...(read more)...The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld two religious freedom cases in San Francisco.
The court ruled on Thursday that the phrases "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" on coins and currency are both constitutional. The legal challenges had been brought by professed atheist Michael Newdow, who had claimed the references to God disrespect his atheist beliefs.
An attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) summarizes the court's ruling. "The court saw that both the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Motto -- "In God We Trust" -- do not violate the Establishment Clause, but rather they acknowledge the initial premises of our founding, which is that God gives each citizen inalienable rights," explains Kevin Snyder.
The rights of atheists and agnostics are included in those inalienable rights, Snyder notes, but not at the expense of people of faith. The court stressed that there is no violation of the so-called "separation of church and state," and Snyder reports that cases such as this continue to crop up periodically because "a segment of our society, particularly in law schools...wants to remove all semblances of religion from public life."