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Pledge of Allegiance Debate

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Every morning across the United States of America, over 60 million teachers and students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But, in 2002, a California man named Dr. Michael Newdow, sued the federal and state governments and his daughter's local school board because the words "under God" in the Pledge offended him, as he and his family are atheists (do not believe in God). The California court agreed, saying the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional.

Two years later, on June 14, 2004, the Supreme Court over-ruled the California courts decision - leaving the words "under God" in the constitution for now. The ruling comes on the 50th anniversary of the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge.

The Issues - Pros and Cons of "under God"

Because it is law for religion and government to be separate, Dr. Michael Newdow took his case to court, and won. Judge Alfred T. Goodwin declared the Pledge to be unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court thought otherwise. Because Dr. Michael Newdow does not have "sufficient custody" of his daughter (Dr. Newdow and his wife are separated, so for now his daughter doesn't live with him full time), the Supreme Court says that Dr. Newdow doesn't have the legal right to sue on his daughter's behalf. Michael Newdow says he will still continue his fight to have the words "under God" removed from the Pledge.

Pledge of Allegiance 101

If you're unfamiliar with the Pledge of Allegiance, here's what it says:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

What Does It All Mean?

Children across the United States will continue to say the Pledge of Allegiance as it is written. However, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court does leave things open for others to still challenge the Pledge. If, for instance, Michael Newdow had full custody of his daughter, the result of this court case may have been different.

"Under God" - The History

Many argued that removing the words "under God" would be tampering with American tradition, but the truth is, the phrase "under God" was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954. During the Cold War, the words were added to separate the United States from the "godless Communists".

What do you think about the Pledge of Allegiance debate? !

  • To find out what Kidzworld members have to say about the Pledge of Allegiance case, click here.

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