One nation, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
These words have long echoed throughout America’s history. Students rise, face the flag, and with hands over hearts, recognize the values that have historically united our nation and made the United States of America exceptional: faith, freedom, justice, and unity.
In Massachusetts, the law requires that the Pledge be recited in public schools every day, although no child is required to recite it and may abstain without providing a reason. However, the atheist and Humanist parents of three Massachusetts schoolchildren challenged the Pledge, arguing that the phrase “under God” conveys a message that those who disagree that our nation is “under God” are marginalized and excluded.
Last August, I joined a bipartisan group of 38 Members of Congress in supporting an amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, urging the court to uphold the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance as constitutional.
This month, the court held that “the fact that a school or other public entity operates a voluntary program or offers an activity that offends the religious beliefs of one or more individuals, and leaves them feeling ‘stigmatized’ or ‘excluded’ as a result, does not mean that the program or activity necessarily violates equal protection principles… As its history illustrates, the Pledge of Allegiance evolved as a common public acknowledgment of the ideals that our flag symbolizes. Its recitation is a patriotic exercise designed to foster national unity and pride in those principles.”
As a national symbol, the Pledge serves to unify Americans in remembrance of the fragile and precious freedoms we have in this country. I am proud to do my part in defending it.
Religious Freedom Coalition chairman William J. Murray has authored a complete history of the Pledge of Allegiance and the symbolism and importance of the words “under God” within it. Read more about William J. Murray’s “The Pledge: One Nation Under God,” to learn about the history of the Pledge Of Allegiance and of religious liberty in America.