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article imageMass. high court rules Pledge of Allegiance not religious

By Martin Laine     May 11, 2014 in Politics
The highest court in Massachusetts has passed down a decision ruling that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools doesn't discriminate against atheists.
Stand up, eyes on the flag, and with your right hand over your heart, recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It is a patriotic exercise American schoolchildren learn the moment they first walk through the schoolhouse doors.
But it is not universally accepted, and there have been legal challenges ever since Congress first approved it in 1942. It faced even more challenges after Congress voted to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge in 1954.
In one of the most recent challenges, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled Friday that the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase “under God” is a patriotic expression, not a religious one, according to an article in the Boston Globe.
The justices upheld a lower court ruling in a suit brought by an atheist family in 2010 claiming that the daily recitation violates their children’s First Amendment rights. No one can be compelled to take part in the recitation, but the family claimed by doing so cast doubt on the children’s patriotism.
A similar suit has been filed by a New Jersey family.
The family wants the Mattawan-Aberdeen School District to drop the phrase “under God” from the pledge, according to an article in the Asbury Park Press. They claim that acknowledging a deity discriminates against atheists.
Both families have asked not to be identified.
David Rubin, an attorney representing the New Jersey school district, said the district is simply following state law.
“If the group who’s brought this lawsuit questions the wisdom of that policy or the legality of it, we believe their arguments are much better directed to the state legislature, who’s imposed this requirement on us,” he said.
More about of Allegiance, First amendment, Lawsuit
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