(Salon) -- Just in time for back to school: In Massachusetts this week, a venerable classroom tradition is facing a high court challenge. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court is currently weighing an atheist couple’s argument that the words “under God” be struck from the Pledge of Allegiance, because they claim the phrase is exclusionary to atheist children like theirs. In other news – wait, why are school children still saying the Pledge of Allegiance anyway?
The anonymous couple’s attorney David Niose contends that “This case presents an unpopular and wrongly vilified minority facing discrimination” by a state “promoting and propagating the idea that good patriots are God believers.” Though it’s mandatory for teachers to lead students in the Pledge each day, it’s voluntary for students to say it. Last year, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty ruled that the “under God” clause “does not convert the exercise into a prayer” and does not violate children’s rights. OK, but who wants to be the one 7-year-old to sit out something the authority figure just invited the whole class to do?