Radio reminder

The latest news from those militant atheists is that Michael Newdow, and many others, are suing to block the religious element of the presidential swearing-in ceremony. And guess who will be interviewed on Atheists Talk radio at 9am Central time? Michael Newdow! Call in and egg him on, or moan about the futility of it all.


  1. says

    I think it is already obvious, but I shall write this anyways: it is futile because the country is religious. The question is, shall it ever be otherwise?

  2. Anon says

    @#2–The people are religious; the country is secular.

    I’d say “not in my lifetime”, but I have been proven wrong about that once before by Obama.

  3. Eric says

    When is the next time PZ will be in town for the Atheist radio show / breakfast at Cucumbers?

  4. says

    @#3 Anon
    Well, that was what I was referring to when I said “country.” Sometimes, “country” refers to the people rather than the government. Of course, in any democratic state, the people matter a whole lot more. It matters not at all whether the government is secular or not, after all.

    In my opinion, the religiosity of the people is very much connected to the culture of the nation (whatever that is) – or a reaction to it (in the case that people are disconnected from the culture). That is just my guess.

  5. Autumn says

    Actually, Newdow can only point to the Constitution if a President-elect were forced into having religious invocations and trappings. The inauguration is not scripted by the Constitution at all, except for the wording of the Oath of Office. The President-elect could hold a tent-revival or a Satanic Mass for all the Constitution cares- as long as nobody is forced to pray along there is no conflict.
    N.B., the Constitution does specify the oath (or affirmation) of office, and it ends with “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, section 1).
    Anyone care to place bets on what will be added by Obama to the oath?

  6. DaveB says

    When this fails, look for the Christian right to crow that the ruling affirms the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” This lawsuit fails tactically, legally, and from a public relations standpoint.

  7. BobC says

    This lawsuit fails tactically, legally, and from a public relations standpoint.

    Translation: Atheists should shut up.

  8. BobC says

    Even though this suit has been brought on regularly at every inauguration in recent times, the possibility of this one succeeding could make for some very unpleasant backlash.

    Translation: Atheists should shut up.

  9. DaveB says

    Translation: Atheists should shut up.

    Just the ones filing this lawsuit, and just in this particular instance. If you have a compelling argument that Newdow’s lawsuit has any merit whatsoever, I’d be happy to hear it. If the invocation and oath were actually unconstitutional, the public relations would be irrelevant.

  10. BobC says

    The Establishment Clause was written to keep religions out of our secular government. That means politicians shouldn’t be invoking their favorite magic fairy at a presidential inauguration. Will Newdow win? No of course not. Are his efforts for nothing? I don’t think so. Fighting Christian theocrats can never be a waste of time. If they know they’re going to be fought over every little thing, they will be less likely to try to get away with something worse, like forcing all students to worship Jeebus in a public school, or forcing biology teachers to teach the Christian magical creation myth.

  11. BobC says

    If you just said “This lawsuit will fail” I wouldn’t have a problem with that because you would probably be correct. But when you say “This lawsuit fails from a public relations standpoint, what you are really saying is “atheists should sit in the back of the bus and shut up.”

    I don’t agree with that. Religious insanity is completely out of control in America and I don’t think atheists should suck up to it.

  12. Janine, Vile Bitch says

    Posted by: DaveB | January 4, 2009

    When this fails, look for the Christian right to crow that the ruling affirms the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” This lawsuit fails tactically, legally, and from a public relations standpoint.

    Guess what. If this lawsuit actually works, the fundies would be crying that they are persecuted. And if this lawsuit never happened, the fundies would thing that they have an in to this administration. That is because Obama and McCain held one of their debates at their church. And that their guy will be leading a prayer.

    With these people, you are screwed no matter what you do. So you might as well take some action.

  13. clinteas says

    I think the lawsuit is a good idea,Im not very familiar with the legal stuff,but i think it is good to question the legality of Warren’s appearance and speech.

    I agree with commenter No 2 in a way tho,for all intents and purposes the US is already a theocracy/idiocracy,you cant hold any public office without some pandering to the religious,being gay or atheist might as well forget it,75% or so of people believe in miracles and angels,half of them doesnt think evolution is true,and you pray at car races….

  14. Coel says

    DaveB writes:

    If you have a compelling argument that Newdow’s lawsuit has any merit whatsoever, I’d be happy to hear it.

