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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"Under God" Press Release



San Francisco, CA.--"We are very disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has failed to uphold the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately, the court majority saw fit to render a decision based on a technicality, not on the merits of the case. They have shirked their responsibility to give lower courts guidance on an important aspect of First Amendment law," said Jim Heldberg, Coordinator of San Francisco Atheists.

The Founding Fathers who drafted the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution intended all Americans to have both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. They understood that in order for America to flourish as an open and energetic democracy that government could not mandate religion or religious beliefs. Therefore, when Congress inserted the words under God into the Pledge of Allegiance as a political act in 1954, they did so illegally and with intent to coerce Americans into stating a religious belief. "If the words under God have no religious meaning," said Heldberg, "then why were they put into the Pledge? A Baptist minister wrote the original pledge, and even he did not include those words."

"Bay Area Atheists, the Humanist Community, as well as many others in the community of non-belief, applaud Dr. Michael Newdow, who brought the Pledge suit to the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a courageous man, and we're grateful for his steadfast pursuit of this cause and protection of the First Amendment," said Heldberg.

The Court will not be able to avoid facing the issue indefinitely, as a suit similar to Newdow's is likely to be filed by American Atheists.

American Atheists and other Bay Area groups will rally Tuesday, June 15th in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals building (Seventh and Mission Streets, San Francisco) at 9:00 a.m.

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