A family of Humanists in Massachusetts just asked a judge to order an end to the state mandated, teacher led, daily declaration in public schools that the nation is “under God" via the Pledge of Allegiance.
The one previous challenge that reached the Supreme Court of the United States was based on the First Amendment, but they dismissed the case on a technicality without ruling on 'Under God', stating that the plaintiff who brought the case lacked standing.
This case uses a different tactic. It's the first to seek equal rights for atheists and humanists based on the right to equal protection under a state constitution. The legal basis is that (1) any public school activity of a patriotic nature must be nondiscriminatory and (2) “under God” discriminates against atheists and humanists by making believers into patriotic insiders, and nonbelievers into unpatriotic outsiders.
In many ways, the case is following the same roadmap that gay rights advocates used in Massachusetts starting in 2003. They sued the state citing the same equal rights guarantees and won the legal right to marry. Massachusetts became the first state to issue gay marriage licenses and then gay rights advocates in other states copied the same model.
So this could be huge with 'Under God'. The idea is that if this tactic wins with 'Under God' in Massachusetts, then it could win for atheists in other states who adopt the same methods. I suppose, as with marriage equality, we'd end up with two different kinds of states where the Pledge is concerned. Kids in the red states will be saying the post-McCarthyism pledge, and kids in the blue states will be saying the pre-McCarthyism Pledge. Up north we'll be "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice" and down south we'll be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice."
What do you think? Will 'Under God' prevail in Massachusetts? Or will atheists finally win equal rights under the law like everyone else? If we do, do you think it will proliferate to other states? Why or why not?
If the atheists win in Mass. you can bet that Alabama will pass a law making prayer mandatory to receive any state services.
They'll likely try, but since that's illegal already, I doubt it'll stand. The school system I went to in Mississippi had a mandatory "Minute of Silence" in during which students were encouraged to pray. A cheap work around. I was mocked because I didn't even close my eyes during that sixty seconds. Luckily though, the teacher I had for first period wasn't particularly religious.
How did they know you didn't close your eyes?
Good one. :)
Here in the South where some still feel Blue Laws were a good thing I kinda doubt the pledge will be willingly altered back to it's original state. It will just give the theists in my state reason to chime about how their faith continues to come under attack. They are very obtuse about understanding the real meaning of freedom from religion and separation of church and state. Hell, most of them would sign on to a bill that declares christianity as the official state religion and see no problem with it.
The current version of the pledge is the most un-Constitutional law I can think of. It should have been struck down years ago by Federal courts. The fact that they didn't is a scandal in my opinion. Part of the problem, I suspect, was that attention was focused on the wrong arguments. Read this to find out the right one:
Well thank god we agree on something, Gallup!