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Published On: Sat, Sep 27th, 2014

Samantha Jones, New Jersey student, going to court for ‘Under God’ in Pledge of Allegiance

A high school student in New Jersey is headed to court, battling for her right to the Pledge of Allegiance with the praise “one nation under God” after an atheist group is pressuring a school district to end the recitation of the pledge all together.

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

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

“When I stand up, put my hand over my heart and say the Pledge of Allegiance, I am recognizing that my rights come from God, not from the government,” said Samantha Jones, a senior at Highland Regional High School. “If anyone wants to remain silent, that is their right. But it is not their right to silence me.”

The Becket Fund chronicles the lawsuit by the American Humanist Association and the stance by Jones.

“Each argument offered by the atheists has been overwhelmingly rejected in every state and federal challenge leveled against the Pledge to date. At root, the AHA’s suit is based on one critically flawed assumption: that the phrase “under God” is a theologically charged religious statement…”

The courts have reaffirmed that the phrase “under God” is part of “America’s unique political philosophy that grounds human dignity and fundamental rights in an authority higher than the State. Consequently, historic appeals to ‘Nature’s God’ in the Declaration of Independence, Washington’s Farwell Address, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address are not primarily religious. By adding ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 (reaffirmed in 2002), Congress sought to contrast the mutually exclusive conceptions of human rights envisioned by the United States and the U.S.S.R.”

“The Pledge is not a religious creed or a prayer. It is a statement of our nation’s political philosophy that rights come not from the state but from something higher — as our Declaration of Independence puts it, ‘Nature’s God.’ We are confident that the court will uphold the right to say the Pledge in its entirety,” said Kristina Arriaga, Becket Fund executive director.

In addition to filing lawsuits, the AHA has stepped up secular efforts to ban recitation of the pledge in public schools with a campaign encouraging students to sit out the pledge until it is banned. The website Don’tSaythePledge.com provides resources for parents to discuss the pledge with their children and how students can report harassment or bullying if they decide to remain seated during recitation of the pledge.

“Courts have recognized that the Pledge is constitutionally permissible because it uses the phrase “under God” as a statement of political philosophy, not theology,” asserts Becket.

According to a Becket Fund summary of the case, “the court ruled that no child must be silenced from reaffirming timeless American ideals because others disagree. Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, writing for the unanimous court, stated, ‘Here there is no discriminatory classification for purposes of (Massachusetts) article 106 — no differing treatment of any class or classes of students based on their sex, race, color, creed or national origin.

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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. Equality 4 All says:

    Wow. Well, I should have realized it coming. Some stuck up kid reciting what their parent has preached to them over the years. America! America! It is the best! It is the only country that exists in the world! God bless America! Gosh. This Samantha Jones girl really is full of it. I don’t hate her or anything, but she’s got it pretty wrong. She makes an argument, is proven wrong, then has to move along to the next feeble attempt at proving that One Nation Under God should be part of the pledge of allegiance. First she says that the phrase is part of US history, but excuse me, it wasn’t even part of the original pledge. Then she tells us (because clearly that one didn’t work) that it tells us that our rights come from god, not the government. If that is true, then how come African Americans didn’t have the same rights as white people in America for a long time, even after the Under God phrase was inserted into the pledge of allegiance? How come gay people still don’t have rights to marry in some states right now? That power lies in the hands of the government, obviously. And since Christians say that God supposedly gave us the right to act of our own free will, he would have given the politicians that power. Strike 2 for Samantha Jones. She also argues that one has the right to be silent, but does not have the right to silence her. We are not silencing you! Seeing as that you have freedom of speech, you can go all over and preach until you cannot speak anymore. The problem for us, is that at school, we can be silent, but when we get our passports-we can’t. That could also potentially be a problem for immigrants coming into the country having to recite the pledge of allegiance. In that situation atheists, and members of other religions are discriminated against by being forced to declare loyalty to a deity that cannot be proven by science. Strike 3. And for students who would like to declare loyalty to their country without going against their belief system, they must sit, or skip the phrase instead of truly being able to fully express loyalty to their country. Another point I would like to add is that atheists are a minority and I think that it’s time we quit discriminating against minorities. And FYI I am 12 and my parents do not really agree with me on this so I am not reciting what my parents have told me.

  2. New Jersey: Teen, Samantha Jones, leads movement, beats atheist lawsuit over pledge - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] joined her family in officially filing a response to the American Humanist Association lawsuit, defending the presence of “under God” in the […]

  3. Mark Moore says:

    I love all the verses in the bible about democracy. I love all the biblical verses about representative government and a jury by ones peers. Particularly I like the verses on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

    I also like the way we use the biblical punishments for crimes like stoning people for working on the sabbath and adultery or planting two crops in the same field is so godly and merciful. I love the jurisprudence used in executing people that mix two threads in their clothing or for killing children that are unruly or even trimming the corners of their beards. God is so wise, if only our legislators would follow in his footsteps of genocide, slavery and torture.

    Our form of government is truly based on the bible – that is why our public buildings look like Pagan Greek and Roman buildings.

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