ACTON, Mass., June 12 (UPI) -- A judge in Massachusetts affirmed the use of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance recited in public schools.
Middlesex Superior Court Judge S. Jane Haggerty's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by an atheist couple and their children against the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District and the Acton schools, the Boston Globe reported.
In her ruling, the judge said daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God" did not violate the plaintiffs' rights under the Massachusetts Constitution, did not violate the school district's anti-discrimination policy and did not violate state law.
The plaintiffs -- their names were not disclosed in court papers -- argued the phrase "under God" was a "religious truth" they said contradicted their beliefs, Haggerty said.
The judge said the phrase "under God" was not a religious truth.
She said the defendants called the pledge a patriotic exercise and statement of political philosophy instead of a religious document or ceremony.
Haggerty said the Pledge of Allegiance is a "voluntary patriotic exercise, and the inclusion of the phrase 'under God' does not convert the exercise into a prayer."
The daily flag salute and pledge, she said, are "clearly designed to inculcate patriotism and to instill a recognition of the blessings conferred by orderly government under the constitutions of the state and nation."