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Published On: Tue, May 13th, 2014

Massachusetts judge strikes down atheist lawsuit against ‘under God’ in Pledge of Allegiance

The Massachusetts supreme court ruled against an atheist lawsuit against the ‘under God’ portion of the pledge of allegiance rejecting the family’s claim that it violated their rights.

photo U.S. National Archives and Records Administration  April 1942

photo U.S. National Archives and Records Administration April 1942

“For those who have been attacking the pledge we would offer this: our system protects their right to remain silent, but it doesn’t give them a right to silence others,” Chief Justice Roderick Ireland wrote.

“Today the court affirmed what should have been obvious — ‘God’ is not a dirty word,” Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a conservative legal firm, said in a press release. “And it isn’t discriminatory either. The words ‘under God’ are a reminder to our children that government doesn’t give us our rights and it can’t take them away either.”

The state’s highest court rejected the notion that atheist children are discriminated against when the words “under God” are uttered in public school classrooms, noting that the recitation is optional, according to a press release from the group.

The American Humanist Association, the secular advocacy group that represented the unnamed family, dismissed the ruling as a failure to protect atheist students’ rights.

The lawsuit’s aim was to go around past claims of First Amendment Establishment Clause violations to make the case that atheists’ rights were being violated under the equal protection provision of the Massachusetts state constitution.

“We are very disappointed by the court’s ruling,” said David Niose, director of the American Humanist Association’s legal department. “No child should go to public school every day, from kindergarten to grade 12, and be faced with an exercise that portrays his or her religious group as less patriotic.”

As part of the hearing, the court noted that the children were not bullied due to their non-belief contradicting the alleged discrimmination or prejudices.

Last week, the US Supeme Court ruled to protect prayer at public meetings.

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. robert Hussein says:

    By the way, This judge is in Massachusetts, not in Boko haram

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