In Massachusetts, atheists lose ‘under God’ fight

The highest court in Massachusetts upheld the legality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance on May 9, dealing a blow to atheist groups who challenged the pledge on antidiscrimination grounds.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said the daily, teacher-led recitation of the pledge in state public schools does not violate the state’s equal rights amendment and is not discriminatory against the children of atheists, humanists, and other nontheists.

“Participation is entirely voluntary,” the court wrote as a whole in the decision of Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, brought by an anonymous humanist family.

“All students are presented with the same options; and one student’s choice not to participate because of a religiously held belief is, as both a practical and a legal matter, indistinguishable from another’s choice to abstain for a wholly different, more mundane, and constitutionally insignificant reason.”

 

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