Call for Comment: Atheist Family Sues to Have 'Under God' Removed From Pledge of Allegiance

The family, from Acton, alleges their children are being discriminated against.

The Pledge of Allegiance is back in court this week, after an atheist family from Acton sued the local school district, claiming their children are being discriminated against because the pledge contains the words “under God,” according to the Boston Globe.

On Monday, a lawyer for the family asked a Middlesex Superior Court judge to have the phrase removed.

The family are identified only as John and Jane Doe, and have three children—one in high school and two in middle school.

The pledge “defines patriotism according to a particular religious belief,” the family’s attorney told the judge, saying the children are being marginalized and discriminated against, according to the Globe.

According to an attorney for the school district, the pledge is constitutional and voluntary, and Superintendent of Acton Schools Stephen Mills told the Globe there are no negative consequences for students who choose to abstain from saying the pledge.

The judge in the case has yet to issue a ruling.

In the meantime, we thought it might be interesting to try this case in the court of public opinion.

We want to know what you think, Reading: Do you agree with the family’s argument that their children are being discriminated against, or, do you side with the the school district? 

Perhaps you’re just tired of seeing the Pledge of Allegiance dragged into court yet again?

Whatever the case may be, tell us in the comments!

Eric Doucette February 17, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Yes the phrase was added in the 50's, remember when families where families? Not just to fight communism but to put forth the the major belief in our country Minority telling the Majority what is right! Go Away!
Dan February 17, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I question the judgment of just about anyone with a overtly strong position on either side of this issue.
RQ February 17, 2012 at 04:10 PM
How is removing the phrase discrimination? It would be discrimination if the teacher asked the religious children to stand and repeat a statement that "No God Exists." Would you be for allowing that? Why not? The kids who believe in god could just be silent, and nobody is discriminated against. Shouldn't all religious points of view be given equal promotion? You see how it sounds when the shoe is on the other foot? What is wrong with RESTORING the pledge to what was the original intent of uniting us under National pride? Injecting religion into it divides us. Religious ideas should stand on their own merit without being propped up by the platform of our shared civic institutions. Religious views should be left to the individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and free will of each person. Can you imagine if the religious right came along now and voted in congress to change our National Anthem to say "the land under Jesus" instead of "the land of the free"? That is basically what happened to the pledge. Let's change it back.
Laura Savage-Carr February 18, 2012 at 12:59 AM
When did freedom of religion become freedom from religion?
Laura Savage-Carr February 18, 2012 at 01:08 AM
You may want to use some of that logic that you embrace to ponder Pascal's wager. Which country's founding fathers are you referring to? Not the guys that wrote these words: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's GOD entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--
AnonLikeU February 18, 2012 at 03:23 AM
When it involves the state , as in "separation of church and state".
Charles Towne February 18, 2012 at 11:33 AM
@Donna, educate us as to where we can find the phrase "separation of church and state". I can't find it in the Constitution. Not the US one anyway.
Charles Towne February 18, 2012 at 11:34 AM
All the GLBT signs at RMHS discriminate against my beliefs. Who should I contact to have them removed? Don't make me have to sue.
Cheryl Buono February 18, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Charles, you'll have to give her some time to Google it and she'll get back to you. She's heard it so many times on the nighlty news so it must be in there somewhere.
CB February 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Complete silliness and a waste of everyone's time and money. If they're atheists it shouldn't matter to them whether that statement is in there or not...it might as well say under 'carrot' or 'cumulus cloud'. I mean does it really hurt to have that in there, does it cause tinnitus when you hear it? Some people have too much time on their hands, get a grip.
Charles Towne February 19, 2012 at 11:31 AM
The Pledge of Allegiance is back in court this week, after an atheist family from Acton sued the local school district. The family are identified only as John and Jane Dopes, and have three children—one in high school and two in middle school. They drive a Prius with a faded Obama '08 bumper sticker on it and an old Subaru with a peeling Kerry/Edwards sticker. One of their children founded a GLBT club while still in elementary school. Their oldest child, fought for and won the right to hand out tax-payer funded "free" condoms to classmates during homeroom. Just a typical Acton family.
Cheryl Buono February 19, 2012 at 06:44 PM
How do you make atheists mad? Pray for them. I'm giving up the Patch for Lent.
George February 20, 2012 at 04:23 PM
If the courts stopped caving to these types of frivolous law suits these foolish situations would stop coming up. the kids are in school to get an education. The recitations of the Pledge of allegiance does not interfere with their education nor does it discriminate a gainst them. The phrases in the pledge 'one nation", under God", "Indivisible" are descriptors of the nation represented by the flag. Acknowledging allegiance to the nation, state, and community that represetns the people paying for their education should be an honor not something to be fought in a frivolous way. I pray to my God that the courts finally start waking up and dismissing these stupid law suits.
Diana February 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
You know, there's a very simple litmus test for this sort of thing. Replace "God" with "Yahweh", "Allah", "Krishna" or "Flying Spaghetti Monster". Still think it belongs there?
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:04 PM
