The U.S. Flag Code, a little known set of advisory laws that detail the proper conduct and handling of the Stars and Stripes, states that the pledge of allegiance “should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.” Students can ignore this rule, of course — it is, after all, only advisory — and choose to remain seated while other students pledge allegiance “under god.” But then there are those two little words. Should atheists and secularists have to recite them?
According to a suburban Boston family, they do not, and they’ve decided to challenge the two offending words in court, arguing that the wording is in breach of the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.
Children have the right to opt out of the pledge, but according to Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association, which is assisting the plaintiffs, “The opt-out itself is exclusionary and unpleasant” because children who do so are ostracized by their peers.
The court will begin deliberations on Wednesday.