Atheist activists are launching a nationwide campaign aimed at removing the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.
The American Humanist Association, a secular advocacy group, announced the launch of the "Don't Say the Pledge" campaign Monday — an effort that will rely on a social media and traditional advertising campaign to encourage Americans to refuse to recite the Pledge until God's name is taken out.
Ads placed on YouTube and on buses in New York City and Washington D.C. will direct people to visit the DontSaythePledge.com website, where historical information on the recitation and related resources are being made available, according to a press release.
"Until the Pledge is restored to its inclusive version, we can take it upon ourselves to refuse to participate in what’s become a discriminatory exercise," the website reads. "Stand up for America by sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance until the inclusive version is restored."
David Niose, the American Humanist Association's legal director, said in a statement that public schools are "stigmatizing atheist and humanist children" by facilitating the daily recitation of the Pledge. So, his group is arguing that students should exercise their right not to participate.
"[It] violates the principles of equal rights and nondiscrimination," he said of the daily recitation.
The atheist group's main contention is that "under God" was not added to the Pledge until 1954 and that the original version, composed in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister, did not reference the Lord. They advocate for a return to the more secular version of the proclamation.
The American Humanist Association claims that a poll 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.
As TheBlaze reported earlier this year, a survey from LifeWay Research, a Christian polling firm, found, in contrast, 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.
Read more about the Pledge's controversial history here.