MIDDLESEX COUNTY, Mass. (CBS Connecticut) — An atheist family has lost their challenge to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

A Middlesex Superior Court judge ruled against the Massachusetts family’s lawsuit that claims their kids were being discriminated against by the Acton-Boxborough school district for being forced to say “under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance.

The family will appeal the ruling.

“No child should go to school every day, from kindergarten to grade twelve, to be faced with an exercise that defines patriotism according to religious belief,” David Niose, the family’s attorney and the president of the American Humanist Association, said in a press release. “If conducting a daily classroom exercise that marginalizes one religious group while exalting another does not violate basic principles of equal rights and nondiscrimination, then I don’t know what does.”

Niose argued that the state has a right to protect religious minorities despite not challenging the federal statute that added the words “under God” to the Pledge in 1954.

“If the federal government decides to write a discriminatory Pledge, the Massachusetts Constitution nevertheless protects children in the Commonwealth from the discrimination that would occur from daily recitation of the Pledge in classrooms,” Niose said, adding the daily recitation of the Pledge is a form of indoctrination.

The family, only known as John and Jane Doe in the lawsuit, have three kids attending school in the district.

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