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Below is a line from the District Court Schedule of what could be a historical case on prayer at the inauguration-- live, open to the public, if you get there early this afternoon.  Here's the address and some entrance details (don't bring a cell phone with a camera)

NEWDOW et al v. ROBERTS et al
Judge Walton
01/15/2009  02:00PM
Courtroom 16
Motion Hearing

It's fair to say there is a media boycott against reporting of this hearing, as my diary here seems to be one of the top items when this subject is Googled.  

 

But this is anything but a trivial case.  And far from being a nuisance suit that will be quickly dismissed, it was serious enough that an amicus brief was filed signed by every Attorney General of the fifty states of the union.

Now, before anyone goes to the court, make sure that the hearing was not cancelled, which is what the Justice Department lawyers are trying to do, since Newdow's password to file an amendment to a document did not work.  He personally ran it down to the court and was five minutes late, and they wanted to make this a cause for dismissal.  

I wrote to him about it last night, but he is a bit busy right now and didn't get back to me. If I knew that the case was on, as I suspect it is, I would be tempted to try to get a cheap JetBlue flight out of LA just to be there. I listened to his oral argument before the Supreme Court on his suit to eliminate "under God" and it was fascinating.  

There was the mutual respect of a group of insiders, or specialists in an arcane subject, debating the fine points of their field. There was even a joke, a supreme court joke that had everyone laughing out loud. But you have to be a constitutional scholar and litigator to fully appreciate that "dicta" is not the same as "having decided."  They all thought it was a side splitter.

Newdow probably knows Church-State jurisprudence as much as anyone-- probably more than anyone, since he is not a lawyer who specializes in this issue,rather he became a lawyer to better advance the goals of a secular government.  So, given his dedication, sacrificing his medical career to advance his goal to bring atheists out of the shadows, as blacks, women and gays have so been, it is something that drives him.

The argument that the country is not ready, or that this is not the time, is something he cannot hear.  He is the closest we have to a Malcom X,  Thurgood Marshal or Martin Luther King of the atheist movement---at least at this time. None of these men, anymore than he, were what those of their eras would consider "reasonable."  They were all trouble makers who just couldn't accept society as it was.  With this accolade of courage goes another one--"the most hated man in the country" in the eyes of fundamentalist of every monotheistic religion.

While many atheists can agree with his goals, yet see the insurmountable political hurdles-- and are willing to wait for clearer skies, Newdow, having given up his medical career and devoted everything to this, just can't do that.  

So, he's about to give this his best shot.  

There are really two parts to his case.  The second one is the grander of the two, to eliminate all prayer from the quadrennial inauguration ceremonies.  While I agree with this goal, the vast majority of Americans do not, along with about every politician who needs the votes of this majority to maintain their own careers.

The first count of his suit is much cleaner-- less profound, but quite symbolic. (described in this first diary) It is simply to follow the constitutionally prescribed Presidential oath of office.  This could be achieved with minimal disruption, simply by having the Chief Justice recite the actual thirty five word oath as written by the founders, while President Obama repeats them, and at the conclusion he is free to say if he chooses, "So help me God"  words previous Chief Justice's have spoken in error.

Ironically, if you go to my earlier diary I make note of a letter from the Chief Justice that would indicate his awareness that without the correction that Newdow is suing for, he would be, at the very least, on questionable constitutional grounds.

I hope we get someone to pop over there and take notes, or even make a recording if allowable, and then give a report of what went on. It's hard to believe that the media is not covering this story, but other than a few blogs....heck...no one is writing about this except me....and those fifty chief legal officers of all of our fifty states---are taking this pretty seriously.

I rarely make this request, but whether you agree with Newdow or not, this being placed on the rec list would at least have a chance of this being considered news by those mass media folks who glance at this site once in a while.
-------------------
Update: 6:20 PM Pacific Time

After there being no media coverage of tomorrow's case, the AP wrote this story a few minutes ago that was put on the Yahoo News front page...now it will be seen by millions.  If this diary making the rec list prodded them, we did our job.

But they got the story wrong on a major point when they wrote:

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama wants to conclude his inaugural oath with the words "so help me God," but a group of atheists is asking a federal judge to stop him.

Newdow's complaint specifically says that the president is not a defendant, and it is only the Chief Justice who is being enjoined to speak the words written in the constitution. From the legal complaint:

If President-elect Obama (as a black man fully aware of the vile effects that stem from a majority’s disregard of a minority’s rights, and as a Democrat fully aware of the  efficacy his Republican predecessor’s "so help me God" oath additions) feels that the verbiage formulated by the Founders is so inadequate that he needs to interlard his oath with a purely religious phrase deemed unnecessary by the first twenty presidents, Plaintiffs have no objection at this time. The President, like all other individuals, has Free Exercise rights, which might permit such an alteration.    

Shame on Associated Press for not reading the briefs, or even this diary with more care.

Originally posted to ARODB on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:03 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's only the consitution.. (234+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chase, Angie in WA State, exsimo2, RonV, Pandora, tin woodswoman, Tuffy, theboz, rincewind, eeff, dkistner, Pompatus, RKS, Rieux, Matilda, Heart of the Rockies, opinionated, Feanor, bronte17, BlackSheep1, SamSinister, mijita, fishwars, samddobermann, taonow, ovals49, MJB, thingamabob, Jesterfox, Cedwyn, wader, bjornmmcc, Dallasdoc, tap1966, Catte Nappe, snakelass, Greg in TN, alizard, fritzrth, walkshills, frostieb, Oaktown Girl, ybruti, side pocket, OrangeClouds115, valadon, realalaskan, vivens fons, nailbender, davidincleveland, ExStr8, radarlady, greycat, blueyedace2, Tonedevil, Bodean, PBen, elkhunter, panicbean, Simplify, ChemBob, chidmf, Jfriday, reflectionsv37, HugoDog, skyounkin, deep, JavaManny, Pluto, dsteffen, playtonjr, Spathiphyllum, Arsenic, Snud, simplicio, Asinus Asinum Fricat, Nowhere Man, martini, LeftOverAmerica, Orinoco, The Sinistral, RustyBrown, whitewidow, liberalconservative, Patriot4peace, KenBee, deha, sailmaker, Alexandra Lynch, goodasgold, nonnie9999, gooderservice, SadieSue, MarciaJ720, totallynext, rage, profh, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, buckeye blue, Nulwee, ZenTrainer, NonnyO, DrMicro, DBunn, Thinking Fella, robbk, phonegery, marykk, leema, ColoTim, moosely2006, 0wn, FishOutofWater, HeartlandLiberal, Jimdotz, DWG, Uncle Cosmo, newpioneer, dconrad, sabishi, st minutia, Uberbah, twistedflatcat, thursdays child, Newzie, dgil, Rumarhazzit, Prof Haley, cacamp, Empower Ink, MKinTN, fayeforcure, Dem in the heart of Texas, rogerdaddy, sk4p, Scioto, middle child, wayoutinthestix, indyada, Judge Moonbox, Greasy Grant, fnord warrior, royce, Haplogroup V, NMLib, MrJayTee, Jeff Y, mofembot, BYw, stillwaters, dmhlt 66, Aidos, greenpunx, gsenski, shortgirl, oldliberal, prettygirlxoxoxo, 1BQ, Bule Betawi, smellybeast, Sportin Life, Mr Tentacle, DontTaseMeBro, jarbyus, Carol in San Antonio, h bridges, RiderOnTheStorm, SciVo, cn4st4datrees, rini6, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, dRefractor, richrichthanki, Framlingham, jarnikles, ZilV, obscuresportsquarterly, kevinpdx, dalfireplug, JSC ltd, joehoevah, beeninthewoods, ratmach, Super Grover, Just Bob, Lazar, BigVegan, oohdoiloveyou, pyegar, TFinSF, LaughingPlanet, robertacker13, fidellio, TheWesternSun, teachme2night, Crabby Abbey, Ronald Singleterry, atxcats, sunny skies, melpomene1, NY brit expat, pixxer, nycjoc, nickrud, Casual Wednesday, roystah, MsGrin, kissmygrits, TheCid, Quote Me, Mike08, slowbutsure, Olon, badaspie, arrows theorem, freesia, m00finsan, the national gadfly, AtomikNY, derkar54, kevin k, Nicci August, trs, FightingRegistrar, Ebby, DawnoftheRedSun, Utahbama, wideout179, Prinny Squad, David1971, antimony, Edgewater, The Rational Hatter

    something we want to start to be taken seriously again.

    •  Great diary! (37+ / 0-)

      You have an uphill battle to fight in the US to get the bashers of dusty old books to relinquish their claimed monopoly on wisdom and ethics. This is the first I've heard of him but I hope men like Dr Newdow help you get there.

      Best wishes from the city of Charles Robert Darwin (the bicentennial of his birth is this year!)

    •  Serious topic, worthy of discussion. Thank you. (16+ / 0-)

      But I had to read through 10 or 11 paragraphs to find what the suit is all about.

      I can't be the only one who was tempted to close the tab and stop reading before I got that far.

    •  Further Proof! (9+ / 0-)

      that this so-called "constitution" thing was cooked up by a bunch of godless commie fanatics!

      (thank God...)

    •  Help me out here. (25+ / 0-)

      I'm a UCC seminarian who strongly believes in the separation of church and state, on behalf of We, the People but also on behalf of ensuring the free practice of my personal faith.

      However, I've got to ask whether efforts such as this are actually that productive.  We all know that "separation of church and state" has a PR problem, so there aren't many such efforts that will be met without widespread opposition.  Yet, there seems to be a difference between efforts to make changes where people are actually impacted, such as changing the pledge of allegiance, and efforts where the victory is largely symbolic but doesn't make much of an impact beyond that.  

      If the injunction somehow occurs, it will probably piss a lot of people off - but for what gain?  Not much that I can see, at least not practically.  Or am I missing something here?  

      I know, I know...I'm getting bogged down worrying about tactics when the question of right/wrong in this case is crystal clear.  I'm also not one who gets offended by the idea of "So help me, God," so I am not one with much at stake on this question.  I'm just saying: with this and other issues on which we are in the solid minority, it behooves us to choose our battles carefully in ways that will benefit us the most.  Right?

      •  The tactical question is a fair one (16+ / 0-)

        and I usually just eavesdrop on the debate, because I hate conflict and I know I'm not a good choice to lead. I am offended by "so help me God", but some people actually don't believe an oath counts without it. I dunno.

        I think the oath of office is a good test, because it's simple and high-profile. There's practically no instance of federal support of religion [the Pledge of Allegiance, "In God We Trust"] that can be challenged without cries that plaintiffs are anti-religion, as if that itself is un-American. I hate to say it, but the First Amendment probably would not be ratified today.

        Not much help, I'm afraid. But if we hesitate because we'll just piss off the Right, we aren't going to get anywhere.

        We're on a blind date with Destiny, and it looks like she's ordered the lobster!

        by Prof Haley on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:42:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not crazy about the phrase either... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MrJersey, Prof Haley

          ... but it seems that a reasonable argument can be made that this was Obama's personal choice.  No one is being forced to say it.

          I still have mixed feelings about it, but I don't think this is the hill to die on.

          •  and... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            obietom, MrJersey, Prof Haley

            I'm not so sure that right/wrong is crystal clear here, either.  Is there no room for personal choice of the person taking the oath?  

            Again, mixed feelings....

            •  There is (5+ / 0-)

              Teddy Roosevelt, for example, said "And thus I affirm", or something to that effect after reciting the oath.

              It's called the "codicil" from what I've read.

              The issue here, from what I gather, is that when the Chief Justice says those words himself it sort of compels the new President to repeat them, whereas the Constitution does not include them.

              It almost forces the one taking the oath to repeat them, even if he or she doesn't want to say, "So help me God".

              Personally I'd be happier if we could get beyond sweating the small stuff and focus on rebuilding the wall between church and state that Bush has so wonderfully torn down with his Faith Based programs.  Those I find abhorrent.  The codicil?  Not so much.

              •  The Faith-Based Initiatives Program is not dead (12+ / 0-)

                The same week Obama voted yes for the FISA fiasco, he followed that up by announcing that he's going to adopt, expand, and fund Bush's Faith-based initiatives program.

                As far as I am concerned, that means Obama is going to be all-too-willing to violate his oath of office and violate the Fourth and First Amendments without any hesitation whatsoever.  I strenuously object.  If people choose to give their money to charities that their religious institutions support, I don't give a rip.  It's their money, they can tithe, give some, or give all their money to their own religious charities.  I don't care.  When it comes to giving our tax dollars to religious institutions that they can then turn around and use against us for political purposes, I draw a very deep line.  With all the debts we have to pay off that the religious right's darlings [Georgie and Dickie] ran up, we really can't afford to re-fund their religious organizations with our tax dollars anyway.

