FREEHOLD, N.J. (UPI) — The American Humanist Association has filed a lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified family against a New Jersey school district alleging the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is discriminatory toward atheist children.
The suit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District contends the phrase “marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots.”
“Public schools should not engage in an exercise that tells students that patriotism is tied to a belief in God,” David Niose, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in an AHA press release. “Such a daily exercise portrays atheist and humanist children as second-class citizens, and certainly contributes to anti-atheist prejudices.”
According to the lawsuit, “under God” violates the state constitution, not the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The AHA has more than 24,800 members and at least seven affiliates in New Jersey.
“Among these members and supporters are numerous parents of children who are, or will be, attending New Jersey public schools, including some who attend or will be attending the public schools of the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District,” the lawsuit said.