Court: Pledge is patriotic exercise, not religious

Thursday, June 5, 2014
Bob Kellogg (

A humanist group suffered a setback recently in its attempt to associate a two-word phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance – "under God" – with discrimination.

School_pledge 620x300In a ruling early last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Court sided with those who believe the Pledge recited by public school students should retain the words "under God." The justices upheld a lower-court ruling that states recitation of the Pledge in public schools does not violate the commonwealth's constitution.

In its decision, the court wrote the reference to God in the Pledge is a "fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one."

Andrew Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute says the students who claimed they are offended by the words "under God" aren't required to recite the Pledge if they so choose, or even stand during the recitation.

"This ruling confirms the concept that simply taking offense at something you're not required to participate in doesn't mean you get to ban it for everyone," he tells OneNewsNow.

The unidentified plaintiffs were represented by the American Humanist Association, which describes recitation of the Pledge as "a daily indoctrination" of school children.


Beckwith is pleased with the decision in the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District case.

"As has been the case historically, Massachusetts – for better or for worse – often leads the nation on some of these contentious issues," he shares, "and we're very happy to see that in this case they came to the right conclusion."

Other states, New Jersey among them, were closely following the outcome of this case to see how it might affect their own lawsuits against the Pledge. The American Humanist Association currently has a similar lawsuit pending in New Jersey and just recently submitted a letter to a New York school district on behalf an atheist student who objects to the phrase "under God" in the Pledge.

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