                I do take offense at the insertion of religion into government and politics, whether it's the oath of office or anything else.  I'm sick to death of the reichwingnuts inserting their religious opinion into everything at many levels of government, of reichwingnuts wanting to take away women's rights and equality, and of Sunday morning political bobbleheads asking reichwingnuts for their political opinions as if their religious views matter in the realm of politics.  Media is partly responsible for muddying the waters of religion and government.

                If any had studied history they'd know precisely what a deadly combination of religion and government is.  I'm tired of our spineless chickenshit Congress Critters bending over backwards for the Repukes and the religious nuts who seem to garner so much attention in media outlets.  The spoiled brats need to learn the meaning of the word 'No!'

                I remember the 1954 insertion of 'under God' into the Pledge of Allegiance; I was in third grade and had a hard time remembering to add the two words for a few weeks.  Now that I'm older and know better, I deliberately do not add those two words if I'm in public and have to recite the Pledge with everyone else.

                As a genealogist, I know why at least two lines of my ancestors got here: for religious freedom AND financial gain.  The First Amendment gives us freedom OF religion, yes, but with the way it's worded, it also gives us freedom FROM religion.  Mixing the two is deadly and disastrous and our Founding Fathers knew that because of what was - to them - recent history.

                The offices of the president and vice president and senators and representatives are civic in nature, NOT religious.  There is no reason whatsoever to add 'so help me god' to the oath of office if it's not in the Constitution under the sections where the oath of office is written.  [I noticed Cheney added that, too, when he did the swearing-in ceremony for the new senators.]

                That idiot Rick Warren interviewed both McCain and Obama and the nature of his questions indicated he was making a religious test for either one to hold office.  It is written in the Constitution that there shall be 'no religious test' to hold elected office.  I was deeply ashamed that either one of the candidates allowed such a travesty to occur, and I'm more than deeply offended that Obama is having Rick Warren in his inaugural ceremony.

                In any case, I'm adamantly against government funding of 'faith-based initiatives' because it is unconstitutional... and I'm tired of the Constitution being violated.  Besides which, I expected much more from a constitutional scholar than a continuation of Bush-Cheney constitutional violations.

                (¯`*._(¯`*._(-PROSECUTE-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

                by NonnyO on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 11:42:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  But where are we getting? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          obietom, Wee Mama, Prof Haley, tresgatos

          If the case goes in favor of Newdow, what has been served?

          If the Chief Justice is told he must not say "So Help Me God," and that Obama may say it if it pleases him, so what? What politician would opt out of saying "So help me God?" Won't it become another meaningless bone for the press to chew? Instead of the generic one-size-fits-all oath, the new President will be tested on what he or she chooses to tag on to the end of the damn thing:
          "President Disses God!" or "President goes on 10 minute end-of-oath God riff that includes Jesus and Saint Peter!" "President 'finishes' oath in Hebrew!"

          I just don't see the point.

          "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

          by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:58:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You've convinced me. (4+ / 0-)

            I think some people feel they have to say it. Okay. He isn't being forced. The Constitutional text is undiminished.

            We aren't getting Bibles out of courtrooms anytime soon, either. Actually, Newdow should start there, citing the scripture-free swearings-in in Congress.

            We're on a blind date with Destiny, and it looks like she's ordered the lobster!

            by Prof Haley on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:11:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What courtroom uses a bible? n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO
              •  I'd love to be wrong (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NonnyO

                but don't they swear all witnesses in with one? [I've never been in a real court.] I thought that and SHMG were the rule. Anyhow, the phrase isn't going away from the judicial branch.

                We're on a blind date with Destiny, and it looks like she's ordered the lobster!

                by Prof Haley on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 09:40:41 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not in the local courtrooms (5+ / 0-)

                  I can't speak for the entire US, but as a person who has been in the gallery watching witnesses sworn in at a local courtroom, I was relieved to see that the witnesses were only asked to raise their hand and "swear or affirm that they would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

                  No Bible, no "so help me God."

                  This pleased me no end, because while I've never been called to testify, I have wondered what I'd do with the 'so help me God' part that I've seen on TV.  If my word that I will tell the truth is not good enough, there's no mythical god who can punish me if I get up there and lie like the average Repukes testifying before Congress, so the added words are quite meaningless.

                  (¯`*._(¯`*._(-PROSECUTE-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

                  by NonnyO on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 11:52:21 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I know that no bible is used in courtrooms in (0+ / 0-)

                Montana, Oregon and Federal courts.  I suspect that it is not used in any courtroom, but I don't know for sure.

        •  This case is that the Supreme Ct Justice (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCrefugee, CParis, newpioneer

          should not say the words because they are NOT part of the prescribed oath and they would be giving a preference to religion.

          The case does NOT object to Obama saying them.

          We are in a time where it is risky NOT to change. Barack Obama 7-30-08

          by samddobermann on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 03:24:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I think Dr Bob proved statistically (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rieux

          via test of students and parents, that most of the constitution could not be ratified today.

          We are a sad bunch of monkeys still flinging poo at those who dare to come down out of the trees.

          http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/...

          The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

          by NCrefugee on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:24:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not offended by it either and frankly, (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        obietom, Sychotic1, sk4p, badger1968, tresgatos

        it's Obama's oath and I am sure he wants us all to know just how seriously he takes this duty. To swear to God means a great deal to him, it means a great deal to many Americans.

        •  He will President of all Americans, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rieux, CParis, Demena, Uberbah

          including those to whom this means a great deal in that it mixes private religious beliefs with the oath of office.

          •  But it HIS oath, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badger1968

            It doesn't matter if it doesn't mean anything to YOU, it's his way of letting us know how very seriously he takes this, how much it means to him. Do I think the Justice should say it as part of the oath, no, but I do believe Obama should be able to add it at the end.

            •  No. (23+ / 0-)

              That is not his oath; it is our oath. It is set forth, in specific terms, and without "under God," in the United States Constitution.

              Oh, how easy it is for members of the privileged majority to characterize their own privilege as insignificant and inoffensive.

              The world looks somewhat different to those of us who are marginalized and othered by heedless invocations of religious exclusion.

              •  Thank you for saying what I meant (5+ / 0-)

                but more eloquently.  Last spring I took a short course on the "establishment" and "free exercise" clauses of the First Amendment given by a constitutional lawyer.  It had been many years since I had read any of the material surrounding the development of these parts of the First Amendment.  I was truly shocked when I realized how far we've slipped and how the original purposes have become almost completely lost in the mists of time.

              •  Can you say more about that? (0+ / 0-)

                It's a bitter pill, but I think you're right: due to my privilege, I admittedly cannot see how this particular instance of church/state mingling contributes to actual marginalization of others, but I hear that you're experiencing it differently.  For me, I'm thinking about this in terms of the "amount of impact" this has on people (as if it could be quantified) verses other religious overreaches, such as the pledge of allegiance, which impacts countless people daily.  But I am hearing that this is not a useful framework for those without such privilege.

                For the sake of expanding my horizons, would you mind saying a little more about what you feel is at stake here?

                •  I think (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  obietom

                  partially, this one is extra clear becasue the actual oath is spelled out in the constitution.

                •  Who says (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  obietom, Uberbah

                  this is worse than the Pledge? Or "IGWT" on currency? That's an open--and irrelevant--question.

                  In all three cases, the message to millions of Americans that, because of our beliefs, we are not full members of the community, is loud and clear.

                  For the government to add "so help me God" to the constitutional oath is a violation of the Establishment Clause. Is it a worse violation than other ones? Who knows?

                  Your invocations of privilege are amusing, but the reality is that members of a powerful majority whose sensibilities are protected by unspoken (here religious) privilege are in a notably poor position to evaluate the "amount of impact" their impositions have on their societal inferiors.

                  But while that may be an important sociological point--with regard to racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., discrimination as well as the atheophobic kind--it's not legally relevant. Newdow isn't required to show that this unconstitutional act is more unconstitutional than the last unconstitutional act he asked the Supreme Court to rule unconstitutional.

            •  No it isn't his oath. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rieux, CParis, NY brit expat, kevin k

              It is an oath he is required to make to the people of the United States.  He makes the oath but it belongs to the people.  It is a promise to the people of the United States and it should not be qualified.

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 03:12:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Ah, so (6+ / 0-)

          If I were in Obama's position and did not use 'under God' you would think less of me, trust me less, reserve judgement?

          This is why religion not only needs to be driven from secular matters but preferably off the planet entirely.

          If Obama wants me to know he takes it seriously he only has to say so and repeating the words of the oath are enough for me.  Adding a qualifier negates the oath.  I don't care in angel's with flaming swords appear.  It wouldn't change a damn thing he does.  If God says "don't do that"  Obamas only response is "sorry, I must, I took an oath".

          So, yes, I trust the man less if makes an oath "under God".  It means his oath is qualified with the words "as long as I think it is what God wants me to do".

          Why should I trust that oath when god botherers have been using such for millennia  to avoid their responsibilities and dominate others.

          The oath that the president of the united states takes to enter office is not conditional on god's approval.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 03:11:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well put (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            clyde, Demena

            So, yes, I trust the man less if makes an oath "under God".  It means his oath is qualified with the words "as long as I think it is what God wants me to do".

            I am suspicious of people who claim that god speaks to them.  The last eight years under the adminstration of Bush -- who boasted that he answers to a "higher authority" -- has been a disaster.

            We need leaders who are accountable to the people, not to "god".  Too many people persue their own political interests while invoking god.

            •  Thank you. 30 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kevin k

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 08:17:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Keep in mind, (0+ / 0-)

              even among Christians, there are vast, raging differences in the beliefs of progressives like Obama and conservatives like Bush.  For instance, I believe I get messages from God sometimes, but I do not understand that to mean that my subsequent words and actions are somehow "God-ordained."  A Christian with an absolutist perspective might interpret her own encounters with God and subsequent entitlement completely differently.  All of this is to say, looking at all religious folks with equal amounts of suspicion is about as unhelpful as assuming that all people think about American politics the same way.

          •  To be fair (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Demena

            If a politician is going to make decisions based on faith, the presence (or absence) of such words in the oath doesn't change that.  And from my particular religious perspective (one that does not presuppose American exceptionalism, for example), "under God" isn't a necessarily a qualifier that means "only what God wants me to do" but can be a way to positively affirm one's humility and limitations - i.e. "I am not God."

            I mean, to me, the idea of America actually being "under God" - my God - is something I long for.  I'd love for America to be under the God of diversity, pluralism, inclusion, justice for the oppressed, and abundance for the impoverished.  But I know that all too often, the words "under God" are interpreted as a heavenly stamp of approval for everything America does, while for others, those words are experienced as marginalization, condemnation for not believing as the majority does.

            So on the one hand, I trust that Obama's faith stance is on the humility side - particularly compared with his predecessor.  But simply because it's Obama at the helm in this instance doesn't make it right.

            That there is widespread interpretation of what this could mean only underscores why religious language doesn't belong in an oath for public office in the first place.

      •  It's the little things that count. (7+ / 0-)

        I agree wholeheartedly with you obietom, that petitioning for a decision precluding the Chief Justice from uttering, "so help you God" when swearing in a U.S. president is not the largest battle to be fought on behalf of the separation of church and state.  But small, seemingly inconsequential steps forward in any trek does two very important things:

        They get things started.  In a small, symbolic way and with no great impact, these steps allow those who believe deeply in separation to savor victory and encourages their perseverence.

        Small steps also serve to inure the general public - that majority of religious folk in this country who feel protective of God's name being in oaths, pledges and on our money - to the prospect of a country whose invocation of God's blessings in every public forum is not a necessity for a good and ethical people.

        Of course it will not be possible to bring all religious people to accept the irreverence of spreading God's name across the public landscape, from the coercion of school children while reciting the pledge of allegiance to a piece of cloth, to printing His name on the country's filthy lucre.  But with small, consistent steps it may be possible for the less zealous among us to feel substantially less sanguine about the pervasive use of God's name than they do today.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:58:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't care what Obama want to say at the end (0+ / 0-)

          of his oath. I do care what future Presidents will be compelled to repeat that is not in the original oath.

          I don't expect this case to prevail but if it does it will be scrubbing a little of the wingnut WD-40 from the top of that slippery slope.

          The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

          by NCrefugee on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:31:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Outstanding Summary... (4+ / 0-)

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I am very serious about Church-State separation, but I didn't know this was tomorrow.

    •  applause (10+ / 0-)

      As one of the plaintiffs and an admirer of Mike Newdow, I very much appreciate your diary.

