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Current Page: U.S. | Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Atheist Group Calls on Americans to Boycott the Pledge of Allegiance

Atheist Group Calls on Americans to Boycott the Pledge of Allegiance

The Haig family stands for the United States pledge of allegiance before a public reading the United States Declaration of Independence, part of Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations, in Boston, Massachusetts, July 4, 2013. | (Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

The American Humanist Association announced Monday a "Don't Say the Pledge" campaign, arguing that their recent AHA poll found a third of Americans support removing the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Christian groups dispute the poll's findings, saying other polls show overwhelming support for keeping the phrase.

Roy Speckhardt, executive director for AHA, told The Christian Post that the "under God" in the pledge leaves out atheists, and thus negates "the all-important 'indivisible' that follows."

"We have a responsibility to do what we can to make our pledge an appropriately inclusive one, regardless of whether or not we believe in a God," Speckhardt said.

Don't Say the Pledge was launched in response to the findings of a poll conducted by The Seidewitz Group on behalf of the AHA. The study was a six-question survey found online that was conducted on May 29 and had a sample space of 1,000 American adults.

Thirty-four percent of respondents supported removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, a number that is larger than previous studies from other entities.

The study also found that 21.4 percent of Christian respondents, 40.9 percent of respondents professing different faiths, and 62.7 percent of those with no religious affiliation supported the removal.

Added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, the phrase "under God" has attracted several legal challenges in the past several years. In May, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a lawsuit attempting to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

"Although the words 'under God' undeniably have a religious tinge, courts that have considered the history of the pledge and the presence of those words have consistently concluded that the pledge, notwithstanding its reference to God, is a fundamentally patriotic exercise, not a religious one," concluded the court.

"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," the opinion stated.

Speckhardt argues that "externalizing one's right to sit it out is the best way to demonstrate one's support for changing to the original, more inclusive version."

"We don't have a way to keep track of people participating in the sit-out, but we anticipate hearing from a number of those who do," Speckhardt said.

Speckhardt told CP that the legal arm of AHA is overseeing a lawsuit in New Jersey, but that the case "still has a long way to go before any decision is reached."

"I've been asked why we don't advocate for just not saying those two words? If omitting the phrase isn't noticed by others, it isn't entirely honest, since only the speaker will know they've quietly not said them," Speckhardt said.

"And everyone will falsely assume that there's universal support for the pledge as it is worded. Noticed or not, more is needed to challenge the prejudiced view of government taking sides on God-belief," he added.

Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, was skeptical of the Don't Say the Pledge campaign.

In an interview with CP, Weber said he believes the AHA "is resorting to these tactics because its efforts elsewhere have failed."

"Recent polls have shown that at least nine out of 10 Americans support keeping the pledge as is. Most people can see right through such efforts as those the AHA engages in here; and thus, the group is only increasingly marginalizing itself," Weber said.

"The AHA's own motto is 'good without a God.' Well, we all have gods — it's just a matter of what we choose to worship. One only has to look at Soviet Communism to realize that not all gods are equal, and it's not really possible to have good without God," Weber asserted.

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