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Suit asks NJ school district to remove ‘under God’ from pledge of allegiance

Posted Apr 22, 2014 6:33 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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A New Jersey school district is being sued over the inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The suit, filed last month in Monmouth County Superior Court, was announced Monday by the American Humanist Association, the Asbury Park Press and the Huffington Post report.

The group contends that the phrase, added to the pledge in 1954, unlawfully discriminates against the plaintiffs on the basis of religion.

The plaintiffs, an anonymous couple and their school-aged child, are asking a judge to rule that the pledge violates the equal protection guarantees of the state constitution.

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David Niose, an attorney for the association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement Monday that public schools should not engage in an exercise that "tells students that patriotism is tied to a belief in God."

"Such a daily exercise portrays atheist and humanist children as second-class citizens, and certainly contributes to anti-atheist prejudices," he wrote.

But David Rubin, a lawyer for the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, said the district is only following state law, which requires public schools to have a daily recitation of the pledge. He also said that individual students are not required to participate.

The humanist group is awaiting a court ruling on a similar suit in Massachusetts.

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