, Salem, MA

February 12, 2014

Letter: Leave Pledge of Allegiance alone

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Each morning, schoolchildren begin their day by voluntarily reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Any student has the right to refuse. The American Humanist Association, an atheist legal group, has argued in various courts that the pledge, including the words “under God,” be erased from our classrooms.

During the past 20 years, many schools have been targets of terrorism, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries. Students who attend elementary and high schools should be allowed to exercise their rights under the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution to recite their allegiance to a flag that is the shining light and symbol of freedom.

This ongoing legal battle has reached Massachusetts. On Sept. 4, 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, composed of seven judges, heard arguments in the case. ...

The wording contained in the Pledge of Allegiance is not that of a religious prayer. It’s a brief moment to remember the millions who sacrificed their lives on behalf of our freedom. Attorney David Niose, former president of the American Humanist Association, is representing the plaintiffs. Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, intervened on behalf of a family in the Acton-Boxborough Regional school district, the defendant in this case who would like to have their child continue to recite the pledge as it is presently written. Diana Verm, legal counsel at the Becket Fund, gets to the root of this legal issue by saying, “Members of the American Humanist Association have the right to remain silent if they want to, but they don’t have the right to silence everyone else. I am confident the high court will conclude no finding of discrimination and no violation regarding separation of church and state.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently. Therefore, in my opinion, when that person is presented with a choice, he or she is given equal opportunity.

Nicholas J. Daley