New Jersey

Judge Hears Suit Over Phrase “Under God” in Pledge of Allegiance

A judge Wednesday heard arguments in a lawsuit filed against a New Jersey school district by a family who claim the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against children with atheist beliefs.

The family, identified in court papers as John and Jane Doe and their child, sued the Aberdeen Matawan school district. They contend that the phrase "under God" in the pledge is discriminatory.

A state Superior Court judge in Monmouth County is hearing arguments Wednesday on the school district's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The school district claims it is merely following a state law that requires schools to have a daily recitation of the pledge. Individual students do not have to participate in the pledge.

In a court filing, the district wrote that the plaintiffs can't claim a violation of equal protection laws because all students are treated equally by not having to recite the pledge.

The American Legion and Knights of Columbus have joined the lawsuit in support of the school district.

The phrase "under God" was written into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.

In May, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled in a similar case that the words "under God" in the pledge reflect a patriotic practice, not a religious one.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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