For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, email@example.com
(Freehold, NJ, Feb. 6, 2015)—Leaders at the American Humanist Association expressed disappointment over the allowance of a motion to dismiss its New Jersey lawsuit challenging the “under God” wording of the Pledge of Allegiance. The case is the second of its kind to argue against the inclusion of “under God” in the Pledge on the grounds of equal protection for humanists and atheists, bypassing the traditional Establishment Clause arguments. The decision comes from Superior Court Judge David Bauman after a hearing at the Monmouth County Courthouse on November 19.
“The daily Pledge recitation is a core part of how we define patriotism for children on a daily basis, so the exercise is discriminatory if it associates patriotism with God-belief and suggests that atheists and humanists are second-class citizens,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
On April 21, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed a lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District on behalf of a Monmouth County family. The suit claims that the daily Pledge exercise in public schools unlawfully discriminates against atheist children and their families by portraying God-belief as synonymous with patriotism and implying that nonbelievers are less patriotic.
“We will continue to work toward ensuring equal rights for all Americans who are good without a god,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “As the number of atheist, humanist and nonreligious Americans continues to grow, we expect to see increased support for an inclusive Pledge wording that emphasizes ‘one nation, indivisible.’”
The American Humanist Association will continue to raise awareness of the discriminatory nature of the current Pledge wording through its national boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance, which encourages individuals to exercise their right to remain seated during the Pledge until it is restored to its pre-1954 wording, which did not contain the phrase “under God.” The phrase was added during the McCarthy era. More information can be found at BoycottthePledge.com.
Details of the lawsuit can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.