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article imageAtheists go to court to take away prayers at Obama inauguration

By Chris V. Thangham     Dec 30, 2008 in Politics
An atheist group has filed a lawsuit to stop pastors from delivering religious prayers during Obama’s inauguration ceremony on January 20. They also want the Chief Justice to leave out the phrase “so help me God”.
First, the gays and lesbians had problems with Obama’s selection of the controversial pastor Rick Warren for the inauguration ceremony; now Obama is having another problem with the atheist group, Madison’s Freedom from Religious Foundation.
The foundation, its two co-presidents and several members from the group filed a suit Monday in Federal Court in Washington.
The group wants to stop pastors Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery from delivering the invocation and benediction at the inauguration. They also want to stop Chief Justice John Roberts from using the phrase “so help me God” when he gives Obama his oath of office.
This is attorney’s Michael Newdow’s lawsuit on behalf of the foundation but the previous two lawsuits failed.
The foundation’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor is hopeful that this case will convince the judge to ban prayers in future ceremonies, deeming them unconstitutional. She hopes to keep the official inauguration secular.
Newdow told the Wheeler News Service that 39 of the last 57 public inaugural ceremonies didn’t have prayers recited. He said also the phrase “so help me God” was used sporadically until 1933 and nobody officially authorized its use in the oath.
Should the prayers be banned at the inauguration ceremony? If so, what is the best alternative?
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