      •  There is much to be admired about him (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills, arodb, NY brit expat

        Reading about him in the press, it's easy to come away thinking he's a kook -- even if you feel you're basically on the same side as him.

        But I had a chance to hear him speak a few years ago, and came away very impressed. He has some very solid arguments for his position, and he clearly went into this with a good understanding of the broader implications of his fight, both for himself and for his country.

        In other words, he's very smart man, and he's no kook at all.

        Be the change that you wish to see in the White House.

        by Nowhere Man on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:50:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here's an Interesting Take on the Subject (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux, arodb, NY brit expat

      Inauguration Voodoo

      So CNN.com posted this news report which opens with this sentence: "A number of atheists and non-religious organizations want Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony to leave out all references to God and religion."  

      You can add, "and one Baptist minister" to that list.

    •  a couple of points about Newdow (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, snackdoodle, badger1968

      in the Elk Grove case I was shocked at the original ruling by the 9th Circuit since it was abslutely clear that he lacked standing on a number of grounds.

      On this case, it is also probably that he lacks standing.  The fact that the oath in the COnstituion does not include the words "so help me God" does not mean that they cannot be added.  Further, given that every president exeept possibly John Tyler has said the words and the Constitution and the Republic have not fallen, I find it hard to believe that any competent judge - and Walton certainly qualifies as more than competent - would find any basis for Newdow's motion.

      The Constitutional requirement has been fulfilled when the words BEFORE "so help me God" have been recited by the person taking the oath, and the rest has no bearing whatsoever, any more than would be "so help me the great flying spaghetti monster."  This is a silly legal action by Newdow.

      To return to Elk Grove, given that no one can be forced to recite the Pledge per West Virginia V Barnette in 1943, one would have to argue that the standing would come from one who waned to say the peldge but could not because of the addition of the wors "under God."  Bu since no penalty is applied for saying the pledge - a voluntary action - without the words, no injury occurs to the person who recites the pledge without the words, and thus again a court could easily find that there is no standing for a complaint.

      IANAL - but this seems very much like a slam dunk situation.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:23:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, please! (17+ / 0-)

        in the Elk Grove case I was shocked at the original ruling by the 9th Circuit since it was abslutely clear that he lacked standing on a number of grounds.

        Huh? Like what? The man's daughter was being instructed to recite a patently religious oath (as the 1954 Act of Congress made clear) in a public school! (During the school day! By a public school teacher!) Which Constitutional test for establishment do you think that doesn't fail?

        The Supreme Court deep-sixed the case on the basis of absurd concoctions about the standing rights of divorced parents. That ruling was politically-motivated bullshit; what other reasons are there to deny the man standing?

        The fact that the oath in the COnstituion does not include the words "so help me God" does not mean that they cannot be added.

        That's some deep Constitutional reasoning, there.

        The First Amendment in fact does bar the government from favoring one religion over another, or over the lack of religion. For the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the representative of the government in the ceremony (and the target, you fail to note, of Newdow's complaint), to add "so help me God" to the constitutional oath is an obvious establishment of religion.

        the rest has no bearing whatsoever....

        No doubt the Roberts Court will find some means (such as the absurd lie of "ceremonial deism" or the like) to conclude as much, but that's nevertheless obviously false: in addition to the obvious Establishment Clause problem, the presence or absence of "so help me God" has enormous "bearing" on the reaction of religious and irreligious people alike to the oath Obama will be taking, as you know perfectly well.

        The phrase is a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause. The only reason it survives is that a huge swath of the American people (including a regrettable streak of Supreme Court justices) have no interest in the Establishment Clause when it comes to their own cherished violations of same.

        Further, given that every president exeept possibly John Tyler has said the words and the Constitution and the Republic have not fallen....

        You have got to be kidding me. You are a teacher, for pity's sake; you know perfectly well that officers of the United States government have committed all manner of outrageous and unconstitutional acts within the past 220 years, "and the Constitution and the Republic have not fallen." Is that how you would have decided Korematsu? Or Brown? ("American schools have been segregated for centuries, and the Constitution and the Republic have not fallen....") What kind of stupid sneer is that?

        The allegation is that "so help me God" violates the First Amendment, not that it will bring down "the Constitution and the Republic." Stop insulting everyone's intelligence.

        To return to Elk Grove, given that no one can be forced to recite the Pledge per West Virginia V Barnette in 1943, one would have to argue that the standing would come from one who waned to say the peldge but could not because of the addition of the wors "under God."

        No. You clearly haven't read the Ninth Circuit's opinion. The Ninth Circuit held that the 1954 addition of "under God" to the Pledge was a Congressional endorsement of religion, and as a result public school teachers may not constitutionally lead students in the God-added Pledge--for precisely the same reasons that public school teachers may not lead ordinary prayers. As the court held, teacher-led recitations of the "under God" Pledge violate the endorsement test, the coercion test, and the Lemon test. And--hello?--parents do actually have standing to challenge religious indoctrination of their children in public schools.

        The Elk Grove case had absolutely nothing to do with "one who wan[t]ed to say the p[le]dge but could not because of the addition of the wor[d]s 'under God.'" I suggest you read the actual opinion before expostulating about it.

        Bu since no penalty is applied for saying the pledge - a voluntary action - without the words, no injury occurs to the person who recites the pledge without the words, and thus again a court could easily find that there is no standing for a complaint.

        By that logic, daily teacher-led school prayers in every classroom in the country would be constitutional--indeed unimpeachable. We can be thankful that you weren't the one charged with deciding those cases.

        In reality, as Newdow has no doubt cited in the current suit, taxpayers have standing to sue to prevent the disbursement of federal funds in contravention of the specific constitutional prohibition against government support of religion. Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968).

        In light of the ludicrous Hein decision (under which the Department of Homeland Security can't be sued for building and maintaining a church for Pat Robertson and Rick Warren if it decides that that'll help win the War on Terror), it's quite possible that the Court will gut Flast in order to deny Newdow's suit; the five assholes running the Court are utterly craven in their acceptance of religious establishment. But if the Establishment Clause has any meaning at all, there can be no serious debate that Newdow has standing here.

        IANAL - but this seems very much like a slam dunk situation.

        IAAL, and, well, yes. The widespread acceptance of religious privilege and atheophobia within the United States ensures that the government is allowed to violate the Establishment Clause with impunity when the only ox being gored is the one belonging to us scummy atheists. We are second-class citizens whose Constitutional rights are routinely rendered nugatory, and as a result Michael Newdow will lose. But don't pretend that that loss will be based on any kind of impartial and honest interpretation of Constitutional text or precedent.

        •  Standing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Uberbah

          I agree that in the Elk Grove case Newdow had a good case for standing, and I was really annoyed at the way SCOTUS punted the issue w/ the BS divorced parents rights.  On the other hand, the standing in this case seems to be much shakier.  

          You seem more knowledgeable on the issue.  Please enlighten me.

          •  Shakier.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Uberbah, NY brit expat

            On the other hand, the standing in this case seems to be much shakier.

            Well, in a sense, yes. The Supreme Court has recently (Hein is the main case in point) been mounting an assault on citizens' ability to vindicate their Establishment Clause rights in court. There is plenty of reason to believe that, if Newdow's current suit ever makes it to the Supremes, they will use the case as an opportunity to eviscerate Establishment Clause standing entirely.

            Regardless, for decades citizens have had the right to file suit to enjoin expenditures of their tax dollars on religious observances. That's the central holding of Flast v. Cohen, the seminal 1968 decision I cited above.

            Again, though, it appears that the Court's respect for the citizens' rights under the Establishment Clause is currently severely on the wane. Standing may indeed (once again) be the weapon by which Newdow's attempt to protect our constitutional rights is put to an unjust death.

            •  Eh... (0+ / 0-)

              ...having read through Flast, I'm still pretty unconvinced on the standing issue (nb- my skepticism is from a purely legal standpoint.  I am not arguing against the moral/ethical question nor over the substantive merits of the case.)

              Flast still requires a nexus between tax-payer and the exercise of congressional tax and spending power.  I suppose the argument in favor of standing would be that the inauguration is a tax-payer funded event, but I think the link is tenuous at best, especially given the prevailing legal view that the purpose of the Establishment Clause is to prevent the favoring of one or more religions over others.  Mere reference to the existence of an almighty deity, as ridiculous or offensive as it may be, is unlikely to meet the threshold of favoritism.

              •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                clyde, Uberbah

                the prevailing legal view that the purpose of the Establishment Clause is to prevent the favoring of one or more religions over others.

                It's extremely well established in precedent that the Establishment Clause also prevents the favoring of all religion over irreligion.

                I agree that the "ceremonial deism" excuse ("Mere reference to the existence of an almighty deity") is likely to come up in whatever the decision the court concocts to bounce Newdow's suit. But, in the real world (in which that reference is anything but "mere," as a simple glance at all the passion it invokes blatantly reveals), that's just a transparent disguise for the majority's maintenance of its own unjust religious privilege.

                The First Amendment bans establishment--except those establishments that "everybody knows" (never mind those nobodies we don't have to care about) are no big deal. It's a perfect formula for destroying the rights of marginalized minorities.

                •  clarification (0+ / 0-)

                  My language was imprecise.  I suppose I mean more that the Establishment Clause is seen as pertaining to religions in the institutional sense, rather than a vague nebulous deistic belief.  I guess it does just come down to the "ceremonial deism" excuse, although I would argue that reference to God can be substantive and not just ceremonial while at the same time not relate to a specific religious sect.  

                  To be honest, my knowledge of Establishment Clause cases is limited, so I defer to your expertise.  My larger point is that, right or wrong, I don't think this case will ever be decided on the merits.

                  •  Deism, schmeism. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Uberbah

                    I guess it does just come down to the "ceremonial deism" excuse...

                    Indeed.

                    I would argue that reference to God can be substantive and not just ceremonial while at the same time not relate to a specific religious sect.

                    I suppose I agree--but my point above is that even if that is true, that does not rescue an invocation of "God" from the Establishment Clause. An invocation that is a substantive reference to God does not pass EC muster just because it does "not relate to a specific religious sect"; the EC bars the government from promoting religion in general over irreligion as well as one "sect" over another.

                    The "ceremonial deism" excuse is that things like "In God We Trust" have been so entrenched in tradition and (er) ceremony that they're not even religious invocations anymore. So the point isn't that they avoid favoring one sect over another; it's that "In God We Trust," "so help me God," and "under God" are not religious at all.

                    Obviously, that idea is 100% Grade-A bullshit. Tens of millions of people--secularists and mainstream religionists alike--invest enormous religious meaning in that phrase. If they didn't, no one here would be worried about the political consequences of a court ruling one of them unconstitutional.

                    The ceremonial deism excuse is just patently intellectually dishonest doubletalk designed to insulate culturally privileged establishments of religion from the Establishment Clause. It's a blight on constitutional jurisprudence--one of many, of course.

      •  Teddy Roosevelt never said them (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sabishi, Uberbah

        At least that's what Wikipedia says.  Further, from that source, it says the exact words uttered at Presidential inaugurals have only been transcribed word-for-word fairly recently, so there's no way to actually know how many have said them.

        In fact, while they're attributed to George Washington, there is some doubt as to whether he really did or not.

    •  Thank you for posting this. (4+ / 0-)

      As a civil-rights movement, we atheists are just getting off the ground, but we're here, we're nonbelievers, and Americans need to get used to it.

    •  To paraphrase Colin Powell... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills, arodb

      "It's John Roberts.  He doesn't care about the Constitution."

  •  Who's motion is it? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bjornmmcc
  •  I will be utterly shocked (6+ / 0-)

    if this gets passed through Bush's Supreme Court.

    •  Right now this is district court... (22+ / 0-)

      a single jurist who is the facing irrefutable fact that the Chief Justice is about to defy the exact words of the constitution.

      He just could say that this should not be allowed.  It would not mar, suspend or disturb the inauguration.  In fact it would give it legitimacy and illustrate the change we are hoping for.  

      •  It would not mar it in my eyes, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Uberbah

        but the backlash might be more than we could imagine.  I'm not generally a concern troll, but here in the bible belt I've seen a whole lot of stupidity by the majority--angry church people are a motivated mob of partisans with time on their hands and the power to influence politicians.  I guess you'd call them reactionaries, but there are otherwise reasonable, educated, and in some cases liberal folks who would consider this a call to arms in defense of God.  I can't explain it, there seems to be a lot of discussion around here about how our troubles all began when we kicked God out of school.  If Newdow prevails I'll never hear the end of how Obama kicked God out of the oval office, regardless of how ridiculous that may be.

