Atheists Sue to Take 'God' Out of Obama Inauguration

After failed attempts to remove prayer from George W. Bush's inauguration ceremonies, Michael A. Newdow, along with other atheists, has once again filed a lawsuit to take God and religion out of the upcoming swearing-in ceremony.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Newdow and 17 other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists who want the words "so help me God" and other religious references out of the president's oath of office, invocation and benediction.

"There can be no purpose for placing 'so help me God' in an oath or sponsoring prayers to God, other than promoting the particular point of view that God exists," the lawsuit states, according to CNN.

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And according to Newdow, religious references convey the message that "we who believe in God are the righteous, the real Americans," he told CNN.

American Humanist Association, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and atheist groups from Minnesota, Seattle, Washington and Florida are among the groups that band together for the lawsuit. They are suing Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who will administer the oath of office to President-elect Barack Obama in January; several officials in charge of inaugural festivities; megachurch pastor Rick Warren, who will deliver the invocation; and the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, who will deliver the benediction.

Obama was not named in the suit.

"If he (Obama) chooses to ask for God's help, I'm not going to challenge him," Newdow said, according to CNN. "I think it's unwise."

Newdow made similar attempts to take out God from inauguration ceremonies in 2001 and 2005 and was unsuccessful. This time, he believes he'll lose again but hopes to eventually succeed.

Calling the lawsuit a "publicity stunt," Scott Walter, executive director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement, "Newdow's lawsuit over the inauguration is a lot like the streaker at the Super Bowl: a pale, self-absorbed distraction. And anybody who looks at it carefully can see there's not much there."

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