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‘Under God’ in Pledge Upheld by NJ Judge

'Under God' in Pledge Upheld by NJ Judge

Fairmeadow Elementary School students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a school assembly in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Nov. 5, 2007. Micheal Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, is seeking to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and U.S. currency. He is taking his arguments back to a federal appeals court on Tuesday, Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

A New Jersey judge has thrown out a lawsuit against a school district seeking to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance recited daily by students.

State Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman in Monmouth County ruled that recitation of those words in the pledge in Matawan-Aberdeen schools does not violate rights guaranteed to individuals under the New Jersey Constitution.

Bauman’s written opinion, made public Friday, dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by the American Humanist Association, an organization that works to protect the rights of atheists and other non-religious groups.

In his decision, Bauman noted that the nation was founded on a belief in God. He cited historical references to the nation’s founding fathers, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, and the writers of New Jersey’s constitution exhibiting faith in and reliance upon God.

“The words ‘under God’ are now as interwoven through the fabric of the Pledge of Allegiance as the threads of red, white and blue into the fabric of the flag to which the Pledge is recited,” Bauman wrote.

Bauman said the Pledge of Allegiance, in its historical context, has never been viewed as a religious exercise, but as a vehicle to transmit “those core values of duty, honor, pride and fidelity to country on which the social contract between the United States and its citizens is ultimately based.”

David Rubin, the school district’s attorney, said he is pleased with the judge’s decision, but expects the American Humanist Association will appeal it.

“We anticipate there may be an appeal but are confident that Judge Bauman’s decision will be upheld,” Rubin said.

The American Humanist Association said in a news release that its leaders are disappointed in Bauman’s decision, but it did not say whether an appeal was planned.

“The daily pledge recitation is a core part of how we define patriotism for children on a daily basis, so the exercise is discriminatory if it associates patriotism with God-belief and suggests that atheists and humanists are second-class citizens,” the association’s attorney, David Niose, said in the news release.

Bauman noted that New Jersey law allows any child to abstain from reciting it for any reason, whether religious, political, moral or any other principle.

He added that there is no evidence to suggest that the unidentified child on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed has ever been required to provide an explanation for not participating in the pledge.

The American Humanist Association filed the lawsuit against the school district last year on behalf of an unnamed family with a child in the school system. The lawsuit claimed that the practice of acknowledging God in the Pledge of Allegiance discriminated against atheists, in violation of New Jersey’s constitution.

Source:
USA Today

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