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Acton Family Wants "Under God" Cut from the Pledge of Allegiance

Doe vs. the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District: Where do you stand when it comes to your children reciting "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?

An atheist Acton family that has chosen to remain anonymous is suing the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, declaring that saying “one nation under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against their children.

State law dictates that schools deliver the pledge every day, but does not force students to recite it. Despite this, the local family says the phrase “under God” should be taken out of the pledge.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty heard both sides of the argument in court Feb. 13, and will decide the issue in the coming months. According to David Niose, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, named as Jane and John Doe to protect their children's identities, the religious content in the daily pledge is discriminatory.

“If the Pledge of Allegiance said that we are one nation under Jesus you wouldn’t have any trouble understanding why Muslims, Hindus and Jews would feel that pledge discriminates against them,” said Niose. “It is really the same thing here. There has been a line drawn that includes those who believe the nation is one nation under God and if you’re not in that circle you’re excluded.”

According to Superintendent of Schools Stephen Mills, the case has cost the school district $10,000.

“I’m in the middle of trying to get a $70 million budget approved for my school and here I am spending my day in court,” said Mills. “I would prefer to spend the money on textbooks. I’m already getting emails from people far away saying things like, ‘don’t you know Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior?’ But it comes with the job.”

Mills has 34 years of experience in public education and said that he has experienced students choosing not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance but never once has a student been discriminated against or punished for making that choice.

Thomas J. Dyer February 18, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Alan in all seriousness if Mills were to indicate that all schools would do this 2x this would be a great compromise and could squelch increase cost to a silly lawsuit, legal though it may to file it is silly to go after a school district it is the wrong defendant.
Michael February 18, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Allen, I was trying to provide a solution with an idea of allowing students to opt-in with saying "under God" if that is what they believe. Clearly you disagree with them exercising their first amendment of free speech now. Remember, as of now no one is forcing anyone to utter the word "God" or even say the pledge for that matter. It is purely voluntary. Under your scenario, those words would be forbidden even if people wanted to say them despite their right to free speech. That's not forcing one's opinion on someone else? By the way, you've defended this family's right to sue on the basis of personal belief and because they felt threatened, but if you actually read the Beacon, they are one of two plaintiffs. The other is the American Humanist Association, a nonprofit incorporated in Illinois and located in Washington, D.C. So it seems it simply isn't about one family's belief, but an agenda. You seem to think that because someone speaks up against this frivolous lawsuit we are trying to pressure them into dropping it. On the contrary, it demonstrates that some people have principles, values, and convictions they feel strongly about.
Tee Lemieux February 20, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Get over yourselves! If you don't like it here then go buy an island and create your own system/way of life and live there. And by the way...don't use our money anymore either...God is on it...so don't use it to buy all the items that bring happiness into your life. As for the children....home-school them if it offends you. That's the beauty of America...."Let Freedom Ring"! They are not forced to say the allegience. They are not forced to believe in God. They are not forced to live here. We have Freedoms that people fight for! Stop your darn Belly-aching. Use your freedoms to bring up your family the way you want. We don't stop you from being an athiest....that's freedom. You are welcome to live in America...that's freedom. We don't force you....that's FREEDOM baby (Austin Powers) lol...enjoy it and stop looking for special treatment.
“In God We Trust”… Adopted as the official motto of the U.S. in 1956. On most U.S. currency since 1864 and on all U.S. currency since 1954 (Eisenhower admin) when also added to the U.S. pledge of allegiance. Reaffirmed by the U.S. Senate on its 50th anniversary in 2006. Similar language in the Star Spangled Banner. References: U.S. Treasury: http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx ; Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust White House: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2006/07/20060727-12.html Legal and religious challenges before? Many. Successful to date? No. Could change under U.S. or even State law or constitution? Sure. Arguments to do so? Of course and those against. But who’s issue is it? Acton Public Schools? Change the U.S. pledge and motto? Stop taking U.S. currency in the cafeteria and book stores? When did Acton PS get jurisdiction? Despite 30+ years of swearing to uphold the U.S. constitution (has “Lord”) and two state constitutions that guarantee freedom of speech & right to access to the courts, I just don’t get it. No reason for Acton PS to work this issue. And exercising the right of anonymity is unconscionable. Just stop. Withdraw the suit. Call or write John Kerry, Scott Brown or Niki Tsongas. Or sue the U.S. not APS. Paul Henrion for ACLI http://www.facebook.com/pages/Acton-Community-Leading-Initiatives/224227354327760
Jim Snyder-Grant November 25, 2012 at 02:03 PM
The Acton pledge case is about to get to the MA supreme court. Overview article here: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/local/ci_22025460/sjc-hear-pledge-allegiance-case

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