Teenager Beats Atheist Group in Pledge of Allegiance Case
- By Alison Lesley --
- 15 Apr 2015 --
Teenager Samantha Jones successfully fought to keep the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance for New Jersey schools.
American Humanist Association, an atheist group that has made multiple attempts to remove the “under God” phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance as it is recited in schools, said Monday that it will not be contesting the ruling of a court that dismissed its lawsuit.
Reacting to the news, Samantha Jones, a senior at Highland Regional High School in Blackwood, New Jersey, who has been the face behind the fight against AHA to retain the phrase, expressed her joy over the fact that she will now be able to continue reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as is.
“I’m so grateful to know that I will be able to continue reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in peace. The phrase ‘under God’ protects all Americans—including atheists—because it reminds the government that it can’t take away basic human rights because it didn’t create them,” Jones said.
Last year, the atheist group had filed a suit against the New Jersey school district to drop the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance that students recite in school. In defense of its stance they argued that the statement seemed to tie patriotism to a belief in God, thereby making atheist school kids feel like second-class citizens.
“Public schools should not engage in an exercise that tells students that patriotism is tied to a belief in God,” David Niose, legal director of the group said last year. “Such a daily exercise portrays atheist and humanist children as second-class citizens, and certainly contributes to anti-atheist prejudices,” he added.
In a sharp response to the controversial lawsuit, Samantha Jones, with the help of her family, lodged a counter lawsuit in November, asking that the phrase not be removed as it only summed up the histories and values that have made America what it is today. “I’ve been reciting the pledge since preschool, and to me the phrase ‘one nation under God’ sums up the history and values that have made our country great,” Samantha said argued. “I think it’s empowering to know that, no matter what happens, I have some rights the government can never take away. No student should be silenced just because some people disagree with timeless American values,” she stated.
In February this year, Monmouth County Judge David F. Bauman passed the motion for the lawsuit to be dismissed, stating that the pledge “is not to be viewed … as a religious exercise.”
This will be the second time in two years a state court will deny the American Humanist Association’s request that the controversial phrase be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. Their earlier case in Massachusetts was rejected in court last year.