        Watch this space. Something brilliant will come to me soon, I'm sure.

        by tresgatos on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:26:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  tresgatos, the argument there is (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena, NonnyO, newpioneer, Uberbah, tresgatos

          self-defeating if you handle it right.

          "Kicked God out of school?"
          Who did?

          "Our troubles all began"

          Whose troubles?

          Troubles with what?

          Furthermore, if God is Almighty, how could poor little humans kick God out of anything?

          John Edwards:"One America does the work, another America reaps the rewards. One America pays the taxes, another America gets the tax breaks."

          by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:09:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is ok. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Uberbah

          I mean Bush built all those camps to hold them, passed legislation to put them to work and dispensed with posse comitatus to ensure the army could deal with them.

          Terrorists are terrorists and anyone who threatens me with "hell" for not agreeing with them is a terrorist.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 03:29:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (31+ / 0-)

    Hadn't heard of Newdow for some reason. I have been asked why I don't run for elected office. The answer is never argued.  

    I have upset a few people by pointing out that the line from "Imagine"

    "Imagine there's no Heaven."

    Is a big problem since I can only see heaven as imaginary.

    Some of us never got a box to think inside of.

    Too much sanity may be madness. The maddest of all is to see the world as it is and not as it should be. Don Quixote "Man of La Mancha"

    by Ginny in CO on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:19:01 PM PST

  •  Very important and very appreciated nt (7+ / 0-)

    Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

    by DawnoftheRedSun on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:21:10 PM PST

  •  This is not going to pass.... (7+ / 0-)

    I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not going to pass.  I'm sorry.  

    I think that the court will reject it for one reason, no one is forcing you to attend the inauguration.  Other court cases have followed that line of thinking, and I'm expecting the court to adhere to that.

    If it's a REQUIRED government function or other idea, then perhaps it might pass, but unfortunately I just don't see that happening.  

    •  That is an answer to his second count.... (14+ / 0-)

      but not the first.

      By altering the exact words, the only words in quotation marks in the entire constitution, the Chief Justice is breaking the highest law in the land, the constitution.

      There is no refutation for this.

      •  Yes there is.... (0+ / 0-)

        The key thing is that you don't have to watch the inauguration.  You can turn the channel, you don't have to attend.  It's not essential.  I believe the court is going to follow logic such as that.  If they don't, I'll be surprised, but that's what I expect.  

        •  I didn't have to watch Burris being sworn (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Uberbah, stillwaters

          But some of my elected representatives insisted that every jot and tittle of the Constitution was important last week.  It's probable that the meandering approach in his case was taken to avoid suit, among other reasons.  It may well be rejected, but I don't think for the reasons that you present.

          You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

          by Arsenic on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:25:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena, newpioneer, Uberbah, JSC ltd

          Violations of the Establishment Clause don't depend upon whether someone is entitled to watch or not to watch.

          Newdow's argument is that, during the ceremony, the Chief Justice is going to be saying--and thus giving governmental endorsement to--something that the First Amendment does not allow him to say in his official capacity. "You can change the channel" is not relevant to that contention.

          Oh, certainly, the judge will come up with a ludicrous basis to kick the suit--but not that one.

        •  No (0+ / 0-)

          They may follow that lone of logic but it fails.

          The oath the president takes should not qualified and if he qualifies it how is h legitimately a president?  He refused the oath.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 03:59:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  religious oaths of office forbidden by Const. (0+ / 0-)

          If I were Newdow, I'd be challenging Roberts not just with the Establishment Clause, but the fact that the Constitution specifically forbids requiring a religious oath of office.

          Obama is free to say "so help me God" if he want's to, but Roberts prompting Obama for it is a straight up violation of the Constitution.

      •  If you want to follow the Constitution (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boris Godunov, stillwaters, lompe

        Then cut the Chief Justice out of the ceremony entirely.  The Constitution doesn't mention him.  All it says about the inaugural oath is:

        Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

        "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

        The only other part of the Constitution relevant to the Inauguration is in Amendment XX:

        The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

        You can't use the Constitution to regulate the activities of the Chief Justice because they're not prescribed.  No more can you use the Constitution to regulate the route of the Inaugural Parade.  None of that stuff is in the Constitution.  It's just glitter.

    •  but the president (17+ / 0-)

      must be sworn in.

      the oath the president is to take is detailed, in quotes, in the constitution.  

      it does not include "so help me, god."

      pretty straightforward.

      "Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by Cedwyn on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:32:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Not a "Theist", but (34+ / 0-)

    ...damn -- I want religion as far away from the government or any public space as possible.

    No prayers, no Allah God, no wacko symbols that disenfranchise some of the people.

    Every non-secular government on the planet ends up turning into the taliban -- or worse.

    Stop praying in my government. Pray in the privacy of your home before you arrive!

  •  Matthew 6: 1-8 (21+ / 0-)

    1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    Prayer
    5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    Yes, winning was nice, but we go back to work 01-21-09. Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." -8.25, -6.21

    by Jacques on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:24:27 PM PST

    •  What do you mean by this? (0+ / 0-)

      Savez-vous quelque bien qui console du regret d'un monde?

      by DawnoftheRedSun on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:29:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My favorite sermon. nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, ZenTrainer, Jimdotz
    •  Wow. Impressive. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Jimdotz, Wolf Of Aquarius

      I remember learning in Hebrew school about tzedakah (charity, but in general, righteous actions), and how there were eight levels of it, the highest being anonymous charity to anonymous receivers.  This way, a hungry person got to eat, but there is no additional honor going in any direction.  I wonder if the Rabbis borrowed from the Christian Bible.

      I don't entirely agree with the passage, but then again, I'm an atheist. ;p  I'm all for public prayer, so long as my personal kinds of prayer are recognized -- there's got to be a Shehecheyanu at the Inauguration, and certainly speakers acknowledging the lack of deities, for me to be happy.

      •  Religion emerges as a means of preserving wisdom. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1, arodb

        Hence, in the search to acquire wisdom, Religion is a worthy area of study, as are Philosophy, Science, Mathematics, Music, Art, etc.

        "Morally pro-life" and "Legally pro-choice" are not mutually exclusive opinions. One can hold both positions earnestly.

        by Jimdotz on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:51:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Umm...you do know that the schools of Hillel and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JSC ltd

        Shamai preceded "christianity" by several hundred years, right? Everything Jesus "said" was from those two schools of thought, some of it misquoted, none of it original.

        No, the rabbis didn't borrow from the Christian "bible", christianity was invented by a pagan employee of the Sadducees who had an epileptic seizure while walking on the road to Damascus with his 20 pieces of silver. An unpleasant, violent man, a mercenary who came from a pagan city, who probably worshiped at the local alter of (IIRC) the dolphin-God.

        Your time in Hebrew school was wasted if that's all you came away with.

        Yes, winning was nice, but we go back to work 01-21-09. Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." -8.25, -6.21

        by Jacques on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:33:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A lot of their philosophy (0+ / 0-)

          came from the Greeks anyhow, didn't it?

        •  I haven't actually read the Talmud (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena

          And therefore I don't know which Rabbis formulated the eight levels.  Hence, I wonder at this.  I could have stopped my wondering by actually looking it up, but given that it's a single sentence in a comment, I figured it was worth just leaving it.

          But it's also true that much of Rabbinical Judaism came about in part as a response to Christianity.  The Second Temple wasn't destroyed until 70 CE, and there followed centuries of Rabbinical Jewish scholarship that coexisted with the emerging Christian religion.  The Talmud wasn't even closed until much later, not to mention that the BIBLE was barely finished by the time Hillel was around (he was born in 110 BCE, according to Wikipedia, and some of the political events mentioned in Daniel occurred in I think 169 BCE).  So for someone who didn't actually check, Christian influence on the eight levels of tzedakah is at the very least plausible.

          So the thing to do is to actually check:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/...
          The eight levels of tzedakah are due to Maimonides, not Hillel.  Yep, Rambam, in the MIDDLE AGES.  So there.  And it's hard to argue that Rambam could have had no influence from Christianity.

          I do concede that I was either taught incorrectly or learned it incorrectly (probably the latter, since there was a poster, unless the Conservative movement or someone else changed the eight levels), because Maimonides's highest level is giving work, not the double blind I describe in my post.  But the point stands.  Perhaps you should actually check your facts before yelling at people for not checking theirs.

          •  Maimonides consolidated what had already been (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1

            written. Nothing is "due to" him. While a lot of people quote him now, one of the complaints his contemporaries made against his work is that he didn't cite his sources for what he wrote. In the work you are not-quite-quoting, he did mention in the preface what his sources were. This is like writing a scientific paper with no footnotes or endnotes; but in the introduction saying, "Everything cited in this paper came from Book A, Paper B and Book C. I'm just not telling you from where I pulled each fact."

            I'll check on your wiki-link tomorrow, and if it supports you in saying that Maimonides originated the eight levels of charity, I'll correct it.

            Maimonides organized what was already written, and certainly popularized it, without citations, and using a methodology no one could get away with today. In all fairness, he wrote the Mishne Torah, which is the work you're quoting from, as a guide to daily observance, like the DMV's Rules of the Road booklets. It's not the whole law (Torah+Talmud etc./Vehicle Code+Civil law+case law and insurance regulations) but a guide to (living/driving) without screwing up.

            Yes, winning was nice, but we go back to work 01-21-09. Remember what FDR said, "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." -8.25, -6.21

            by Jacques on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 01:39:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Don't you think it was the other way around? (0+ / 0-)
    •  As an gentle skeptic (7+ / 0-)

      I appreciate that particular passage.

      In return, I will say that my 6 year old pointed out (13 years ago now) that I couldn't be an atheist, because I have no faith.

      I have since learned of Eric Hoffer, who said, "The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not."

      That's my sig over at Street Prophets.

      Personally, I wish we could just keep it out of government. We have so much to talk about in this reality.

      •  first time I heard Hoffer's observation... (4+ / 0-)

        and there is truth to that, especially on the passion to apathy scale.

        I guess most "strong" atheists were exposed to equally strong theism.  But for me, I would never attempt, not that I could, to "disabuse" anyone of their beliefs.

        My ur-belief is "whatever gets you through the night."

        •  I'm a "Strong Atheist"... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          supak, Uberbah, snackdoodle

          ...which is to say that I'm perfectly comfortable with other people holding irrational beliefs as long as they don't interfere with my desire to hold rational ones.

          Proselytizing always strikes me as appallingly rude.

          I am not a "strong atheist" in the sense of being in rebellion against a church or organized religion; I was raised atheist, by atheist scientists.

          My atheism is strong enough on its own...it needs no church to oppose.

          Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

          by WarrenS on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:23:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Er-- (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1, WarrenS, arodb, JSC ltd

            just as a point of education, the general definition of "'strong' atheism" in the atheist community is this one:

            Strong atheism is a term generally used to describe atheists who accept as true the proposition, "gods do not exist". Weak atheism refers to any other type of non-theism. Historically, the terms positive and negative atheism have been used for this distinction, where "positive" atheism refers to the specific belief that gods do not exist, and "negative" atheism refers merely to an absence of belief in gods. Because of flexibility in the term "god", it is understood that a person could be a strong atheist in terms of certain portrayals of gods, while remaining a weak atheist in terms of others.

            Please note that "strong" atheism is merely a technical philosophical position; it has nothing to do with fervency or hostility toward religious ideas or people. A "strong" atheist can be entirely passive, apathetic, or even sympathetic in practice when confronted by religious ideas or people... and by the same token a "weak" atheist can be (as WarrenS put it above) "in rebellion against a church or organized religion."

            These terms mean things, guys.

            •  Yes, exactly... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sychotic1, arodb

              ...I am a strong atheist in this sense, with the caveat that I believe gods are created by individuals and institutions, and in that sense can be "believed in" by others without contradiction.

              "Tonality" is a musical belief system which has developed over centuries in Western European culture.  While it has both physical and philosophical origins, it is essentially an artificial construct...yet believers in "tonality" have created some of the world's most magnificent music.  "Raga" is a musical belief system which has developed over centuries in Indian culture; some of its physical and philosophical origins are common with those of tonality, and believers in "raga" have also created magnificent music, despite the system's artificiality.  Both systems are the response of human pattern-seeking behavior when it encounters simple acoustical phenomena.

              I think of "god" as analogous to "tonality;" a near-universal response by human pattern-seeking behavior when it encounters existential phenomena.

              So...yes, I'm a strong atheist in multiple senses (including the sense elucidated by Rieux), and I have no problem with other people having religion(s).

              Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

              by WarrenS on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 09:37:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Proselytizing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Uberbah

            is worse than rude to me. It is a throw-back to missionaries running around the world with the equivalent of the Bush doctrine, saying do it our way or we'll kill you.

            I'm not a real nice guy to begin with, but when these people show up at my front door to sell me their god, I ask them if they support Bush. 99% of them have. At that point I get really rude, and they back away slowly and never return.

            My wife says some of those exchanges are the funniest things she's ever heard.

            •  My Dad was one of those missionaries. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              supak, Uberbah

              He hit post-war Japan full of zealotry.  I remember him admitting his early frustrations, such as trying to get the Japanese women to cover their heads in church--which was not a cultural affectation.  He finally gave that up.  However, the Japanese were receptive as thier general attitude toward America at that time was since we actually defeated them, they had something to learn from us.  I do admire the Japanese ability to absorb any number of religions without giving up their basic Buddhist and Shinto beliefs.  All in all, Dad's evangelizing of Japan was a failure.    

              After 30 years there my father was a much different man.  The concept of Karma entered his lexicon and he became more spiritual than strictly christian.  I still split from my family regarding the need for religion and to this day am considered a heathen embarrassment.

              There is room for ritual in our lives but I do not like "God" being called on during everything from football games to inaugurations.  The very idea that some entity that controls the entire universe would give a shit amuses me.

  •  The most hated woman in America would proud (8+ / 0-)

    Madalyn Murray O'Hair

    "Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

    by liberalconservative on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:26:58 PM PST

  •  God's help should not enter into the decisions (13+ / 0-)

    that the leader of a secular state makes. Period.

    Thanks for shedding light on this continuing issue.

    Where's the f'n $9 billion? I have student loans to pay.

    by cocomas on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:37:35 PM PST

    •  Morality certainly should. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hamletta, snackdoodle

      And if a leader's moral compass is guided by his or her religion - as President Obama's is, at least according to his own words - then their religiosity will definitely come into play.

      President Obama's Christianity has taught him to be concerned for the poor, outcast, and downtrodden, to be compassionate and respectful toward others, to concentrate on the things that bring people together rather than tear them apart.  That isn't to say that these things can't be found outside religion, but for those of us who are religious, we find them within our religion.

      I have absolutely no problem with President Obama asking for God to help him uphold and defend the Constitution.  For those of us who believe in God, we hope God will answer that request and help President Obama.  Goodness knows any American president in this day and age needs all the help he or she could get.

      Join the Matthew 25 Network and help Democrats win the next generation of evangelicals.

      by mistersite on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:03:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the case is not trying to prevent Obama (9+ / 0-)

        from saying "so help me god"

        If you read my links carefully, Newdow is specifically saying that he is only attempting to enjoin the Chief Justice from including this in what is purported to be his recitation of the "constitutional oath of office."

      •  Not to say that Christianity (13+ / 0-)

        in its best form doesn't teach those things, but I believe, after reading Obama's book, that it was Obama's atheist anthropologist mother who taught him those principles.

      •  Yes and many of us have learned those same (8+ / 0-)

        principles without any gods in our lives and we're still full-blooded, righteous Americans and should be represented by a government equally without concern to which gods are directing its members' decisions.

        Sure, Obama will be praying for all the help he can get, but let's hope he keeps his relationship and conversations with his higher power under greater wraps than the current WH occupant. He should be able to uphold the oath of his office with or without the help of any gods.

        Where's the f'n $9 billion? I have student loans to pay.

        by cocomas on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:59:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Honestly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, arodb

        "President Obama's Christianity has taught him to be concerned for the poor, outcast, and downtrodden, to be compassionate and respectful toward others, to concentrate on the things that bring people together rather than tear them apart."

        Lordy, lordy. Please do give one example of anything other than talk where Obama helped the poor, outcast or downtrodden. He has spent his life trying to be elected. Think of the Chicago slums owned by Rezko. Think of the amounts of money he has not given to charity. Can you think of one person who has come forward to say that Obama has helped him in a difficult time? Respectful to others? Hmmmm. Don't look under the bus. Bring people together? Democrats may have voted for him, but the country is more divided than ever politically, and the division between black and white is deeper than when the election began.
        I sincerely hope and pray (!) that he does a good job and makes the world a better place. As God helps those who help themselves, I hope Obama works hard and now puts the regular person ahead of corporations. Do you believe?

        I'm an athiest.

      •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Demena, Uberbah

        President Obama's Christianity has taught him to be concerned for the poor, outcast, and downtrodden, to be compassionate and respectful toward others, to concentrate on the things that bring people together rather than tear them apart.

        I'm not convinced that that's true. In Dreams From My Father and (especially) The Audacity of Hope, Obama states that he learned those kinds of lessons from his mother, a non-believer, years before his religious conversion.

        I hope you note the influence of Ann Dunham's loving secular worldview on her son's outlook. He has.

        •  The thing about it is what his mother taught (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena

          him in values and what he found in Christianity are pretty close to the same. The idea that raising the least among us raises us all certainly can be considered religious ideal, but it also just common sense. There are many paths to those truths, some go thru a church and some do not.

          •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Uberbah

            [W]hat his mother taught him in values and what he found in Christianity are pretty close to the same.

            Well, then it's passing strange that mistersite only mentioned Christianity, and not Obama's secular mother, as the source of these lessons. (If he learned them from Mom in childhood, why would he need to relearn them from Christianity? And why didn't mistersite write "relearn"?)

            More to the point, how do you know this? I have cited Obama's moving description of his mother's worldview in The Audacity of Hope; what gives you the idea that he learned "pretty close to the same" things from Christianity?

            The man is now a professing Christian, so undoubtedly he has found something of value there--but what leads you to believe that these lessons are (among) the things he has found?

            •  I believe he gravitated toward the church he did (0+ / 0-)

              not just any Christian church because they have been at the forefront of social justice issues in the community. He didn't relearn lessons, what the church was doing, what they preached hit a familiar chord. They shared values. You may not like Christianity, but many of the lessons are truly just common sense, truths we shouldn't have to go to church to recognize.

              •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                todadikes, Uberbah

                He didn't relearn lessons, what the church was doing, what they preached hit a familiar chord.

                That is a fundamentally different story than mistersite told above. Mistersite's version mentions no "chord"; (s)he just says Obama learned these things from Christianity. That's a much different claim than the one you've retreated to, and mistersite's story notably sidelines and silences the role of non-religious moral education in the President-Elect's early life. (We nonbelievers are well used to being sidelined and silenced.)

                You may not like Christianity, but many of the lessons are truly just common sense, truths we shouldn't have to go to church to recognize.

                Says you. The main reason I (like many other nonbelievers) don't "like Christianity" is that, after many years of study of the religion, I found that the central moral "lessons" (or in fact assertions) therein tend to be ugly and untenable. "Common sense" within Christianity seems to me mainly to be something that moderns have imported into the religion to suit their own mores rather than something that had any significant role before they showed up.

                •  He learned them from his mother. (0+ / 0-)

                  As for Christianity, the basic teachings of Jesus are really no different than the teachings of any love based belief. Any system that holds at its core social justice, the golden rule, being decent to one another is the same and that goes for non believers too. You say you don't believe in god or religion and thats fine, but it isn't that you have no beliefs. I know a lot of Atheists, lot in my own family, we aren't at odds over beliefs. Believing in god is really irrelevant it is how you live your life, those values we do agree on. The advantage Obama had by virtue of his Athiest mother is SHE taught him values, he didn't go to church to find them. He was a decent human being long before he became a Christian. Not all Christians are like Rick Warren or Jerry Falwell, many do get it. I lucky enough to get a message of loving inclusion and social justice. It has served me well even tho I long ago left the church and moved past the need for a traditional belief in god, or heaven and hell. Organized religion tends to get in the way, too many take it as the only answer and never look beyond what they are told to what they can see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts. We all have to find our own truth. I have the greatest respect for people who do the right thing for its own sake not for the possible reward of heaven or threat of hell.

                  •  Thanks, but.... (0+ / 0-)

                    You say you don't believe in god or religion and thats fine, but it isn't that you have no beliefs. I know a lot of Atheists, lot in my own family, we aren't at odds over beliefs. Believing in god is really irrelevant it is how you live your life, those values we do agree on. The advantage Obama had by virtue of his Athiest mother is SHE taught him values, he didn't go to church to find them. He was a decent human being long before he became a Christian.

                    I appreciate these kind comments; thank you.


                    However--at the risk of showing ingratitude for the above--many of us who grew up within Christian religious communities (to preemptively head off the common stereotype, I must add that my upbringing was liberal Christian, not fundamentalist) have come to the conclusion that the Christianity presented in the Bible and in mainstream theology is not in fact "love based," nor does it "hold[ ] at its core social justice, the golden rule, [or] being decent to one another." Many of us do not in fact accept that "the basic teachings of Jesus," as presented in the Gospels, are good or kind ones.

                    Unquestionably there are Christian communities whose espoused principles are, in the main, good and humane ones. But many of us see ample reason to believe that this goodness has actually been imported from outside Christianity--that liberal Christianity is in fact a modern perversion of a religion that is, "at its core," ugly and cruel.


                    None of this has any real relevance to the Establishment Clause; certainly no particular perspective on Christianity (or for that matter atheism, among many other (un)belief systems) deserves any privileged place in government. I just want to point out that it's not actually self-evident or universally agreed that Christianity, or the recorded teachings of Jesus, are basically good. There are in fact honest and reasonable differences of opinion on that matter.

                    Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while [God] was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!

                    Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at the very worst in those old days!

                    Meek and gentle? By and by we will examine this popular sarcasm by the light of the hell which he invented.

                    - Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

                    •  Hell is the absence of god. (0+ / 0-)

                      Not from the standpoint of believing or not believing, more about living one's life in such a way you are forever denied access to god, think Hitler. I could go on and on about what a silly notion this is even theologically. But then I grew up Catholic taught by Jesuits who urged us to question everything, armed us with the ability to think critically and did such a good job I questioned myself right out of the church. There is no doubt Christianity has problems, it was after all constructed by humans. I would think just about any belief constructed by humans would have issues.

                      We are not a Christian nation, we are inhabited by more Christians than any other religion which is not the same thing. We have forgotten how important religious liberty was to the founding of this country, how so many who came here had been persecuted. The famous Jefferson "wall between church and state" letter was written in response to a letter of concern by the Danbury Baptists, a group very troubled because there were no laws in the Connecticut constitution preserving religious liberty or forbidding the establishment of a state religion.

                      Religious minorities in this country, any system outside Christianity really get the short end of the stick, we are not terribly inclusive or sensitive. Which is why it is so important the government remain neutral. When our currency was redesigned I thought at long last "in God we trust" would be removed, it has no place there, no place in the Pledge either. I would love to see an inauguration devoid of religious overtones and gestures.  Swear their oath on the Constitution, invoke the great principles this country was founded upon, but exhorting god to shine favorably on us takes us into the realm of myth and magic.  Unfortunately, historically religion has managed to insinuate its self into the inaugurations. I do not believe Roberts should say the words so help me god as part of the oath, if Obama wants to add it after the fact is up to him, apparently other presidents have. Personally I wouldn't care if it was so help me Thor, or great unknown entity we hope will save our butts, or on the Constitution or just omitted. But I also view it as a purely personal statement of sincerity and nothing else.

                      I don't see the struggle to keep Christianity out the the sphere of influence in government ending anytime soon, even with the Republican party in shambles. The good news is even with so help me god, Obama is immune, no more pandering to the right wing. He has pretty well cemented himself as a good Christian to the rest of the nation. There will come a time in the not too distant future when he will use his Christianity as a teachable moment when he presses for marriage equality. If he can make it work, he will have managed not only to gain marriage equality for gays, but put forth new appreciation of the importance of maintaining the separation of church and state, particularly for the deeply religious. When it happens we will have his mother to thank for it.

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        I have absolutely no problem with President Obama asking for God to help him uphold and defend the Constitution.  For those of us who believe in God, we hope God will answer that request and help President Obama.  Goodness knows any American president in this day and age needs all the help he or she could get.

        Nor do I.  But the oath of office is the oath of office.  Inserting an oath there is about as useful and convincing as closing hospitals on the Sabbath.

        Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

        by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 04:25:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Any help is appreciated right now. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      unterhausen

      I'll even let God help, if it would help.

    •  LMAO - Yes!! (Holy F**k) - NT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1
    •  See thats the thing, no matter where we get our (0+ / 0-)

      values, even from the dreaded church they do play out in public policy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. FDR's religious beliefs led him to the New Deal.

  •  Some would say (0+ / 0-)

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    if there is no Creator, then there can be no unalienable rights. They would ask....want to trade...do away with Creator for do away with unalienable rights.

