Mass. judge upholds Pledge of Allegiance’s ‘under God’

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A Massachusetts judge has rejected a lawsuit that seeks to declare the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional for schoolchildren to recite, drawing praise from those who said the pledge is in line with American traditions.

Schoolchildren who wanted to continue saying the pledge, their parents, and the Knights of Columbus defended the pledge with legal representation from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Diana Verm, legal counsel at the Becket Fund, said the decision is a “great victory for everyone who believes human rights come not from the whim of the government, but from a higher power, which is what the pledge proclaims.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty cited previous court decisions in upholding the words “under God.” She said the pledge is not a religious exercise but “a voluntary patriotic exercise” that teaches “American history and civics.”

Her decision came in response to a lawsuit from the secularist group the American Humanist Association, which said it may appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court.

The association’s president David Niose represented the plaintiffs in the case, a Massachusetts family who objected to the pledge.

Niose said June 11 that the pledge recitation “defines patriotism according to religious belief.”

Verm said that American Humanist Association members have the right to remain silent “but they don’t have the right to silence everyone else.”

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus said that the decision “kept faith with the foundational concept of this country,” the “unalienable rights” endowed by our Creator.

Four other major lawsuits have tried to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, with none yet succeeding.

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