One nation under God prevails

by Karen L. Willoughby, |

BLACKWOOD, N.J. (Christian Examiner) – A high school senior faced off with a group of grownup "bullies" and won with the help of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The American Humanist Association filed suit against Samantha Jones' school, Highland Regional High, last year in an effort to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. The group had tried the same thing the previous year in Massachusetts, and lost there too.

Jones contacted the Becket Fund who helped her join the lawsuit and prevail.

"I'm so grateful the court decided that kids like me shouldn't be silenced just because some people object to timeless American values," Jones said in a press release.

"The same laws that protect the atheists' world view, protect mine," Jones added in an opinion posted to the website. "I will not let them silence me. ... 'Under God' acknowledges that our rights don't come from the government but from a higher power. The government cannot be allowed to take away the basic human rights it did not create."

This is the fifth time the Becket Fund has successfully defended the Pledge of Allegiance. Each argument offered by atheists has been overwhelmingly rejected in every state and federal challenge to the patriotic exercise.

Courts consistently have ruled saying the pledge has value in teaching American history and civics, and, because it is voluntary, a student does not have to violate her or his conscience if she or he objects.

The root of the matter is that the phrase "under God" is a statement of political philosophy, not theology.

"The message today is loud and clear," said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund. "'God' is not a dirty word."

"The Pledge of Allegiance isn't a prayer, and reciting it doesn't magically created an official state religion," Rassbach continued. "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 symbolic act if they choose, Rassbach added.

"I think it's empowering to know that no matter what happens, I have some rights the government can never take away," Jones wrote in her opinion piece posted on Fox. "It is an honor to have the opportunity to stand up to those bullies, [the American Humanist Association} and I'm delighted that a court has stood up for what's right."