    Dare I disturb your beliefs? Yes, yes I do!

    by Void Indigo on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:40:43 PM PST

  •  If there is no God, there is no America. But... (10+ / 0-)

    ... not in the way some people might want you to think.  It's not that America is a Christian nation and depends on Christianity.

    Instead, it's this.  "America" is a fiction - it's an idea that a lot of people came together and decided was good.  Wars have been fought over it, people have bitterly divided opinions over it, and it has radically changed the face of the world.  But that's also true of religion.  And there's nothing you can point to and say "that's America" - only things that people have agreed to associate with America.  You can't prove America has any objective existence.  It exists to the extent that people say it does.

    I consider myself a Christian.  I think Newdow has every right to bring his suit.  Let it be considered on legal grounds.  Let it stand or fall on its merits.  I don't need my religious beliefs baked into legislation, because I'm content to believe in two things.  I believe in a just and loving God.  And I believe in a free country where your faith is your own.

    •  "I believe in a free country where your faith is (10+ / 0-)

      your own."

      That's right at the heart of it. I'm a mystic and a universalist. My relationship with the Beloved is personal and private. I consider everyone's relationship or belief that there's no relationship to be had is equally personal and private. No one belief or way is paramount. None should be forced down someone else's throat. When all is said and done, every single human being has her/her unique view about this, and each should be respected, including Newdow's.

      "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

      by TheWesternSun on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:07:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Only Prayer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    that should be allowed to be spoken at any government function is, "Thank the Powers That Were for the US Constitution."  The response is, of course, "Amen to that!"

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 04:56:09 PM PST

  •  why i'm not an atheist. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snackdoodle, Wolf Of Aquarius

    what we know from science and anthropology suggests that the Abrahamic religions are mythology. The texts from these religions are so inconsistent with what we know about how old the earth is and how we evolved to what we are.

    but to be an atheist i would have to know that there was no afterlife. I am fairly certain there is not an all powerful all knowing God but I have no inclination whatsoever if there is or is not an afterlife or a soul that transcends the body.

    that's why i'm an agnostic. Atheism requires faith.

    •  Not really... (14+ / 0-)

      I'm an atheist based on all that I know.  If after death there really is something else, not only would I be surprised, but quite disturbed.

      Without this body, a source of pleasure, pain and motivation, without the battle to survive, any afterlife would be so alien I can't imagine it.

      In fact, even to say "I" in these circumstances is rather meaningless.   The "I" is both the body and the mind, or soul if you like.

      But agnostic is fine by me.

      •  Frankly.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, melpomene1, Wolf Of Aquarius

        there are a lot of wonderful people I would like to meet again in heaven and a whole lot I wouldn't. I would love to see my parents again, but then there are a few guys and a husband that I dumped badly back in the day. If they are in heaven, I DON'T want to see them. Heaven sounds crowded and completely improbable. As arobd said - it would be rather disturbing.
        When I die, and as I am in my 70s that is something to ponder, I hope to just go to sleep as pain free and happy as possible. The idea of living forever is not really interesting, unless I know everything that is going on. Do they have the internet in heaven? Will I be able to listen in to conversations? Read newspapers? Travel the earth as a spirit? Whisper in ears?

        •  And to add one of my favourite quotations... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, Demena, Wolf Of Aquarius

          Most women have read 'The Shell Seekers', by Rosamund Pilcher. When Penelope dies and her daughters are planning her funeral, they tell the Vicar - "But she didn't believe in God." The Vicar says, "Don't worry. I'm sure God believed in her." (paraphrasing...)
          So.... to cover all bases, I do hope God (should he/she improbably exist) believes in me.

          •  y'know, I am not a fan of Pilcher (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1

            but I think probably the best quote I ever found on Heaven vs. Hell is by Lois McMaster Bujold. The speaker is Simon Illyan, and I think the name of the book is Memory.

            "The difference between heaven and hell is mostly a matter of the company you keep there."

            John Edwards:"One America does the work, another America reaps the rewards. One America pays the taxes, another America gets the tax breaks."

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:29:38 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Years ago I had a near death experience (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena

          left and came back, well hovered and came back. A lot of people are going to be surprised, it isn't Club Med.  What I do know is it doesn't matter if you believe or don't believe, it matters how you live your life and the lessons you learn. I can tell you too, what I experienced was way better than God or heaven or all the myths we've been taught. I have the greatest respect for individuals who can live decent and loving lives without expectation of heaven or the punishment of hell, because the sad fact is organized religion very often gets in the way of us getting to where we need to be.

      •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe you want to start looking at some quantum physics if are truly interested in what "I" is.

        No thirty, depends on you.

        Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

        by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 04:57:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Atheist means lack of belief in god. That's all. (14+ / 0-)

      Not believing in god does not imply any other beliefs, so feel free to be an atheist who happens to believe in an afterlife.

      Also atheism doesn't require faith unless you are a strong atheist who states with absolute certainty that there is no god. That is not however the prevailing belief among atheists, most are agnostic to some extent.

      We hope your rules and wisdom choke you / Now we are one in everlasting peace
      -6.63, -6.97

      by amRadioHed on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:31:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Positive Atheism v. Negative Atheism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb

      Most people who consider themselves agnostics are generally Negative Atheists.  

      I personally would also be a Negative Atheist, and I prefer that term to Agnostic because "Agnostic", to me, implies someone who doesn't care one way or another.  It has a "slacker" vibe to it, rather than a reasoned, rational, well-researched decision.

      "Don't hope for a stronger America. Vote for one." - John McCain. And I did!

      by cartwrightdale on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:57:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have reasoned... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wolf Of Aquarius

        I have researched and I have made a rational decision.

        I don't know, I will never know, and I don't care because I will live my life trying to help and build and at least try rather than waiting for the answers.

        I am not a slacker either..just feel there are more important things in the world to worry about than whether there is a god or not and more things to waste time on than telling everyone else what to believe.

    •  Belief in God is not... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snackdoodle, JSC ltd

      ...a prerequisite for believing in an "afterlife."  Off the top of my head I can posit at least one plausible scenario for "eternal life after death" that does not require a deity or any sort of divine power...and that is easily more comprehensible and logical than the eschatological schemes advanced by those world religions that include "afterlife" as part of their package.

      Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

      by WarrenS on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:32:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine...nt. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stillwaters

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:01:19 PM PST

  •  Buried Lede. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Feanor, dconrad

    That's an important court case, but I had to read through the entire thing to figure out what the case was about.  It would be nice if you added a sentence or two near the top, perhaps above the fold, to indicate what this court case is actually about, because not everyone has these memorized.

  •  Madalyn Murray O'Hair (13+ / 0-)

    Madalyn Murray O'Hair

    "Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

    by liberalconservative on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:06:19 PM PST

  •  This is something smart. This is productive. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Demena, ZenTrainer, arodb, joehoevah

    Rick Warren, as I've continually said, and time has been on my side, is very much so a moderate in evangelical America.

    The problem is not that Warren's too right wing, it's that he's religious, period. If you're talking about a sane, coherent government culture.

    That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

    by Nulwee on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:07:30 PM PST

  •  No, the historical court case was yesterday. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    supak, arodb, joehoevah

    Tomorrow's event could be historic.

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, snafubar, stillwaters

    for the diary. Hadn't heard a word about it. Obviously I should be paying more attention. Would certainly like to see the transcript, when it shows up.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:14:04 PM PST

  •  Shit ain't Gonna pass (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftofArizona, cartwrightdale, TheCid

    And as a atheist. This shit is embarrassing. It's just opening more national hate for us, and more legal laws made to discriminate against us.

    Remember, the constitution doesn't mean jack when 2/3rds of the nation hates your guts!

  •  That was the best dicta joke (0+ / 0-)

    they could come up with?

  •  An atheist defines God to deny God's existence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snackdoodle

    but if existence is God, God cannot be denied.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:17:42 PM PST

    •  Another way of thinking.. (5+ / 0-)

      Metaphysical naturalism, or ontological naturalism, characterizes any worldview in which reality is such that there is nothing but the natural things, forces, and causes or the kind that the natural sciences study, i.e. the things, forces and causes which are required in order to understand our physical environment and which have mechanical properties amenable to mathematical modeling. Metaphysical naturalism entails that all concepts related to consciousness or to the mind refer to entities which are reducible to or supervene on such natural things, forces and causes. More specifically metaphysical naturalism rejects the objective existence of any supernatural thing, force or cause, such as are described in humanity’s various religions and mythological accounts. Metaphysical naturalism is a monistic and not a dualistic view of reality.

      Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

      by ohcanada on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:23:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I reject dualism. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sychotic1

        Dualism is the kind of thinking that leads to us vs. them.

        "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:27:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is an up... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Greasy Grant, BYw, Wolf Of Aquarius

          and a down. An on and an off. An "exists" and a "doesn't exist".

          Dualism is built into the universe.

          That it may have unpleasant consequences in human social interactions has no bearing on its truth value.

          Lots of unpleasant things are true.

          --Shannon

          "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
          "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

          by Leftie Gunner on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:06:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Schroedinger's cat is very confused (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1

            The Universe is curved by the matter in it. Up and down are human constructs to describe relative conditions.

            Where have you found "doesn't exist" in the universe (excepting Republican delusions)?

            Is a photon a particle or is it a wave?

            "It's the planet, stupid."

            by FishOutofWater on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:35:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We have + charge and - charge (0+ / 0-)

              matter and antimatter, forward in time and backward in time,...

            •  Yes, "up" and "down" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              robbk, Boisepoet

              are meaningful only in a specific context. Still, within that domain, they are meaningful... if you get them confused at the top of a tall building, you die.

              Doesn't exist: Leprechauns, Santa Claus, Phlogiston, the ether, natural male enhancement.

              Photons are either and/or both, depending on what you measure, and how you measure it. This simply means that the two terms are inadequate to describe what they are. But, liguistic difficulties aside, they are something, which means that they are not something else.

              And our personal reactions or beliefs have no force in the world. We cannot wish anything into or out of existence, because the universe doesn't care what we want.

              --Shannon

              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:55:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  A photon? (0+ / 0-)

              Is a notification.  It doesn't exist.  It is just a message.

              If you doubt that then play with some arithmetic.  How much time passes for a photon to arrive here from alpha centaurai?  To us about four point three years.  To the the photon? Zero time elapses.

              Is a photon a particle or is it a wave?

              Just like you, it is neither.  It has some properties of both.

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 05:11:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry Shannon (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sychotic1

            But you are not correct.

            Dualism is not built in to the 'universe' it is a manifestation of it.

            You see the 'universe' is really a 'multiverse' of some sort and it only looks like a 'universe' when we look at it from our 'single space/timeline'.  So what we see is dualism but that is what we see, not what 'is'.

            Sorry there is not a lot of vocabulary for much of this.

            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

            by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 05:07:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And even that much is not certain... (0+ / 0-)

              The multiverse models are just that. And, as I understand it, there are several such models, conflicting with each other at various levels, and to varying degrees.

              Clearly, they can't all be right, although they may all be wrong.

              We do have a tendency to think as if the limitations of our language actually limit what we're describing. They don't.

              However reality works, that's how it works, and it would work that way whether anyone was describing it or not.

              And at least on the levels we're pretty sure of, dualism is a real thing. It's not a delusion of the Western mind. And it shouldn't be rejected simply because "it leads to us vs them thinking." That's all I meant by "built in". It's a part of reality. We're stuck with it.

              --Shannon

              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 12:52:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

                The multiverse models are just that. And, as I understand it, there are several such models, conflicting with each other at various levels, and to varying degrees.

                Ah, yes.  But I am arrogant enough to think I have much of the principles worked out.  There are some "natural laws" that we have missed.  I think all current multiverse theories are primitive if not bunk.  None of them seem to cater for the parsimonious nature of nature.  Just about all of them think of "timelines" and branching and diverging.  I think this view is an artifact of the way we currently think.

                It isn't so much time "lines" as "roads" with jagged and overlapping edges.

                We do have a tendency to think as if the limitations of our language actually limit what we're describing. They don't.

                Please explain.  Exactly what you are saying.  I think there is a language limitation making it hard to see exactly what your point is here.

                However reality works, that's how it works, and it would work that way whether anyone was describing it or not.

                I can't and wouldn't argue with that.  Actually, no I would.  If you replace describe with "perceive" or "could possibly perceive" you get a different story.  The 'measurement' problem raises its head again.

                And at least on the levels we're pretty sure of, dualism is a real thing. It's not a delusion of the Western mind. And it shouldn't be rejected simply because "it leads to us vs them thinking." That's all I meant by "built in". It's a part of reality. We're stuck with it.

