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5th Circuit Allows ‘Under|God’ in Texas Pledge

DALLAS (CN) - The phrase "one state under God" in the Texas Pledge of Allegiance is constitutional, the 5th Circuit ruled Wednesday. The court affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a Dallas couple who said the pledge violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

David and Shannon Croft challenged the pledge, which states: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement that the 5th Circuit "rejected a challenge to the Texas Pledge of Allegiance and found that it is constitutional for the state to acknowledge religious faith. This ruling marks not only a second consecutive victory for the state pledge, but also a victory for all Texans' constitutionally protected rights and freedoms."

The Texas Legislature added the words "under God" to the pledge in 2007. The Crofts challenged the phrase's constitutionality and sought an injunction.

The state argued in Federal Court that reciting the pledge is a patriotic exercise protected by the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion.

In its ruling, the 5th Circuit deemed the pledge "a patriotic exercise, and it is made no less so by the acknowledgement of Texas's religious heritage via the inclusion of the phrase 'under God.'"

The court disagreed with the plaintiffs' argument that the pledge endorses a particular religious belief.

"A pledge can constitutionally acknowledge the existence of, and even value, a religious belief without impermissibly favoring that value or belief, without advancing belief over non-belief, and without coercing participation in a religious exercise. Texas's pledge is of this sort and consequently survives this challenge."

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