17-year-old high school senior Samantha Jones appeared on Mike Huckabee’s show Saturday to talk about why she is fighting to keep “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in New Jersey.
The phrase is under fire once again, this time from the American Humanist Association (AHA), which filed a suit earlier this year claiming that saying “under God” in the Pledge “marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots.” They have started a “Don’t Say The Pledge” campaign, which encourage students to refuse to say the Pledge until the words “under God” are removed.
Even though she lives in a different school district, a New Jersey court granted Jones and her siblings the right to intervene in the case. They are being represented by the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which has successfully defended the Pledge at both the state and federal levels.
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While on the show, Jones told Huckabee that, to her, “the phrase, ‘one nation under God,’ sums up the history and values that have made our country great.” When Huckabee asked why the phrase is so important to her and why she doesn’t just leave it out, Jones explained:
“A lot of different people with a lot of different beliefs call this country home. So I think that everyone’s beliefs are protected by this right, including atheists’. Because it does acknowledge that our rights don’t come from the government, but from a higher power. So they can’t take away the basic human rights it did not create.”
Emily Hardman, a Beckett Fund attorney who appeared on the show with Jones, elaborated:
“This is not a religious theology. This is a political philosophy–that our rights don’t come from the government, but from a higher power, so the government can’t take those rights away… They (the AHA) are trying to silence people, and the bottom line is, they have the right to remain silent, but they don’t have the right to silence everybody else. ”
This is not the first time the AHA has tried to have “under God” taken out of the Pledge. After three failed attempts to have it removed at the federal level, they sued at the state level in Acton-Boxborough, Massachusetts. That suit was unanimously rejected by the Massachusetts Supreme Court in May of this year. According to a Becket Fund summary of the Massachusetts case, “the court ruled that no child must be silenced from reaffirming timeless American ideals because others disagree.”
Saying the Pledge of Allegiance is a voluntary exercise that students do not have to participate in, a fact that has helped win cases against the removal of the controversial phrase in the past. The Beckett Fund is confident they will win again. They will go to court this week to try to get the case dismissed, and then wait for a decision.
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h/t BizPac Review
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