakota’s law mandating parental notification in the event of their child transitioning to a different gender, with Holden justifying the board’s position by saying, “everybody is willing to work with parents on a vast number of issues, but I just really think what it boils down to, we need to respect the wishes of individuals,” and suggested this was true regardless of age.

Holden’s stances likely brought about his downfall in the recent elections. Allie Ollenburger, who was one of the challengers elected to the board, was a concerned parent interviewed by Fox News in 2022 after Holden took a knee. Ollenburger referred to Holden’s actions as “petty politics” and added, “listening to the disrespectful, disgusting monologue was heartbreaking,” in reference to Holden’s anti-pledge screed.


Evan Poellinger

Evan Poellinger, the Alpha News Summer 2024 Journalism Fellow, is a native Minnesotan with a lifelong passion for history and politics. He previously worked as a journalism intern with the American Spectator and an investigative journalism fellow with the Media Research Center. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross with degrees in political science and history.