Pledge Protection Act Is 'Extreme, Unwise,' Religious Watchdog Group Says

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - A religious watchdog group is calling on the U.S. House to reject a "court-stripping" bill blocking federal lawsuits involving the Pledge of Allegiance.

The House votes this week on H.R. 2028, dubbed the "Pledge Protection Act." Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the bill "extreme and unwise" in a letter to congressmen Tuesday. The group said it will threaten the independence of the judiciary and the rights of religious minorities.

"This measure yanks from the federal courts the ability to ensure fundamental constitutional rights for all Americans," said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn in a statement. "It is a shameless effort to curry favor of the Religious Right during this election season.

"This bill is especially harmful to religious minorities that object to reciting the Pledge on grounds of conscience," added Lynn. "This measure would slam the federal courthouse door in their faces and deny them the right to seek justice."

Americans United is leading a coalition of religious, civil rights and other public interest groups in opposition to the bill.

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