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Published On: Thu, Apr 24th, 2014

New Jersey lawsuit seeks to ban pledge due to ‘under God’ phrases

The American Humanist Association is suing a New Jersey school district for its recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public classrooms. The issue at hand is the phrase “under God” in the pledge.

A central New Jersey family is represented in the lawsuit which was filed against Monmouth County’s Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District. This is the second case which contends that the pledge violates a state constitution’s protection against religious discrimination; previous cases held the pledge violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on the establishment of religion.

This case is awaiting a decision in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

“It’s not the place of state governments to take a position on god-belief,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The current pledge practice marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots, merely because they don’t believe the nation is under God.”

“People have a right to opt of the pledge if they have an objection to it,” Eric Rassbach, an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told the Los Angeles Times. Rassbach is representing the group suing Massachusetts in a similar manner.

A lawyer for the school district responded to the lawsuit by saying the district is following a state law that requires schools to have a daily recitation of the pledge. The AHA argues the pledge violates the New Jersey Constitution’s protection against discrimination due to “religious principles, race, color, ancestry or national origin.”

The Pledge of Allegiance did not contain the phrase “under God” until 1954 when it was added by a vote of Congress as a protection against “godless Communism.”

photo/Jennifer Parr

photo/Jennifer Parr

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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. Mark Moore says:

    Lets change the pledge to read “There is no god.” Then all the little Christian children can just opt out.

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