The couple, identified only as "John and Jane Doe" in court papers, filed a lawsuit seeking to remove "under God" from the Pledge, arguing it violates the state's nondiscrimination law. The couple said their children would be labeled "unpatriotic" when they refused to recite the pledge in school.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this month ruled against the couple.
"The fact that a school or other public entity operates a voluntary program or offers an activity that offends the religious beliefs of one or more individuals, and leaves them feeling ‘stigmatized’ or ‘excluded’ as a result, does not mean that the program or activity necessarily violates equal protection principles," Chief Justice Roderick Ireland wrote, according to the Boston Globe.
"We are very disappointed by the court’s ruling," said David Niose, legal director for the American Humanist Association, in a statement. The association filed the lawsuit on behalf of the couple.
"No child should go to public school every day ... and be faced with an exercise that portrays his or her religious group as less patriotic," Niose added.Undeterred, the humanist association recently filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of a New Jersey couple.
"We continue to strive for the rights of Americans who are good without a god, working in the courts of law and the courts of public opinion," said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. "With the growing numbers of humanists and atheists across the country, it’s only a matter of time before we restore the Pledge of Allegiance to the more inclusive ‘one nation indivisible.'"