Suit Filed To Stop Prayer At Inauguration

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit to stop prayers from being offered at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Among those being served with the suit are Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery.

The Madison-based foundation, its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor and several of its members are among the 29 co-plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit, Newdow vs. Roberts, filed Monday by attorney Michael Newdow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks to stop the Presidential Inaugural Committee from sponsoring prayers at the official inauguration.

The 34-page legal complaint said for most of the country’s history, clergy has not led prayers at inaugurations. Similarly, the lawsuit seeks to stop U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts from using the religious phrase, “so help me God,” in the presidential oath of office. Roberts is among the defendants, along with inaugural committee officials — such as chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein — and Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, who have been invited to deliver the invocation and benediction.

“Interlarding those ceremonies with clergy who espouse sectarian religious dogma does not unite, but rather divides, our citizenry,” Newdow’s complaint reads. “Similarly, instead of instilling confidence in our governmental structure, it tears at the very foundation upon which that structure is built.”

The FFRF acknowledges that their suit has little chance of winning, but points out that only 18 of 57 presidential inaugurations have featured public prayer – all of those in the last 72 years.

I applaud this action by the FFRF, doomed as it is. It should be crystal clear to even the most devout Americans that there should be absolutely no endorsement or mention of any religion in a secular Democracy. Religious influence on government has never been used except to oppress, divide, demean, and ostracize.