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The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance is not religious, despite the phrase “under God.”
An atheist couple whose child is in the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, along with the American Humanist Society, said that the phrase violated their child’s religious and equal rights. However, Chief Justice Roderick Ireland and a unanimous court disagreed in their ruling on Friday, reports The Boston Globe. he also disagreed with the couple’s assertion that their child would be called “unpatriotic” or treated any differently if the child refused to say the pledge.
“There is no evidence ... that the Doe children have ever been subjected to any type of punishment, bullying or other mistreatment, criticism, condemnation, or ostracism as a result of not participating in the pledge or not reciting the words ‘under God,” Ireland wrote.
Ireland wrote that the court could not simply rule something unconstitutional if there was no hard evidence of rights being violated or if because the person simply didn’t agree with the pledge, especially if the child isn’t being forced to say that phrase.
“Reciting the pledge is a voluntary patriotic exercise, but it is not a litmus test for defining who is or is not patriotic,” Ireland wrote. “The schools confer no ‘privilege’ or ‘advantage’ of patriotism ... to those who recite the pledge in its entirety.”