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Prayer has no place at Obama’s inauguration, says US atheists

DAN Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has joined with Michael Newdow – who fought to have the words “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance – in a federal lawsuit to prevent prayers being uttered at Barack Obama’s official inauguration on January 20.

Dan Barker

Dan Barker

Obama ran headlong into controversy when he recently announced his choice of  evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation.

Gay rights activists immediately protested Obama’s decision to give Warren a prominent role at the swearing-in, because the California megachurch founder supported Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in his home state.

Obama defended his choice, saying he wanted the event to reflect diverse views and insisting he remains a “fierce advocate” of equal rights for gays.

According to this report, the 34-page legal complaint filed by the FFRF also seeks to prevent Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr, from adding the phrase “So help me God” to the presidential oath of office.

Barker told FOX News Radio:

We’re hoping to stop prayer and religious rituals at governmental functions, especially at the inauguration.

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 said if Obama wants to hold a private religious ceremony, that would be more appropriate than having religious figures up on stage at his swearing in ceremony.

Rick Warren and Barack Obama

Rick Warren and Barack Obama

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, said it’s Obama’s decision whether to include a prayer, not the government’s.

The atheists, while they have every right to practice their atheism, they do not have an absolute right not to be exposed to viewpoints they don’t agree with. So I think this lawsuit has no merit whatsoever.

Meanwhile, a separate argument has erupted over whether Warren should use the “J”  word at the presidential inauguration.

At George W Bush’s 2001 swearing-in, the Revs Franklin Graham and Kirbyjon Caldwell both invoked Jesus – and this distinctly Christian reference at a national civic event gave considerable offence to many non-Christians.

But evangelicals generally expect their clergymen to use Jesus’ name whenever and wherever they lead prayer. Many conservative Christians say cultural sensitivity goes way too far if it requires religious leaders to hide their beliefs.

Said Caldwell:

If Rick Warren does not pray in Jesus’ name, some folks are going to be very disappointed. Since he’s evangelical, his own tribe, if you will, will have some angst if he does not do that.

14 Responses to “Prayer has no place at Obama’s inauguration, says US atheists”

  1. Michael says:

    Well Lets hope obama keeps his fingers crossedwhen he refers to god

  2. David says:

    This is a bit ridiculous. The Constitution of the United States really is based on a belief in God.

    It would be more real if they simply argued that the Constitution should be ignored and replaced with a more secular document.

  3. Bobbie Graves says:

    Nobody is asking you to hide anything or think a different way.

    Just go to church, go to your closet,Just don’t bring it to the street corner or a public civil office.

  4. mikespeir says:

    There’s a very big difference between the admitted fact that most of the Founding Fathers believed in some sort of deity and the mistaken notion that the Constitution was “based on a belief in God.”

  5. Alan C. says:

    Silly Americans.

  6. Ex Patriot says:

    It wouldn’t be so bad if he had someone other than that pompus ass Warren to do the prayer. He strikes me as someone who has never missed a meal at the expense of the idiots that send him a check every month.
    I am a life long Athiest and I am now 72 years of age and I realize that it will never be possible to keep religion out of politics as the idiots that run have to pander to the ones who belive in some sky fairy. I just hope it could be kept to a minimum. FYI if I was ever to believe in a god it would be Bacchus as I like good wine, and he makes more sense

  7. Rozi says:

    Is it just me, or does that photo of Obama and Warren look like he’s sucker punching him? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

  8. DannyJ says:

    This sounds like anti-theism to me, not aitheism…

    Surely it’s purely ceremonial anyway? Let Obama or whoever have their prayer, do what the like! It’s only words, just don’t try to force me to agree with them!

    I assume that he’s (Obama) intelligent enough to have worked out that God is a flawed concept, and if he says he does believe (as does Bush) it’s simply to justify radical political movements with a brainwashed populous.

  9. Buffy says:

    The atheists, while they have every right to practice their atheism, they do not have an absolute right not to be exposed to viewpoints they don’t agree with. So I think this lawsuit has no merit whatsoever.

    Riiight. But listen to the collective screech that comes from them if there’s a hint that their kids might be exposed to anything but the narrow indoctrination they’ve received at home. The “Yes on 8″ campaign had “Won’t somebody please think of the children! We can’t have the children taught about gay marriage!” As their centerpiece.

    Self-centered lying scum.

  10. Marie Neeleman (N) says:

    As an elderly Canadian I enjoyed watching the inaugurations. Almost as though it was a second coming eh? Still, I have more faith in what President Obama said then the blabbering charade of that Baptise Rev. Rick Warren. What was he doing up there in the first place? Americans, it seems still have a long way to go before they can think and do for themselves and trust that their actions are their own responsibilities not God’s. I know, there’s a lots of ifs and buts, but common sense tells me that politics is politics and that God stuff belongs elsewhere. That Rick Warren was an embarrassment to so many and it took away from that fantastic inauguration. To me, Obama’s referral to God would have been plenty.

  11. John says:

    I’m surprised by the lack of “freethinking” in the responses I have read in the above comments:

    “Self-centered lying scum.”

    “as the idiots that run have to pander to the ones who belive in some sky fairy.”

    “the blabbering charade of that Baptise Rev. Rick Warren.”

    I recognize that these comments likely do not represent the majority, though I as an evangelical American try my best to think and respond to people more respectfully than this. I don’t always succeed, but I sure try.

    I respect and appreciate people’s ability to say whatever they want. Yet, I’m sad to read such hurtfulness.

  12. solomon says:

    You all Atheists,
    Why you have to leave God aside.One should put god to the very front.Nothing or no ceremony will take event without god’s blessings or
    permission.Any occassions that leaves god aside will be cursed and will not be futile.

  13. solomon says:

    BRAVO…! Buffy BRAVO….! clap…clap….clap

  14. solomon says:

    Dear Ex Patriot,
    God gave you a long lifespan & youre still countin’ but that did’nt make you more wiser!