New Jersey School Will Stop Saying “God Bless America” After Pledge Due to ACLU Intervention

You’d think having kids say the Pledge of Allegiance would get the God fix out of the way for administrators who want religion in school.

At Glenview Elementary School in New Jersey, however, students are told to say “God bless America” after the Pledge — because I guess if the kids don’t say it, Jesus won’t get his wings. It’s a tradition that’s been going on since 9/11. Now, the ACLU is telling the District to put a stop to it, arguing that there’s no way invoking God like that is merely ceremonial.

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Principal Sam Sassano says the school will back down from making it a formal part of the day, though it’s clear that students will still be encouraged to say it on their own.

Sassano said Monday that the tradition, one the school has never formally taught to nor required of students, began with two kindergarten teachers who wished to show support to first responders and victims in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

“It just became sort of a habit,” said Sassano, who has been principal at the Sycamore Street school since 2005. “Now it’s part of the culture here.”

In his letter to parents, Sassano said that the school was mindful of the line separating church and state, but that “it has been our view that the practice is fundamentally patriotic in nature and does not invoke or advance any religious message, despite the specific reference to God’s blessing.”

However, his letter acknowledged, “Whether the practice of having the students say ‘God bless America’ at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance is more akin to religious prayer or simply a manifestation of patriotism has no clear cut legal answer.”

If it’s merely patriotic, then let’s replace it with “God won’t bless America, so let’s be active citizens and always work toward a more perfect union.” They won’t do that. Patriotism for these people is synonymous with pushing their God on everyone else.

Some of the parents in the community seem just as ignorant as the administrators, assuming it’s okay for a formal prayer to be included in the morning ritual:

Giovanna Giumarello, walking with her son Gabriel, a fifth-grader at the school, said she was “shocked” when she saw Sassano’s letter, though she did not blame him for the controversy.

“I was just talking to someone about it, and we said what a great tribute it is, to our country and to free speech and religion,” she said. “It’s really a shame that one person had to have a problem with it, and now it has to change.”

They always blame the whistleblower, forgetting that they would be the ones up in arms if the prayer was said to a God they didn’t believe in.

Get over it. The kids can say it on their own. The only change is that the school’s staff can’t lead students in saying it. That’s it. Hardly anything to get worked up over.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Jim for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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