More than one-third of Americans support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, according to an atheist activist group.

The American Humanist Association claims that a survey it commissioned through the Seidewitz Group, a research firm, found that, when given details about the history of the national expression of loyalty, 34 percent of Americans actually support removing “under God” from the Pledge.

This is significant, as the proportions differ greatly from the single-digit support seen for the removal in at least one recent survey — and the atheist group believes that’s because of one key difference in the way it posed the question.

Before being asked for their opinion on the removal of the controversial phrase, respondents were given some background on the issue.

Fairmeadow Elementary School students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a school assembly in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Nov. 5, 2007.  A 9th Circuit in San Francisco hears appeal of Pledge of Allegiance case on Tuesday.  An atheist seeking to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and U.S. currency is taking his arguments back to a federal appeals court. Michael Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, sued the Elk Grove Unified School District in 2000 for forcing public school children to recite the pledge, saying it was unconstitutional.  (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

“For its first 62 years, the Pledge of Allegiance did not include the phrase ‘under God,’” those taking the poll were told before answering the question. “During the Cold War, in 1954, the phrase ‘one nation indivisible’ was changed to read ‘one nation, under God, indivisible.’ Some people feel this phrase in our national pledge should focus on unity rather than religion.”

Based on this information, respondents were then asked if the U.S. should return to the “unchanged version” or continue with the “changed version” of the Pledge.

A majority — 66 percent of Americans — said they’d like to see “under God” remain, with one-third of the nation supporting a removal.

The American Humanist Association, though, has made it clear that it opposes the current wording, with executive director Roy Speckhardt claiming that it ”marginalizes atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nontheists because it presents them as less patriotic, simply because they do not believe in God.”

The atheist group noted that these proportions are intriguing, as they differ from past research on the matter. As TheBlaze reported earlier this year, a survey from LifeWay Research, a Christian polling firm, found that the vast majority of Americans have no problem with the words “under God” in the Pledge.

When asked, “Should the words ‘under God’ be removed from or remain in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America?,” 85 percent of respondents opted to keep the current wording. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said it should be removed.

Photo credit: ShutterStock

Photo credit: ShutterStock

The American Humanist Association believes that educating Americans about the origins of the wording in its survey actually helped increase the proportion of those opposing “under God.”

“We are encouraged by these findings, which suggest with even a small amount of education, more Americans are in favor of restoring the Pledge to its original wording,” Speckhardt said.

The organization also asked Americans about the appropriateness of opening meetings in the names of Jesus or Allah. While 47.7 percent felt it was inappropriate to open prayers in Jesus’ name, this proportion jumped to 75.6 percent when respondents were asked about Allah.

The sample size of 1,000 Americans were drawn in May from an online panel with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Read the complete study here.

Front page image via Shutterstock.com