You side with the constitution? So do the Does, their lawsuit is based on the 14th amendment: all law-abiding citizens are to have equal standing.
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:06 PM
It's hysterical to hear women make this argument. So Marie, if the Pledge said, “one nation under white men” (which we know the founding fathers clearly believed - it's in the Constitution), then you would be fine with just not being forced to say it and just shut the hell up? No, of course not, if the shoe were on the other foot, of course, you wouldn't. It’s offensive to exclude people, and utterly absurd in what is supposed to be a pledge of national unity.
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:10 PM
John, I am sure the pro-"under God" folks will support you if the Pledge is changed to, "one nation, under the gods". They universally agree that they are fine with just leaving out the words they don't agree with.
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:11 PM
When the American people decided they want limited government, one that didn't meddle in their personal and private beliefs.
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:13 PM
The you're OK, if we change the Pledge to say, "under no gods"? As long as you assure us that it doesn't really hurt to have it in there, it's fine with me.
Hifi February 20, 2012 at 08:15 PM
George, I guess that proves that your God doesn't exist. Or maybe he doesn't like what he's hearing from someone who doesn't believe in liberty and justice.
Liz Whitelam February 21, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I am generally not a fan of discourse through web comments, as it too frequently devolves into people taking crabby pot shots at each other. However, too often, the very vocal majority assumes that everyone agrees with them because the minority hasn’t spoken up, so I feel compelled to contribute. I find it disappointing, first of all, that in a great rush to protect the “under God” that was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, people are all too ready to ignore the far more important “One nation” and “Indivisible” sentiments that have always been there. While the insertion of a god into the Pledge can be a divisive issue, as citizens of the United States, we need to remember that we are all on the same team. Calls for people to move elsewhere or just deal with it are hardly an expression of the spirit of community that should bind us as Americans. We are all fallible in our memory of what is in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, what has been determined through legal precedent, and what is and has not. This link may be helpful. (I’m referring to the content of the whole page, not the fact that you can get printed copies of it.) http://ffrf.org/publications/nontracts/Is-America-A-Christian-Nation/ (My long comment will be continued in next comment... I had too many characters)
Liz Whitelam February 21, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Additionally, I find it distressing when members of our community are so ready to attack a family doing what they believe to be the right thing. The parents in Acton, in showing their children that it is worth it to stand up to the vocal majority even though it is hard, are demonstrating excellent parenting, and in exercising their right to due process, and in teaching their children about the same, are patriots and should be lauded, not condemned. The Pledge affirms liberty and justice FOR ALL. Not just for the majority.
Diana February 21, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Liz, I entirely agree, and that was beautifully stated. Thank you.
George February 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Hifi or nofi or whatever u r. My God exists because i believe he exists. As for liberty and justice they are my beliefs also. Liberty and justice of the Dopes is not compromised because the Pleadge has under god in it. It has been proven that they are free to say it not say it or even leave the room if they want. But they should not be free to take it away from the overwhelming majority of people who want it becuase of our beliefs.
CB February 22, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I agree, technically, with Liz that people have the right to question anything if they think their rights are being violated and they can explore this to the extent allowable by law. However, I mostly agree with George. This is something I just don't get. With all the dysfunctional things in this world, this is at the top of your agenda? This is the issue you draw a line in the sand for? I'd be far more concerned with common sense, practical issues like: Is my child learning arithmetic? Does he/she understand physics? Is he/she learning a second language? Is my child getting exposed to illegal drugs at school? Things that have real-life, long-term implications. The general sentiment from the courts is that no one can be forced to recite the pledge, nor can they be punished for not saying it. All of it is voluntary. The words under God are part of an established, ceremonial allegiance that does not attempt to create a religious sect. The notion that it is unconstitutional to have "under God" was recently rejected by higher courts in NH, the 1st circuit Court of Appeals (out of Boston) and the Supreme Court. I suspect it'll stay that way. Bottom line...if it doesn't violate your rights and the majority want to keep it (I dont know numbers on this but I suspect the other posters are correct, this would win hands-down in a popular vote), then it stays. At some point people should stop trying to generate legal critical mass around this subject and move on.
Ramona March 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Ramona March 10, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Ramona March 10, 2012 at 02:59 PM
No hifi...liberty and justice for all is what we stand for. This is why even the lowest of low court filings get heard such as this one. Not for a minute is God not listening. These people will get just what God decides they will get. Which what I see in their future...a HUGE Attorney Bill! and no God isn't going to be the one that pays it. They have brought it unto themselves and will be responsible for their own actions.
Ramona March 10, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Well said Charles...I see the visual!
Ramona March 10, 2012 at 03:33 PM


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