Source: Beliefnet/Religion News Service
The Pledge of Allegiance, with its inclusion of the words "under God," is constitutional, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday (March 11), reversing a previous ruling.
The 2-1 ruling answers a challenge by California atheist Michael Newdow, who argued that the use of the pledge in a Northern California school district -- where children of atheists had to listen to others recite it-- violated the First Amendment's clause prohibiting the establishment of religion.
The "students are being coerced to participate in a patriotic exercise, not a religious exercise," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. "The Pledge is not a prayer and its recitation is not a religious exercise."