                I disagree. I think dualism is an illusion cause by us not able to perceive the whole thing.  "Reality" appears to be fungible.  

                Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 05:34:57 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  you and I need to sit down with (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Demena

                  some really good smoke, some Pink Floyd (on vinyl, please), and some high-grade Scotch.

                  We'll figure this out.

                  -Shannon

                  "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                  "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                  by Leftie Gunner on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 09:39:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Metaphysical dualism is entirely different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FishOutofWater

          and has absolutely nothing to do with social relations. I reject dualism too, but based on actual evidence rather than some sort of notion of what I want society to be like. (Ironically, Mills, who supports dualism, does so entirely based on what he wants society to be like. Same fallacy, different result.)

      •  Can you differentiate MN from atheism... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        since your descriptin defines my worldview, which I refer to as atheism.

        •  It is my worldview too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Demena, arodb

          I live surrounded by nature.

          The ancient religions of Africa and Asia revered what we do.  The Indians of South America, those untarnished, share the reverence, it was universal.. before the Catholic Church glommed onto the concept in an entirely different way.

          Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

          by ohcanada on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:49:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw

            The ancient religions of Africa and Asia revered what we do.

            No, they didn't. Early religions were universally animistic. Their adherents literally thought that there were gods of rain, sunshine, game, and fertility, and material things, and that their ancestors literally lived on around them.

            While we might share the same sense of wonder, ours is informed and metaphorical; theirs was not.

            •  Yes they were animist...using wiki for this. (0+ / 0-)

              Psychological reasons
              The justification for attributing life to inanimate objects was stated by David Hume in his Natural History of Religion (Section III): "There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object those qualities with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious."[4]

              Think thats as good and simple an explanation as I can find.

              Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

              by ohcanada on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:49:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  quotemstr, I think you're misinformed (0+ / 0-)

              No, they didn't. Early religions were universally animistic. Their adherents literally thought that there were gods of rain, sunshine, game, and fertility, and material things, and that their ancestors literally lived on around them.

              While we might share the same sense of wonder, ours is informed and metaphorical; theirs was not.

              My sense of wonder, as of way-too-early-Sunday morning, isn't rational and informed and I'm nearly 50. What it hasn't had educated out of it with science, reading, and "be reasonable" in a variety of contexts over five decades is this:

              some of the bright spots in the sky move, and I don't know why, or what they are. I am not necessarily afraid of them, but I'm not necessarily confident they're not, say, oncoming meteorites.

              John Edwards:"One America does the work, another America reaps the rewards. One America pays the taxes, another America gets the tax breaks."

              by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:35:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Umm... (0+ / 0-)

              Well, so you have been led to believe.  But we all know that the generations before us were stupid idiots don't 'we'.

              Anyway, how do you know they were incorrect?

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 05:15:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  As someone said in an earlier comment, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1

          it is possible to believe in souls or spirits and not believe in God. By soul, I think one means something which is not physical but represents your consciousness. If you want to get philosophical about it you could slice such beliefs into several categories:

          1. Dualism: Mind and matter both exist but have separate properties.
          1. Materialism: Only matter exists.
          1. Idealism: Only mind exists.
          1. Neutral Monism: Mind and matter are the same thing.

          I'm going to insert my own opinion here and say that I think that both Materialism and Idealism are wrong. Materialism because we clearly have evidence of a mind (our own subjective consciousness) that does not manifest itself physically. And Idealism because there are laws of physics "out there" which are followed irrespective of the existence of minds.

          •  Oh, wow! (0+ / 0-)

            I'm a member of group number 8.  Thanks for the enlightenment.

            Materialism because we clearly have evidence of a mind (our own subjective consciousness) that does not manifest itself physically.

            The above is false.

            And Idealism because there are laws of physics "out there" which are followed irrespective of the existence of minds.

            How do you know?  This is unprovable.

            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

            by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 05:18:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  And whose God is being denied? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb, snackdoodle, Wolf Of Aquarius

      an actual "god" or divine presence or some particular church's version of "god".   Many atheists I know reject the God of their youth, the God of the Methodists, without considering whether the Methodists lack the tools to measure "god" accurately in the first place.

      Maybe searching for the divine, and being open the possibiities, is more rewarding than saying, I didn't like the God I was raised with.

      •  And maybe (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        todadikes, Demena, gtghawaii

        actual atheists in real life--as opposed to the bigoted stereotypes you push--actually have learned a thing or two about the gods our neighbors say they believe in and have concluded that belief those gods (including "an actual 'god' or divine presence") is untenable.

        Maybe atheists are not, contrary to your absurd insults, ignorant morons who are sorely inferior to Your Wondrousness.

    •  That which is material exists, and nothing more. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, stillwaters

      All other nouns represent patterns imagined by the mind in an attempt to understand the "emergent properties" of material existence.

      What are "emergent properties"? Consider Chess.

      The pieces and their moves are simple, but the strategies that make the game interesting emerge from the rules.

      Chess Strategy is beautiful, but accidental. It is not written into the Rules, but an "emergent property" of the Rules.

      So it is with gods.

      Gods are a beautiful way of understanding Humanity's place and fate, but the concept of gods emerge from the Human Mind.

      Gods exist, but not materially. They are only as real as our minds let them exist.

      Some people need their gods -- and this Atheist will not try to take that away from them -- but they are not material.

      "Morally pro-life" and "Legally pro-choice" are not mutually exclusive opinions. One can hold both positions earnestly.

      by Jimdotz on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:20:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, if God is the chair I'm sitting in, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chase, Rieux, Dave in RI, todadikes, Boisepoet

      God cannot be denied. If, however, you are God, and God is green, and green is the tooth fairy, then neither you nor God nor green exists, since the tooth fairy doesn't exist.

      See how much fun we can have when we redefine giraffes* to mean things other than what they actually mean?

      * giraffes = words

      DailyKos: Come for the pooties, stay for the pie fight.

      by dconrad on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:11:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think comparing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snackdoodle

    atheists to gays, blacks, and women is any where near a correct analagy. But taht's just me, and I don't let things like my religious beliefs, race, or sexuality define who I am. I know, I'm a bit wierd, but none of those things really matter to me, they're just distractions.

    Seize Every day, giving no thought for tommorrow-Horace

    by ArkDem14 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:19:45 PM PST

  •  Con Law (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rieux, snafubar, arodb

    I was in Con Law when the Elk Grove case was decided and I distinctly remember my prof. being annoyed with the court for punting on the standing issue.  

    The link in your earlier diary to the complaint doesn't seem to work, but I'm definitely eager to read it.  

    Great work shedding some light on the story.  Much appreciated.  

  •  Obama: who cares when you're "muttering" an oath? (5+ / 0-)

    I -- I mean the president elect -- was very clear about this kind of thing long ago:

    It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God'; I didn't. -- The Audacity of Hope, p221

    In other words, I've been appeasing religious adults about this since I was a child - and I never even had to cross my fingers.

    Atheists take concepts like like "pledge" and "oath" and "god" way too seriously.  

  •  Hmm. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheCid

    I certainly sympathize with Newdow. I'm agnostic and believe very strongly in church-state separation. I agreed with him on the Pledge case, as the 1950s revision of it was a clear constitutional violation. I also think decisions like Zelman (school vouchers upheld 5-4, earlier this decade) were and are clearly wrong.

    But I don't think this is the right case to pursue at this time. I think the merits are hardly clear; the Chief Justice is choosing, with Obama's consent, to add those words and Obama is choosing to repeat them. On the surface it seems to me like a personal religious expression in the public square, rather than an imposition of religion. I don't exactly see it as coercive either, as no one is expected to join in (unlike the Pledge or prayer in school). I haven't thought everything through, but it doesn't really seem like a big problem to me.

    Besides, what if Newdow won? Can you imagine the backlash? I'd much rather see the separationist movement concentrate on more important things, such as making sure "intelligent design" stays a long way away from our public schools and making sure kids aren't being coerced into praying in public school.

    •  Actually, it would not change the drama... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demena, NMLib, stillwaters, TheCid

      of the innauguaration.

      The CJ would recite the actual 35 word oath, stoping at ....of the United States.  Obama would repeat, and like the last 14 or so presidents, append, "So Help Me God."

      If noticed, it will be seen as a return to the words of the constitution by the CJ, and a good start to his presidency.

      •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb, TheCid

        If noticed, it will be seen as a return to the words of the constitution by the CJ, and a good start to his presidency.

        I don't understand why on earth you think it would be seen as a good thing. It would start all the usual complaints about people taking God out of the public square. Frankly, in 90% of the country, it would be seen as an attack on religion, and it would provoke all sorts of anti-atheist hostility. Most people just don't think the way we do about these issues!

        •  Good. Let the loonies act loony (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stillwaters

          It just alienates the saner ones of them. Look at demographics- roughly 1/3 of the "young adult" (age range depending on what poll you're looking at, something like 18-35 or so) is atheist, roughly 2/3 are religious- but about half of those religious people are opposed to the bible-thumping sort. This happens to dovetail quite nicely with the youth vote from the last election.

          The crazier the wingnuts get the less the moderates will want to associate with them. When the wingnuts are sitting there and reverse-Overtoning themselves by claiming that EVIL ATHEISTS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY AMERICA AND MAKE US ALL WORSHIP SATAN!!!!111 secularism ends up looking like the moderate position.

          •  1/3 of young adults are atheists? (0+ / 0-)

            Stats, please.

            •  Bah, I've seen so many of these surveys (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rieux, Pluto, gtghawaii

              that it'll be hard to find the one that had that particular nugget of information (though note that most of these surveys use "no religion" or "unaffiliated" rather than "atheist", the practical relevance towards secularism is minimal).

              http://religions.pewforum.org/
              Comparisons -> demographics -> age distribution -> unaffiliated has some information, but it's in the opposite direction and I don't feel like re-calculating the math on it.

              There's this from Gallup which has lower numbers but is also a couple of years old (and self-identification as non-religious is on a fairly large upward trend right now).
              http://media.gallup.com/...

              Similarly, this from Gallup:
              http://media.gallup.com/...

              Lower numbers, but also from 2006. (And that doesn't include people who never had a religion to "move away" from!)

              There's this pdf from CUNY which says, among other things:
              "In 1990, ninety percent of the adult population identified with one or another religion
              group. In 2001, such identification has dropped to eighty-one percent." (You can probably work out the math on this with a certain error margin given that there's also the faith-switching numbers up above, but that's messy.)
              The same survey has 35% of those with no religion being aged 18-29; and again, this is the other way around so you'd have to do a fair bit of math given the population numbers as a whole to figure this out.

              Harris here has 19% of those 18-24 as not belonging to a religion, 16% of those 25-29, 16% of those 30-39.

              Amusingly, this Harris poll has 11% of self-identified atheists and agnostics describing themselves as "religious", so once you throw that into the mix the whole thing becomes even more difficult to figure out.

              AHA! Finally found the one that I must have seen before.
              This Harris poll, table 6, has 36% of (18-31) as not religious and 34% of (32-43) as not religious.

              That's not the poll I saw before, but I doubt I could find the exact same one given that I saw it in print- the one I saw split it up by age as the first group, then asked about religious/not religious, then asked a question to the religious group which boiled down to secularism.

        •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

          I don't understand why on earth you think it would be seen as a good thing. It would start all the usual complaints about people taking God out of the public square.

          Good.  it is about time people were told it does not belong there.

          Frankly, in 90% of the country, it would be seen as an attack on religion, and it would provoke all sorts of anti-atheist hostility. Most people just don't think the way we do about these issues!

          And, as usual, "most people" are wrong.

          It is only by putting "most people" in their place that progress is made.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 06:50:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Would that be Judge Reggie B. Walton (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MJB

    famed for presiding over the trial of Scooter Libby?

    •  that's the man.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmafarmer, stillwaters

      and an interested guy it seems, even though nominated by G.H.W. Bush.

      He could just do the right thing.  

      •  Well, he didn't mind throwing a slam at W (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb

        in the Libby case when the WH's Fielding tried to argue the sentence was excessive:

        "Although it is certainly the President's prerogative to justify the exercise of his constitutional commutation power in whatever manner he chooses (or even decline to provide a reason for his actions altogether), the Court notes that the term of incarceration imposed in this case was determined after a careful consideration of each of the requisite statutory factors...and was consistent with the bottom end of the applicable sentencing range as properly calculated under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
        ...
        Indeed, only recently the President's Attorney General called for the passage of legislation to "restore the binding nature of the sentencing guidelines so that the bottom of the recommended sentencing range would be a minimum for judges, not merely a suggestion," ...a stance that is fully consonant with the policies of this Administration as a whole.  In light of these considerations, and given the indisputable importance of "provid[ing] certainty and fairness in sentencing...[and] avoid[ing] unwarranted sentencing disparities," it is fair to say that the Court is somewhat perplexed as to how its sentence could accurately be characterized as "excessive."

