Back in February, we told you about an atheist family in Massachusetts that has been engaged in a legal battle to have “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. In a press release sent out on Monday morning, the American Humanist Association announced that the Middlesex Superior Court ruled against the family. According to the statement, the atheist parents are already planning an appeal.
As The Blaze previously reported, the family decided to sue the Acton-Boxborough school system, claiming that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with the words “under God” discriminates against their children. The parents, who wish to remain anonymous, are identified only as John and Jane Doe. They have three children in the district — one in high school and two others in middle school.
In Middlesex Superior Court earlier this year, David Niosie, the family’s lawyer asked that the words be taken out of the expression of loyalty to America. Now, the atheist and humanist community is already reacting with fervor to the family’s loss. In the press release, the AHA railed against the court’s decision and stated plans to continue fighting the matter. The official decision can be read here.
“No child should go to school every day, from kindergarten to grade twelve, to be faced with an exercise that defines patriotism according to religious belief,” said Niose, who also serves as the president of the AHA. “If conducting a daily classroom exercise that marginalizes one religious group while exalting another does not violate basic principles of equal rights and nondiscrimination, then I don’t know what does.”
Rather than tackling the federal government, the family — led by the AHA — went after the state’s use of “under God,” claiming that it was a violation of the Massachusetts constitution.
“If the federal government decides to write a discriminatory Pledge, the Massachusetts Constitution nevertheless protects children in the Commonwealth from the discrimination that would occur from daily recitation of the Pledge in classrooms,” Niose continued.
The main issue, the AHA president claims, is that the Pledge is “a daily indoctrination.” The recitation essentially, in his view, defines patriotism as a belief in the ideal that a higher power exists.
“When we define patriotism with a religious truth claim—that the nation is in fact under a god—we define nonbelievers as less patriotic,” he said.
It seems the battle will likely continue, via an appeal, as the family seeks to ensure that the Pledge and its supposed indoctrination be halted.