Published On: Fri, Feb 6th, 2015

New Jersey: Teen, Samantha Jones, leads movement, beats atheist lawsuit over pledge

A New Jersey judge has thrown out an atheist lawsuit which argued that “under God” is a violation of the state’s constitution, ending activists’ latest attempt to remove the decades-old wording from the Pledge of Allegiance. A motivated teen, Samantha Jones, was key to the win and moves to center stage.

“I’m so grateful the court decided that kids like me shouldn’t be silenced just because some people object to timeless American values,” the teen said in a statement distributed through her attorneys at the Becket Fund.

photo Beverly & Pack

photo Beverly & Pack

Jones continued,”Ever since I was little, I’ve recited the Pledge of Allegiance because it sums up the values that make our country great. The phrase ‘under God’ protects all Americans — including atheists — because it reminds the government that it can’t take away basic human rights because it didn’t create them.”

The court battle started last February when an unnamed family in New Jersey filed a lawsuit against Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in Aberdeen, New Jersey, arguing through representation by the American Humanist Association that mentioning God in the Pledge of Allegiance constituted discrimination against nonbelievers, violating the equal protection clause of New Jersey’s constitution.

“It’s not the place of state governments to take a position on god-belief,” Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, told Religion News Service at the time. “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.”

The school district’s lawyer had argued, though, that officials have merely been following state law, which requires daily recitation of the pledge. While the district offers the recitation in its seven elementary, middle and high schools, students are not required to participate.

Jones joined her family in officially filing a response to the American Humanist Association lawsuit, defending the presence of “under God” in the Pledge.

State Superior Court Judge David Bauman had already expressed doubts about the atheist-led lawsuit during oral arguments back in November, noting that he saw no evidence of the bullying or mistreatment of atheists as a result of “under God,” according to Fox News.

This is the second loss that the American Humanist Associated has suffered after shifting gears to rely on state constitutions.

Samantha Jones and family - the New Jersey battle of the Pledge of Allegiance  photo/Becket Fund

Samantha Jones and family – the New Jersey battle of the Pledge of Allegiance photo/Becket Fund

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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 theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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