Atheist group files suit against prayer at presidential inauguration

December 31st, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Washington, Dec.31 (ANI): An atheist group has filed a lawsuit to prevent the recitation of a prayer at President-elect Barack Obama’’s inauguration.
Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, told Fox News that he has joined hands with Michael Newdow, in a federal lawsuit seeking to enjoin the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration.
The 34-page legal complaint similarly seeks to enjoin Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., from adding the phrase “So help me God” to the presidential oath of office.
“We”re hoping to stop prayer and religious rituals at governmental functions, especially at the inauguration,” Barker told FOX News Radio.
“The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers,” he continued.
Barker, who said government’’s not picking sides on the issue of religion is “hard wired into our Constitution,” called the 29 members of the suit all atheists and agnostics who love their country and participating in the inauguration.
“Yet we are subjected to someone else’’s religious views with the endorsement of the government, which makes us feel like second class outsiders,” he said.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the same group that fought to have atheist displays next to holiday displays, most notably in Washington State this year.
Barker argued that by allowing religious phrases to be used in the ceremony as well as inviting Reverends. Rick Warren and Joe Lowery, who are named as defendants in the suit, to participate in the inaugural festivities, the government is picking a winner in the dispute over religion and atheism.
Asked if prayer is excluded, wouldn”t that mean government is choosing atheists as the winner, Barker replied, “There is a difference between neutrality and hostility. If the government were to invite me as a national atheist leader to get up and give an invocation that curses the name of God and that encourages people to stop believing and stop being so childish and divisive then that would be wrong because the government would be taking a pro-atheist position.” (ANI)

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