In yet another attempt to piss off people, our “freethinking” friends are trying to impose their will on the inauguration:
Activists sue to keep God out of inauguration¹
By Sam Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office a week from today, should God play a part in the proceedings?
Since at least 1881, presidents have added the words “So help me God” at the end of their inaugural oaths.
The phrase, however, is not included in the Constitutional oath. And that has rankled leaders in the atheist and humanist communities.
So, let them be rankled! Let them be offended, let them wail and gnash their scummy teeth.
So they’ve sued. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
“Our Founding Fathers knew that to put an oath to God would be hypocritical to the entire secular Constitution,” said Margaret Downey, founder of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia.
She is one of two dozen atheist activists from across the nation who have asked a federal judge to ban God from the Jan. 20 inaugural ceremony.
They also want to stop Pastor Rick Warren of the evangelical Saddleback Church from delivering an invocation at the ceremony.
Their chances of success may be slim to none, but they are hoping to lay the legal groundwork for 2013.
“When an invocation or the ‘So help me God’ is uttered, it empowers the religious community to demean atheists,” Downey said. “It . . . reinforces the notion that America is only comprised of God believers.”
No, Miss Downey: what empowers the religious community to demean atheists is the behavior of people like you. The incoming president is a Christian, was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ for two decades, and if we don’t know just how seriously he takes his faith, it is nevertheless his own — and the Constitution directly states that there shall be no religious test imposed to hold public office.
Since the words “so help me God” do not appear in the Constitution, they are optional, and if an incoming president decided that he didn’t want to include the words, he could certainly omit them; one assumes that he would inform the Chief Justice, “Hey, leave out that part,” and the Chief Justice would comply.
Our Constitution forbids the government from requiring Miss Downey to attend church. Our Constitution forbids the government from establishing an official state church or compelling people to pray. But it does not forbid people from making expressions of faith, even when being sworn in as president.
Barack Obama has said that he will use the Bible on which Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861. Perhaps Miss Downey would like to forbid that as well.
Update: Patterico, as always, is on the case, and he kindly linked the .pdf file of the complaint filed. The .pdf includes the email addresses of attorneys Michael Newdow and Robert Ritter, who are included amongst the Plaintiffs as well as being the attorneys.
I wasted a bit of ink and printed out the complaint. As nearly as I can tell, the Plaintiffs are claiming that hearing the words “so help me God” and the invocation and benediction by two clergymen would hurt their feelings, and remind them of things that they see as just terrible, terrible things. Most of them state that they plan to watch the inauguration on television, though some state that they wish to attend in person.
Now, perhaps their televisions are less capable than mine, but mine comes with both a mute button and an off switch; if there’s something to which I do not wish to listen, why, shockingly enough, I don’t listen to it! Practically speaking, the Plaintiffs have all been forewarned that there may be Religious Content, and they even know when it will occur; it’s not like they’ll have to fumble for the remote without notice.
I wonder if nk would accept my proposed lawsuit against Mr Newdow et al, for causing me untold grief and stress in worrying that my right to hear the next President conclude his Oath of Office with “so help me God” might be infringed upon by their lawsuit.
¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, 13 January 2009, p. A-4