Patt Morrison for February 21, 2012

Does the Pledge of Allegiance discriminate against atheists?

Kindergardners Participate In National Pledge of Allegiance

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sarah Henderson (L) and children from Mrs. Morrow's kindergarden class at Sunderland Elementry school recite the Pledge of Allegiance September 17, 2002 in Sunderland, Maryland.

When it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance chanted by children daily in schools across America, the critical phrase “one nation under God” is up for debate. In Acton, Mass., anonymous parents of three kids are suing the school district over the Pledge of Allegiance. They claim “one nation under God” discriminates against atheists.

The parents, filing their lawsuit as John and Jane Doe, say the phrase “under God” is unfair to their kids, who they’re raising as atheists, and that it suggests people who don’t believe in God are less patriotic than others. The phrase “under God” wasn’t added until 1954 to the pledge, which was first written in 1892. On the flip side of the issue, Utah Republican Sen. Aaron Osmond has introduced a bill that would require a student to lead the Pledge of Allegiance each morning in class rather than have it broadcast over a loudspeaker. Sen. Osmond says his bill would foster a deeper respect for the pledge and make the experience more “intimate.”

WEIGH IN:

Do you think the Pledge of Allegiance discriminates against atheists? Should it be recited in classrooms daily?

Guests:

David Niose, managing attorney, Law Offices of David Niose; he is the attorney representing the parents of three atheist school children

Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Aaron Osmond, Utah State Senator (R-Salt Lake); he has introduced a bill that would require a student to lead the Pledge of Allegiance each morning in class


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