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New Jersey school district sued over ‘under God’ in pledge

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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.

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