Taking God out of the Pledge - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Taking God out of the Pledge

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October 14, 2003

Albany - The Supreme Court will decide if a morning ritual for millions of students is unconstitutional. Justices agreed to hear the case of a California atheist who doesn't want his daughter to hear the pledge of allegiance in school. He sued to remove the words "One Nation under God" from the version used in public schools.

Ms. McKenzie's fifth grade class is learning about the skeletal system, as the nation's backbone of justice prepares to decide if the pledge of Allegiance blurs the line between church and state. "I think the pledge is a daily reminder of our loyalty to our country," said teacher Ellen McKenzie.

Lincoln Fundamental Elementary students start each day by reciting the pledge. The words come without thought for these kids who've said them thousands of times. "I remember learning the pledge when I was five," said student Emily Reese.

"My dad tried to teach me the pledge when I was five," said classmate Tracy Townsell.

McKenzie supports the pledge, but says she will also support the Supreme Court's decision if Justices do decide to remove the phrase "One nation under God" from the pledge. "I'm glad to see the case is going in front of our country's highest court. They will make a lawful and respectful decision," said McKenzie.

The pledge was first said on Columbus Day, October 12, 1892 with a reference to God. After a campaign by the Knights of Columbus in 1954, Congress added "One Nation Under God."

"I remember the change," said MzKenzie, who was in the 11th grade when the change was made. "I like the pledge better now."

"I think the flag shows support for our country.," said Townsell. "We should say the pledge and be proud of our freedom," echoed Reese.

Dougherty County Students have the choice not to say the pledge. These students say it would be hard to change the wording of the pledge now, but if the Supreme Court decides to take God out of the daily oath, they'll have to do just that.

A California federal appeals court sparked an uproar last year when it ruled the reference to God in the pledge makes it unconstitutional in public schools.

Posted at 6:05PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com