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 ...1