Actress Julianna Margulies stands with others at her table during the Pledge of Allegiance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington… No report of whether they uttered ‘Under God’ or not. (Joshua Roberts/ Reuters)
WaPo: The Pledge of Allegiance does not discriminate against atheists and can be recited at the start of the day in public schools, Massachusetts’ highest court ruled Friday.
The Supreme Judicial Court said the words “under God” in the pledge reflect patriotic practice, not a religious one. The court acknowledged that the wording has a “religious tinge” but said it is fundamentally patriotic and voluntary.
The court was ruling in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by an atheist family from Acton who claimed that the daily recitation of the pledge in classrooms violated their three children’s equal protection rights under the state constitution, which protects against discrimination. The family was not identified in the lawsuit.
The phrase “under God,” which was added to the pledge in 1954, has been the subject of numerous lawsuits over the years.
Citizenship ceremony canceled over banning of opening prayer
AP: A New Jersey town has canceled a naturalization ceremony at its borough hall because federal immigration officials refused to let the event begin with a prayer.
Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman said he had requested that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relocate the Saturday ceremony, which will now be held in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Newark office.
Katie Tichacek Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the immigration agency, said it’s a long-standing policy to make sure naturalization ceremonies are “conducted in a meaningful manner which is welcoming and inclusive and excludes political, commercial and religious statements.”
Both Reiman and immigration officials cited Monday’s Supreme Court opinion affirming the right of local governments to include certain prayers in official proceedings. Reiman said the ruling means he should be able to open any event at city hall with a prayer and a moment of silence. The citizenship agency said the high court’s ruling does not mean federal agencies are required to include prayers as part of their ceremonies.
Carteret is a central New Jersey borough of about 24,000 residents just west of Staten Island.