    The usual practice is for the Chief Justice to put to the President-elect the words of the oath of office, and the P-e then repeats them. On what constitutional basis is the CJ putting to the P-e the words “so help me God”? Surely the CJ requesting these words is a direct violation Article 6, which says that no religious tests will ever be required for any office. [Though if the P-e were to ad lib the words as a personal commentary on his oath then fine, I can’t see anything unconstitutional about that.]

    Of course the tricky bit will be gaining standing to sue, for which one needs to show harm.

  15. amph says

    When I follow that link, I get a warning that “this site has been reported unsafe” etc. (IE8 beta) Does everyone gets this? Part of a strategy (whose?) to protect the public against Those Evil Atheists? (With FF nothing, neither the second time with IE.)

  16. eddie says

    Meanwhile over at Built On Facts (heirophant thread) – “Scientists should pay more attention to the awe that the universe can inspire.”
    When I called him on it, I got nisbeted.

  17. MBL says

    I’ve met Michael Newdow on a couple of occasions. He’s an obnoxious ass and I wish he weren’t on my side. This suit has no merit whatsoever. I don’t think atheists should shut up, but I’d be perfectly happy if HE would.

  18. VronVron says

    eddie @#21

    I saw your comment @ Built On Facts and Matt’s response, so I have a pretty good idea what “nisbeted” means, but would you give me an exact definition, please.

  19. Jason Failes says

    Although I agree that to the extent that any religious proclamations are President Obama’s choice, and not an imposed religious test, they are not unconstitutional, they are still irrelevant to the purpose of governance.

    And we should point that out with all due mockery.

    Have a Photoshop contest; show him swearing in on an issue of Sports Illustrated, Playboy magazine, The Guiness Book of World Records, or anything else our devious little minds can think of.

    Crafty sound editors could have him saying “so help me Thor/Zeus/Mithras/Batman/Pink Floyd”, whatever can be derived from the many speeches he has made (the full word is not necessary, just clear syllables).

    I mean, that’s the real point, isn’t it, not that this is illegal, but that it is irrelevant?

    No matter how much you like a particular religion, or book, or magazine, or sports team, or rock musician, or kick-ass dark avenger of the night, it has absolutely no relevance to secular governance in a modern democracy in any way.

  20. says

    MBL, I’m pretty surprised by that. He was quite charming on the show. Very reasonable and collected, particularly considering how little sleep he was working with.

  21. eddie says

    First, my response was proportional to the hurt and insult recieved and also to the point at hand. It has been well argued on this blog and elsewhere (in particular, see Sastra’s recent insightful commentary on the term “nice”) that insistance on moderate speech is a) no substitute for a real argument and b) a means to give real offense while avoiding any comeback.
    This approach has been archetyped by nisbet’s campaign against so-called “new atheists”.
    Have you really not been paying attentiom?

  22. says


    The suit has clear legal merit, and you are claiming otherwise simply due to your hate for the person bringing the suit.

    MBL, meet logical fallacy.

    Proof even us atheists are not immune to such logical emotional issues.

  23. Harold Pierce Jr says

    Attn: BobC!

    RE: #14

    “The Establishment Clause was written to keep religions out of our secular government.”

    Not exactly. The clause really means that the Congress shall pass no law granting or confering powers of goverment to “an establishment of religion.” It is not about the “the strict separation of church and state”, as many believe, because the “free exercise thereof” is guaranted by the amendment.

    The Preamble to the Constitution starts with “We the People…” and ends “… do _ordain_ and an establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    The Preamble is the most radical and herectical declaration in all of human history. To the establishments of religion in the Old World (mostly Europe at that time) it was blasphemy because it put the will of the people above the will of God. This is also what makes America unique in all of human history. The Holy Alliance, for example, was formed in 1804 to prevent the introduction of the principles and ideals of the American Revolution, i.e., The Shot heard around the world.

    Implicit in the Preamble is the exclusion of the church from goverance, and this was made explicit in the First Amendment. Exclusion of an establishment of religion (i.e., the Church) from goverance excludes the monarchy and the previleged aristocrcy, because no monarch could rule without being ordained (i.e., approved) by the church
    and therefore there would be no monarchy to grant privilege (i.e., title) to the aristocracy.

    In his Address at Gettysburg President Lincoln reaffirmed the vision of the Founding Fathers with his final declaration “…and government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish for the earth.”

    This is why all of the Old World societies hate America. The American Revolution upset all the Old World societies’ religious, social and political applecarts, and they have never forgiven the Americans for this, and probably never will.