WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Sound Shore residents scoffed at the notion of removing the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance after the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit in New Jersey attempting to sue a local school district on behalf of atheists.
In Freehold, N.J., the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District and Superintendent David M. Healy have come under attack after a lawsuit was filed in Monmouth County Superior Court on Saturday, alleging that by acknowledging God in the pledge, it was a discriminatory act.
The lawsuit claims that by saying the pledge every day, the district is “publicly disparaging the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs and calling the plaintiffs’ patriotism into question.”
In Scarsdale, Eastchester brothers Zach and JoJo Austin questioned if it wouldn’t just be easier to sit down during the pledge, or not say the words, rather than going through the process of a lawsuit.
“Almost every school, in every town, in every state all across this country do the same thing every day. Why drum up all of this when there are some much easier things they and their children can do,” Zach, 29, said. “People have to do something they don’t want to all the time, I think they can suck it up for 30 seconds.”
The 25-year-old JoJo echoed his older brother’s sentiment, adding that it’s a pledge about the American flag, not about God.
Although the plaintiffs – which includes a male, female and married couple - have not yet been identified, and are instead under the umbrella of the American Humanist Association, JoJo said that it could blowback on the children that may have to continue in the district even after the hoopla of a nationally recognized lawsuit.
“They’re not asking them to get on their knees and pray in the middle of class,” he joked. “I wouldn’t want to be the handful of kids who support this while the rest of my class just stands up and says the pledge.”
Tuckahoe resident Dora Richards questioned why the American Humanist Association went straight for a lawsuit, rather than attempting to find an amenable solution with all parties involved.
“I’ll never understand the people who just see dollar signs and would rather wrap the world up in lawsuits rather than just talking it out,” she said. “There’s been how many of these lawsuits over the years, and not one has held up. I’m sure when my kids go to school on Thursday they’ll still be starting the day with the pledge.”