A federal appeals court in San Francisco has declared the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.
The court finds that it´s an endorsement of religion – and cannot be recited in schools. The Ninth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress that inserted the phrase “under God” after the words “one nation” in the pledge.
The court says the phrase violates the separation of church and state.
The case was brought by Michael A. Newdow, a Sacramento atheist, who objected because his second-grade daughter was required to recite the pledge at an Elk Grove School.
The ruling says the government had argued that the religious content of the phrase “one nation under God” is minimal.
Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote that saying “under God” isn´t neutral with respect to religion. He compares it to saying “under Vishnu” or “under Zeus.”
The court says that although children can´t be forced to say the pledge, the school district is still conveying endorsement of a religious belief when it requires it.
But the appellate court says it may reasonably appear to an atheist or a believer in certain non-Judeo-Christian religions or philosophies as an attempt impose monotheism on students.