Pledge of Allegiance wording causes controversy in Acton
WOBURN, Mass. -- An Acton couple says that they want the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance changed because they say it discriminates against their children.
“This is about a daily exercise that favors a particular religious view and defines patriotism according to a particular religious belief,” said Attorney David Niose.
Niose argued on behalf of his clients John and Jane Doe; two anonymous parents of three Acton school children. They want the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. They say it discriminates against their children who are being raised at Atheists.
“That suggests that people who don’t believe in God are less patriotic than others, and that’s just not the truth. Humanists and Atheists are citizens, they pay their taxes, they get good grades,” said Niose.
But, the school’s superintendent says he is obligated by state law to have students recite the pledge, but if any child doesn’t want to, he or she does not have to.
“There is absolutely no recrimination, no negative consequence ever against a child that chooses not to say the pledge, or in this particular case, simply say the pledge and not say the words ‘under God,’” said Dr. Stephen Mills, Acton-Boxboro schools superintendent.
Ironically, another family is counter-suing, saying that changing the pledge discriminates against their children.
“They’re asking for my clients to be silenced and not to be able to say the pledge at all. That’s not right,” said Eric Rassback, Beckett Fund Religious Liberty.
The school department has spent $10,000 on the case, which began a year and a half ago.
Acton residents had mixed reactions on the matter.
“I think it’s appropriate actually. We should have a complete separation of church and state,” said John Rue, a concerned resident.
“I think it’s ridiculous. If you don’t want to say it then don’t say it,” said Bonnie Rosse, a concerned resident.
The judge took the matter under advisement, but no matter what the outcome, both sides are so determined on the matter that the case will likely be taken to the state’s Supreme Court by this fall.
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