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New Jersey (Voice of the Persecuted) Each morning, boys and girls at Glenview Elementary School in Haddon Heights gathered on the playground to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. For over a decade, they concluded by saying “God bless America.”
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 two kindergarten teachers began the tradition as an enduring way to honor those who lost their lives on that terrible day.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey sent the school board attorney a letter challenging the recital of “God Bless America” as unconstitutional.
Principal Sam Sassano says the school never required students to recite the pledge or “God bless America, it was entirely voluntary. It was a way to honor first responders after 9/11.
“We teach the children to be respectful,” he said. “So if they choose not to recite the pledge, they stand quietly. Nothing is forced on the child.”
Rather than engage in an expensive legal battle, Sassano sent an email to parents saying the school will look for alternate ways to honor those in the September 11th tragedy.
In this Fox News report Debi Krezel, the parent of a sixth-grader said,
“I’m very, very upset about this. Being a daughter, a sister, niece and cousin of veterans and first responders – (as well as) an American and a taxpayer – why are my rights and my child’s rights being taken away?”
Krezel praised Principal Sassano and she said she understands why the district had to do what it did – but that still doesn’t make it right.
“I don’t think it’s fair to us or our children,” she told me. “What are they going to take from us next? We are slowly chipping away the values and beliefs and traditions that (the nation) was created upon.”
Hiram Sasser, the director of litigation for Liberty Institute is quoted as saying that the ACLU is off base.
“Kids cannot be required to say it, but leading in the recitation of it is as constitutional as the national motto In God We Trust,” Sasser told me. “If singing God Bless America is good enough for New York, it should be good enough for New Jersey.”
The school will not prevent students from saying ‘God Bless America” on their own.
A Monmouth County family is suing a New Jersey school district, alleging that the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance is discriminatory because it asks students to pledge “under God.”
The family, represented by the American Humanist Association, claims that the daily pledge discriminates against atheists and violates the right to equal protection under the state Constitution. The association works to make sure atheists are treated equally in society. The lawsuit was filed in state Superior Court against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and its superintendent David M. Healy.
Public schools in New Jersey are required under state statute to have students salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance on each school day. The plaintiffs, parents of a minor who goes to school in the district, said that as atheists they do not accept the existence of a God or gods. They argue that the “under God” part of the pledge maligns their religious beliefs and calls their patriotism into question.
The “under God” language also fuels prejudice against atheists by casting them as outsiders and creating an “official public atmosphere of disapproval” of their religious views, said the plaintiffs, who filed the lawsuit anonymously.