By Casey Harper – BarbWire guest contributor
A New Jersey high school girl has finally won a hard fought battle to protect her right to say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.
A judge Friday dismissed a liberal, anti-theist group’s attempt to strip “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance after a family objected to their daughter’s school endorsing the practice.
“I’m so grateful the court decided that kids like me shouldn’t be silenced just because some people object to timeless American values,” Samantha Jones, a senior at Highland Regional High School, said in a statement.
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The American Humanist Association argued that “under God” is a theologically charged statement unfit for school because it discriminates against anti-theist students.
“Public schools should not engage in an exercise that tells students that patriotism is tied to a belief in God,” David Niose, attorney for the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement in April. “Such a daily exercise portrays atheist and humanist children as second-class citizens, and certainly contributes to anti-atheist prejudices.”
This is the second time the government has denied AHA’s attack on the phrase, the first in Massachusetts, according to the Becket Fund, which is representing Jones.
“Today the Pledge continued its long winning streak in court, and the atheist activists continued their losing streak,” Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But do we have to keep playing this game? It would be much less divisive for our society if those opposed to the Pledge would stop trying to silence those who disagree with them.”
The original version of the pledge did not include the phrase “under God,” which was added in 1954 by Congress. When AHA and the family filed suit to get God out of the pledge, Jones stood up in defense and became the face of the resistance.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve recited the Pledge of Allegiance because it sums up the values that make our country great,” Jones said in a statement. “The phrase ‘under God’ protects all Americans—including atheists—because it reminds the government that it can’t take away basic human rights because it didn’t create them.”
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