An Acton couple, who are atheists and identified only as "John and Jane Doe," filed a legal challenge demanded the phrased be removed. They have three students in the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, according to the Boston Globe.
The couple argued their children would be labeled 'unpatriotic' if they refused to take the pledge.
“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, the Globe reported.
A lawyer representing the couple previously said, “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. 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.”
Daniel and Ingrid Joyce, another Acton couple with children in the school system, filed a separate legal challenge to keep the phrase in the pledge.
Last month, a New Jersey couple filed lawsuit to have "under God" removed from the pledge. That state's court system has yet to issue a ruling.