A Massachusetts judge has ruled the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance do not violate the rights of an atheist couple and their children.
An atheist couple filed a lawsuit against the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, claiming the words violated their rights.
But Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty disagreed.
"The Pledge is a voluntary patriotic exercise, and the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' does not convert the exercise into a prayer," Haggerty wrote in her in her 24-page opinion.
The judge also noted that having students recite the pledge was not a violation of state law or the school's anti-discrimination policy.
School Superintendent Stephen Mills said the district is pleased with the judge's decision.
"We are pleased with the court's decision regarding the claim of discrimination," Mills said in a letter to his staff. "And we continue to work hard to provide a positive and accepting educational environment for all of the students in the communities that we serve."
According to attorney David Niose, the atheist couple who filed the case against the school system, is planning to appeal the ruling.