VICTORY: High School Senior Wins Case To Keep “Under God” in Pledge

Samantha Jones defeats atheist attack on the Pledge of Allegiance in New Jersey

For Immediate Release: February 6, 2015
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington D.C. – Samantha Jones, a high school student in New Jersey, successfully protected the right of all her fellow students to continue reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety. After hearing Samantha and her family’s case for the words ‘one nation under God,’ a state judge has decided to dismiss the American Humanist Association’s latest effort to take “under God” out of the Pledge.

“I’m so grateful the court decided that kids like me shouldn’t be silenced just because some people object to timeless American values,” said Samantha Jones a senior at Highland Regional High School. “Ever since I was little, I’ve recited the Pledge of Allegiance because it sums up the values that make our country great. The phrase ‘under God’ protects all Americans—including atheists—because it reminds the government that it can’t take away basic human rights because it didn’t create them.”

This is the second time a state court has stopped the American Humanist Association from outlawing the federal Pledge. Their first state-level suit, raising identical claims, was unanimously rejected by Massachusetts’ highest court last year.

When the Jones family found out about the lawsuit against the Pledge, they intervened to defend their children’s rights. They are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Historic defenders of the Pledge like the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, and the American Legion also intervened in the case.

“The message today is loud and clear: “God” is not a dirty word,” said Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The Pledge of Allegiance isn’t a prayer, and reciting it doesn’t magically create an official state religion. The Pledge—in the tradition of Washington’s Farewell Address or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address—is not a prayer to God, but a statement about who we are as a nation. Dissenters have every right to sit out the Pledge, but they can’t silence everyone else.”

This is the fifth time the Becket Fund has successfully defended the Pledge of Allegiance. Courts have pointed out that the Pledge is a voluntary patriotic exercise that teaches American history and civics, and that no schoolchild is required to recite the Pledge against his or her conscience. Becket Fund attorney Diana Verm argued the case to Judge Bauman, and James Paone of Freehold, New Jersey, acted as co-counsel.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket Fund attorney, please contact Emily Hardman at ehardman@becketfund.org or 202.349.7224.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians. Its recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in Holt v. Hobbs and Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

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