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Mass. court hears Pledge of Allegiance challenge

BOSTON (AP) — A lawyer for an atheist family has asked Massachusetts' highest court to ban the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in state public schools.

In arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court on Wednesday, a lawyer for the Acton family argued that the words "under God" in the pledge discriminate against atheist students.

The lawyer argues that the reference defines patriotism as someone who believes in God.

Lawyers for the school district and another family who want to keep the Pledge of Allegiance in schools say reciting it is voluntary and students can leave out the reference to God or choose not to participate.

Last year, a state judge found that the rights of the atheists were not violated by the words "under God."

The family appealed the ruling.

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