An atheist group launched a national campaign Monday urging people to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance until the phrase “under God” is removed.
The American Humanist Association launched the campaign that will be supported by YouTube video spots and bus stop ads in New York and Washington D.C., according to The Washington Times.
In a Sept. 8 press release AHA executive director Roy Speckhardt said the boycott on the pledge was designed to restore it to its original wording.
“We want everyone to know that the current wording of the Pledge discriminates against atheists and others who are good without a god, and we want them to stand up for fairness by sitting down until the Pledge is restored to its original, unifying form,” Speckhardt said.
The words “under God” were not part of the original pledge. They were added in 1954, during the Cold War and McCarthy era, when religious groups felt that adding such language would help distinguish the U.S. from the communist Soviet Union.
The AHA filed a lawsuit in April on behalf of New Jersey families who objected to their children having to recite the words.
“The Soviet Union fell in 1991, and the need, if there ever was any, to distinguish America in this manner from communist adversaries no longer exists,” a portion of the lawsuit reads, according to USA Today.
The current call for boycott comes on the heels of a Sept. 2 press release from the AHA that claims 34 percent of Americans support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Alliance.
A May 2014 poll showed that only 8 percent were willing to remove the phrase but those respondents were not told about the history of the phrase’s addition.
The 34 percent figure is based on poll results taken from respondents who answered that they were in favor of changing the language back after they were informed that “under God” was a relatively recent addition to the pledge.
“We are encouraged by these findings, which suggest with even a small amount of education, more Americans are in favor of restoring the Pledge to its original wording,” Speckhardt said.
The survey was conducted by the Seidewitz Group and 1,000 individuals were polled.