Advancing Religious Liberty
10/9/13 at 05:11 PM 6 Comments

Of Pledges and Proclamations: Protecting Public Expressions of Faith

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

It is impossible for any reasonable observer not to note the crucial role faith plays in our American culture – and yet there will always be those who want to push that role offstage. This fall, as usual, the attorneys of Alliance Defending Freedom are working vigorously on your behalf to block aggressive efforts to silence the voice of faith in the public square.

In Boston, for instance, our lawyers are working with the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) to keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, despite a determined assault on that phrase by a group of atheist parents and students who claim to be “offended” by the inclusion of those words in the Pledge.

Their lawsuit is now at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on appeal, after a lower court ruled in favor of the school district last year. (The lower court said the phrase “under God” serves as a clear “acknowledgment of the Founding Fathers political philosophy, and the historical and religious traditions of the United States.”) MFI and our attorneys have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, and the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District expressly incorporated most of the brief’s arguments into its defense of the law that makes the Pledge part of public school practice within the commonwealth.

“Simply being offended by something does not make it a violation of the Massachusetts Constitution,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “As the lower court found, the recitation is completely voluntary, and listening to the words ‘under God’ does not violate anyone’s constitutional freedoms.”

Neither do the prayer proclamations of government officials, despite what the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) might say. In Colorado, the FFRF filed suit in 2010 challenging the constitutionality of prayer proclamations by the state’s governor. (These proclamations are regularly presented by governors in honor of the National Day of Prayer.) FFRF lost a lower court ruling, then appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which reversed the ruling.

The Colorado attorney general has now appealed this case to the Colorado Supreme Court, where Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys – representing many state elected officials and the National Day of Prayer Task Force – have submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the court in defense of the proclamations.

“The governor should be as free to issue prayer proclamations as the founders of America and Colorado were,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Joel Oster. “State and federal courts all over the country have repeatedly upheld and recognized such proclamations as a deeply rooted part of American tradition and history.”

Please be in prayer for both of these cases, each of which could set a crucial legal precedent in defense of religious freedom. And pray, too, for our attorneys, as they work with cases like these coast to coast, determined to preserve that precious freedom for you and your family.

This post originally appeared here.

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