'Under God' Ruling Marks Religious Rights Victory

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A New Hampshire judge ruled, Wednesday, not to ban the phrase "under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance in the state's public schools, dismissing claims by an atheist group that its inclusion was unconstitutional.

Chief Judge Steven McAuliffe decided the phrase "neither advances nor inhibits religion" and is included in the pledge to enhance student's knowledge of U.S. history and provide a sense of patriotism.

Lawmakers also decided to uphold America's Christian heritage by displaying the phrase 'In God We Trust' at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.  Click play for more.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the suit in 2007 on behalf of parents and students who refused to say the pledge because it included a reference to God. The group claimed the pledge coerced children to participate in religion by reciting the phrase.

The American Center for Law and Justice - a prominent Christian legal rights group thatparticipated in the case-- applauded the court's decision to uphold Supreme Court precedent.

"We're extremely pleased with the sound and well reasoned decision issued by the court," said Jay Sekulow, ACLJ Chief Counsel. "The court concluded that the New Hampshire statute giving students an opportunity to voluntarily recite the Pledge in school is constitutional and consistent with the First Amendment."

The court ruling stated that the pledge statute implemented by the New Hampshire school district does not persuade children in religion in any way.

Sekulow praised the ruling calling it, "a decision that rejects another attempt to rewrite history by targeting the Pledge and the phrase 'under God.'"

In 1954, Congress added the words "under God" to the pledge after a campaign by the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, the Knights of Columbus.

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