More than one-third of Americans support removing the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, according to a study released this week.
The study conducted in May
by The Seidewitz Group on behalf of the American Humanist Association (AHA), reports that 34 percent of respondents expressed support for adopting a new version of the pledge. It was released Sept. 2.
“The current wording of the Pledge marginalizes atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nontheists because it presents them as less patriotic, simply because they do not believe in God,” said Roy Speckhardt, AHA executive director
, in a press release.
The AHA, which advocates "an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces," frequently represents individuals or groups in lawsuits seeking to remove religious references from the public sphere.
In April, the Association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed a lawsuit
on behalf of a group of New Jersey parents to have "under God" removed from the Pledge.
The AHA, which queried 1,000 adults, said 21 percent of Christians support the removal of “under God,” while 43 percent of individuals of other faiths were favorable to the proposition.
Among those who had no specific faith, 62 percent backed the idea, while a clear majority (90 percent) of atheists wanted God removed.
The American Humanist Association will be announcing the launch of a new campaign on Sept. 8 to garner support for efforts to rewrite the Pledge, says the AHA statement.
According to an AHA statement, the study was initiated to respond to a 2013 poll by Lifeway Research
, which found only 8 percent of American adults supported deleting the reference to God in the Pledge.
In its survey, Lifeway Research, an evangelical research firm specializing in faith and religious issues, reported less than 1 in 10 Americans want to remove “under God” from the pledge.
That survey, which was conducted Sept. 6-10, 2013, did find that 25 percent of Americans believe forcing students to recite the Pledge is a violation of their constitutional rights.
Support for removing God was greatest among younger voters, Lifeway found. Fourteen percent of those ages 18-29 want to remove the phrase, compared to 5 percent of those over 64.
“Most Americans have recited the pledge hundreds of times and are not inclined to memorize a different pledge. Changing it may just feel wrong. Most Americans say they believe in God or a higher being and feel comfortable having ‘under God’ in the pledge.” Scott McConnell, director of Lifeway Research, said in a press release announcing their study's findings.
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