« Can a pastor get some peace? LA Times reports on Warren’s Christmas Eve sermon | Main | Most Read of 2008 »

December 31, 2008

Atheists File Suit to Block Inaugural Prayer

Led by a California atheist who has tried to remove the phrase "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, a group of atheists filed suit in federal court Tuesday (Dec. 30) to block prayers and mentions of God at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan 20.

Michael Newdow, joined in his complaint by 11 atheist and humanist groups, filed similar, unsuccessful suits in 2001 and 2005, when President Bush was sworn in. He has also tried to remove the reference to God in the pledge of allegiance, arguing that it constitutes an illegal government endorsement of religion.

The suit names Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will swear in the new president, as well as California megachurch pastor Rick Warren and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who will deliver the invocation and benediction, respectively, and other inauguration planners.

By adding the words "so help me God" to the oath of office, as Supreme Court chief justices and presidents have done since at least 1933, Roberts would "infuse the inaugural ceremony with purely religious dogma," the atheists charge. The atheists also object to the place of the Bible in the ceremony -- Obama has asked for the copy used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861 -- and the delivery of opening and closing prayers.

The atheists are not suing Obama, however, because he, "like all other individuals, has Free Exercise rights," the suit says, referring to the Constitution's protection of religious expression. The problem would come if Roberts "prompts" Obama to recite the phrase, according to the atheists.

"The use of sectarian prayer and religious phrases during the inauguration not only violates a clear reading of the First Amendment, it serves as a justification for the breach of church-state separation in other areas," said Bob Ritter, staff attorney for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the legal arm of the American Humanist Association.

Warren's inclusion in the ceremony has also been criticized by liberals, particularly gay rights groups, who object to his vocal denunciations of same-sex marriage.

In a video sent to members of his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., Warren fired back at his critics, accusing them of "Christophobia" and "hate speech," according to Associated Baptist Press.

"Some people feel today that if you disagree with them, then that's hate speech," Warren said. "If you disagree with them, you either hate them or you're afraid of them. I'm neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact I love them, but I do disagree with some of their
beliefs."

Comments

First off we need to use the true name Homosexual
instead of Gay. Gay refers to feelings of being "carefree," "happy," or "bright" and showy. I myself am happy, bright, carefree and showy and by no means homosexual. I want to say let's have a gay old time and not be laughed at by society.
I hope the whole world will become gay for the Lord and savior Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. First Love God with all your Heart Mind and Soul then Love your Neighbor as your yourself? Jesus is the CHURCH! God Bless all as all are equal as we all are Sinners

Stupid athiests are always blocking something. Atheists believe in something, they believe there is no God. Aren't they going to be surprised someday when they meet God face-to-face and say, "Hey! You don't exist! and God says,"Neither Do you, at least not in heaven.

These atheists can no more prove there isn't a god any more than they can prove they have a brain ,they dont believe they can see god there for just because they can't see him . they cant see there brain either but they have one , at least i think they do. maybe not any one who does not believe in the one true god of abraham issac and jacob dont have any brains to begine with what a wooshhhhh.

Some atheists really need to get a life.

Acknowledging the existence of God is not "perpetuating religious dogma," since the Founding Fathers also acknowledged the existence of God. I wonder how Mr. Newdow and his intelligence-challenged ilk feel about supporting the continued existence of a nation founded by men who believed in God? One would think they would find it quite the anathema and seek citizenship elsewhere, such as the People's Republic of China, or North Korea.

Mae, can you prove there is no flying spagetti monster?....thought not. It is impossible to prove that something does not exist. I think it is the god believers who, whilst they have a brain, are evidently not using it.

what about democracy - is it not the power and reality of the majority on the matter. Many polls show the most in the US believe in 'God' - whatever they think or say their God is. How can a minority group try by legal action,to expunge words or references spoken and succeed. There is no legal definition of this 'God'? The founding father's God was the God of Deists and/or Masons [whoever that was].
The real God is one shown to us only by Christ whose name we must use ourselves. If it is not used in public functions whst's the problem ?

Atheists have as much right as non atheists to express an opinion about separation of church and state.
I, personally, am thrilled with the election of Obama; however, I am disgusted with the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation.
Warren does not represent the majority of Americans.
I would like to see the government devoid of religion.
The practice of religion is a first amendment right. It should be private matter.
When I first remember saying the pledge, there was no Under God phrase. That was added during the anti-communist era.
We have a right to believe or not, let us just not attempt to convert others to our own beliefs.

It doesn't really seem to make any difference whether there is a prayer at this event or not. Rick Warren is a Council on Foreign Relations member who long ago sold Jesus Christ out. What is disheartening to me is that professing Christians are putting any time, energy or attention into what this apostate says. He is just a government lackey folks, sorry to burst your bubble.

I have a complete belief that God exists. Atheists have a complete belief that God does not exist. I argue, and preech my belief all the time. They argue and preech their beliefs all the time. I have a name that tells the world what grouping I belong to in believing what I believe, it's called Christianity. They have a name that tells the world what grouping they belong to, it's called Aetheism. So here is the crux of the matter, I have my religion and they have theirs. How does the First Amendment apply now?

"Some people feel today that if you disagree with them, then that's hate speech," Warren said. "If you disagree with them, you either hate them or you're afraid of them. I'm neither afraid of gays nor do I hate gays. In fact I love them, but I do disagree with some of their
beliefs."

Warren has a point here. This has also been articulated a number of times by D.A.Carson on some of the lectures by him that are available online. This way of thinking is the new tolerance which leaves to no room for disagreement as opposed to the view of Voltaire which allowed for disagreement but at the same time the fight for one's right to articulate an opposing point of view.

A message to Rev. Warren - if you hate the hater, what does that make you?

Was Jesus a hippie free love sort of dude? No.
Does his gospel allow for people to do whatever they want? No.
But does it allow for the arrogance and Pharisaic self-righteousness that consistently protrudes out of Warren's mouth? No.

As for the sewage of anti-atheism on these comments, I must wonder who so-called "evangelicals" can evangelize to anymore. They seem to do their best to disparage and assault any non-believer they can. Perhaps this is why "evangelicals" must go off to third world countries now to spread their theologically lacking pseudo-gospel.

I am atheist but I believe that everyone has their own beliefs. I don’t care what they want to believe in, its freedom of religion. But I do think they should take "under god" out of the pledge because it’s trying to make other people believe what they believe in and that could offend some people. I am not a homosexual and I’m not bisexual, but I believe that it people should be able to marry who they want to marry. Because, they are keeping two people from loving each other. Making fun of homosexuals is like making fun of African Americans. It hurts the Homosexuals just like it does to the African Americans. It really ticks me off when people make fun of Homosexuals, Bisexuals, and African Americans. I may be a 15 year old boy in a high school but I do have a really good point

Rock on, Ryan! People are people. Let's stop making separations, everyone! Instead of gay people and straight people, let's have people. Instead of white people and black people, let's have people. Instead of atheists and theists, let's have people.

As far as government goes, I say that we honor the founding fathers. Most of them were religious, yes. But above all else, they were secularists. They wanted government to be COMPLETELY separate from religion. They wanted a government void of religion. This doesn't mean an atheistic government. If anything, it would be an agnostic government, which I think is perfect.