For the record, the USA calls itself a Republic.
It has been my experience that people just don’t know as much as they should in the realm of practicality. Democracy seems to be the buzzword we use to describe our benevolent desire to enlighten the rest of the world with all those things the USG feels obligated to impart … and insists on it.
Republic applies to the State or Nation itself while Democracy implies a mood of fairness, classlessness, consensus and egalitarianism … all the things we have bastardized for ourselves and desire to do the same for everyone else.
I don't think the absence of 'the Pledge ..." or "a prayer" can compete with all the other 'competition' (Nintendo, Sony etc.) ... they don’t even makes a dent in the child’s education. It is the "system"!
PS: You were right about prayer in school myfist0!!! I have been on a tangent ... but I am back now.