      •  Okay... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb

        He could just do the right thing.

        I'll take that bet. Do I have to give you odds?

        [Wince.]

  •  It starts slowly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eloise, TFinSF

    Driving to work this morning, listening to NPR, there was a piece about the origins of the Presidential oath. It ended with discussion that there is no record of when the unofficial "So help me God" became common.

    Of course, leading up to that, was information about how the actual content of the oath was crafted.

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    And the information that it is spelled out precisely in the Constitution.

    At least, so sayeth "Marvin Pinkert, executive director of the National Archives Experience"

    http://www.npr.org/...

    •  from wikipedia....... (4+ / 0-)

      "So help me God"
      It is uncertain how many Presidents used a Bible or added the words "So help me God" at the end of the oath, as neither is required by law; unlike many other federal oaths which do include the phrase "So help me God."[1] There is currently debate as to whether or not George Washington, the first president, added the phrase to his acceptance of the oath. All contemporary sources fail to mention Washington as adding a religious codicil to his acceptance.

      It is important not to conflate two forms of administering, and taking, the oath of office. The first, now in disuse, is that the administrator, usually the Chief Justice, articulated the constitutional oath, requesting an affirmation, as in, "Do you George Washington solemnly swear....." At which point a response of "I do" or "I swear" completes the oath. It is reasonable to believe that this was the common procedure at least until the swearing in of Chester A. Arthur in 1881, where the New York Times article [2] reports he responded to the question of accepting the oath with the words, "I will, so help me God."

      It is the second, and current form of administration, where both the Chief Justice and the President articulate the oath, that appending "So Help Me God" is arguably a breach of the constitutional instructions. This is the contention of a Federal law suit filed in the District of Columbia by Michael Newdow on December 30, 2008. In this suit a distinction is made between the words spoken by the administrator, which must conform to the exact 35 words of the constitution, and the President, who has a right to add a personal prayer, such as "So Help Me God."

      The earliest known source indicating Washington added "So help me God" to his acceptance, not to the oath, is attributed to Washington Irving, aged six at the time of the inauguration, and first appears 65 years after the event.[3] Even if Irving's report is accurate, it would not by logic, law or intent alter the actual words of the oath, being more accurately described as a personal prayer by the President after completing the oath of office.

      The only contemporary account that repeats the oath in full, a report from the French consul, Comte de Moustier, states only the constitutional oath.[4], without reference to Washington's adding "So Help Me God to his acceptance.

  •  Now you will be forced to believe... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cartwrightdale, Inland

    because someone else uttered a prayer out loud.  No choice about it, dear atheists, once a prayer is uttered from a public podium your right to not believe is completely revoked.

    Gotta idea, since there is a schedule and all, pay no attention during the droning pointless prayer, invocation, benediction thingy and then tune back in to the speechifying once all that toxic, hateful, radioactive God Talk is over.

    Or demand equal time to wave banners saying God Can't Hear You or something so you can make absolutely sure those of us who believe know exactly where you stand.

    Atheists believe they are right, but they can't prove it.

    •  Burden of proof doesnt lay with the athiests (8+ / 0-)
    •  Logic dictates that God can neither be proven... (6+ / 0-)

      nor  disproven.

      However, the same thing is true with Zingbutu, a God I made up just now.

      Isn't it safer to just worship Zingbutu? What if you're wrong? You don't want to end up in Zingbutu hell.

      Plus how can you think anything is right or wrong without the merciful, benevolent presence of Zingbutu?

      Of course, this is ridiculous. But these ridiculous arguments are the best Christians have to offer.

    •  Your concern (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      todadikes, Demena, tronman5000

      for the constitutional rights of your neighbors is overwhelming.

    •  You've got quite an axe to grind there, Paul (6+ / 0-)

      Bunyan.

      Look - it's not that the atheists think they are right, that's not it at all. What we object to is that if indeed this country was founded to protect the free will of it's citizens, I would like some Christian to explain to us all where exactly my free will can come out to play if I am forced to accept "G"od's providence and ultimate authority over everything.

      Your comment,

      "Atheists believe they are right, but they can't prove it"

      is the most obnoxious thing I've ever heard. You could just as easily say,

      "All believers in any religion are surely convinced that they are right, but they can't prove it. The difference is that believers don't care they can't prove it and continue to act like they somehow have. "

      Now kiss my ass and go back home, dear.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 10:05:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rude, crude and demeaning. (0+ / 0-)

      No wonder I am an atheist (of sorts).

      You are actually the problem that Nedow is trying to address.  

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 06:58:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Those of us of a certain age... (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostieb, Pluto, NonnyO, arodb, BYw, stillwaters, rini6

    I well remember learning the Pledge of Allegiance when I started first grade.  (There was no kindergarten in those days in that particular school district.)  The Pledge did not have "under God" in it in those days.  It changed the following year.

    I also remember well when we stopped praying in school.  I was in 9th or 10th grade.  My parents were glad of it, too, despite our being churched.

    The one thing that I still remember is how there are three versions of the Lord's Prayer, so it was a bit of a disjointed exercise.  The Roman Catholics didn't do the final "forever", so they did the "Amen" before the rest of us.  We Presbyterians said "debts" instead of "trespasses".  The Jews were silent and I don't blame them.

  •  My beinga flavour of atheist doesn't matter, (11+ / 0-)

    I just don't think that someone's belief in a metaphysical being or presence belongs in official government business.

    If Obama wants to say it on his own, great.  But, making it a formal part of the oath - any oath related to government functions in the USA - is no more justified than appending a plea for Cthulu's forgiveness, IMHO.

    Belief in God/god/god(s)/unnameable/FSM/etc. is a personal subject, not a formal one to be promoted explicitly through government functions, I believe.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:59:25 PM PST

    •  and there you have it! (8+ / 0-)

      "I just don't think that someone's belief in a metaphysical being or presence belongs in official government business."

      Religious nations and holy wars are bad for your health.

      Evolve Yourself. (evolve from the Latin evolvere: to unwrap)

      by denig on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:18:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They would say (0+ / 0-)

      I just don't think that someone's belief in a metaphysical being or presence belongs in official government business.

      That government has no business in altruistic beliefs. It is not the mission of government to provide for people who have made bad decisions.

      Dare I disturb your beliefs? Yes, yes I do!

      by Void Indigo on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:45:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guess that I'd offer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rieux, melpomene1

        the Preamble to the Constitution sets a tone which seems to imply otherwise.

        Otherwise, why are we governing this union?

        The point seems completely aside from promoting specific religious beliefs, which are left as personal freedoms to enjoy (or not) for the folks being governed, so long as the practice of such doesn't violate the rights of others.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:10:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  To see that (0+ / 0-)

        everyone is fed, healthy and educated is not simply 'altruistic'.  It makes society stronger, less worrisome and more 'profitable'.

        You think people who made bad decisions should sue the "magic eightball"?

        Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

        by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:02:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Amen!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, Wolf Of Aquarius

    ????

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 05:59:59 PM PST

  •  When I Rec'd this, a lightning bolt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, NonnyO, arodb, stillwaters

    came through my window and toasted my iPhone!!  ;-)

    Seriously though... nicely done! The media has done a remarkable job of keeping this quiet. I guess so as not to rouse the rabble.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:25:17 PM PST

  •  If Obama believes in god, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger1968

    I want him to fucking swear by that god.  It's his oath, let him swear by whatever he finds sacred.  

    I Will Do Whatever It Takes To Restore Your Faith In My Excuses

    by Inland on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:32:26 PM PST

  •  This is on the Yahoo home page, now. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MJB

    "Go well through life"-Me (As far as I know)

    by MTmofo on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:33:33 PM PST

  •  lame lame lame (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Boisepoet, badger1968

    Atheism should not be about petty lawsuits over trivial phrases.

    Atheists should focus on producing quality critiques of religion as well as secular ethical norms. Also, more atheists need to "come out of the closet" so people understand atheists aren't a bunch of embittered Brits: we need an image makeover

    Atheism, unlike civil rights, is not a matter for the courts. This is cultural.

    •  Courts are the proding that gets attention... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demena

      if nothing else, this will educate the public on what the founders wrote in the constitution.

      But read my update.....they may not learn anything.

      •  Bad attention is not good attention n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  NO attention is even worse. (0+ / 0-)

          During the thousands of years we have been shat on, marginalized, and dehumanized, staying docile and silent has done us no good at all. It has merely led to our heroes--Socrates, Tom Paine, Robert Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton--being brutalized and/or forgotten.

          Within the past 10-15 years, the number of atheists (as well as the number of non-religious people) in the United States has grown precipitously. Meanwhile, religion is in full-blown demographic retreat all over the industrialized world. Not incidentally, the power of the religion lobby is currently waning.

          The cries of concern trolls notwithstanding, outspoken atheists aren't actually hurting the cause. We just have a long way to go in order to vindicate nonbelievers' constitutional (and indeed human) rights.

    •  Atheist rights ARE civil rights. (7+ / 0-)

      Atheists' status as full citizens of the United States is a civil rights issue, thank you very much.

      •  I agree, but not sure where the infringement (0+ / 0-)

        is in this case. We are not being required to take a religious test or pledge to a god. Obama is the one taking the oath and wanting the phrase added.

        In this case IMO our offense at such nonsense is not usurping any other rights.

        "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

        by Boisepoet on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 08:16:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But (0+ / 0-)

          the Establishment Clause guarantees all Americans that our government (funded by our taxes--though that is not the central concern here) will not endorse or entangle itself with religion.

          In school prayer cases, frequently no one is "being required" to pray. Nonetheless, employee-led prayer in public schools is unconstitutional, and plaintiffs challenging such prayer need not prove coercion. This case is no different.

          In this case IMO our offense at such nonsense is not usurping any other rights.

          The Constitution guarantees us a right to a secular government. That right is routinely violated.

    •  Who decides what is petty? 30 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melpomene1

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:04:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's easy to believe. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    clyde

    It's hard to believe that the media is not covering this story, but other than a few blogs....heck...no one is writing about this except me....and those fifty chief legal officers of all of our fifty states.

    It's easy to believe.

    The shit is pouring down the streets. What smell does one need to concentrate on? All of it stinks and the flood gates are opened (by design).

    Which one to choose? Torture? CO2? War? Wages? Food? Clean Water? Lead? Even, though they are all connected, Shit requires a focus on the sphincter.

    "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

    by JugOPunch on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:39:23 PM PST

  •  Wish I could lay a bet on the God-squad on this. (0+ / 0-)
  •  i thought the invocation of god was personal (0+ / 0-)

    choice? one can refuse to include those words
    What I am suprized about is that the constitution does NOT say that the CJ must be the one administering the oath

  •  The presence of godfolk... (8+ / 0-)

    ...at political ceremonies is a leftover from the days of the Divine Right of Kings.  Similarly, the use of a "sacred" document for making an oath creates a transfer of authority from the "heavenly" to the "secular" domains.

    Because the deity posited in most major religions is, as it were, an "ultimate authority," ceremonies marked by such symbolism are in fact registering the transfer of Ultimate Authority from a Deity to a Ruler Anointed By God.

    "God" is the ultimate "Unitary Executive."  If "God" does it, it's not illegal.

    When framed this way, it is obvious that religious trappings at political ceremonies in this country are in fact complete contradictions of our system of government, in which authority is derived from the Consent of the Governed....not delegated downward to God's Representative On Earth.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:49:46 PM PST

    •  Well said.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      clyde, frostieb, Pluto, jarbyus

      and this is why our founders, who also were knowledgeable about this did NOT have any reference to a deity being the one to sanctify a president.

      It was not God who was to be the ultimate authority, but the secular constitution, under temporary stewardship by a mortal, a president.

      Omission of Under God was no omission at all, but a profound assertion of principle, as you well described.

    •  Worse still, in my never humble but oft ignored (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in RI, WarrenS, NonnyO

      opinion is how the reliance on "G"od really tells the world that some of us (the religious ones) are so insecure and burdened with such an inferiority complex that they don't think we can handle it on our own.

      like the clause written into the Kentucky DHS that actually requires the legislature to openly admit that "G"od is required to help us catch terrorists.

      From the beginning of this crusade after 9/11, religious zealots and the Right Wing zombies who cater to them have demonstrated that they are cowards who thought our founding fathers just weren't good enough to get it right.

      They whine about the "Constitution in Exile" and "activist judges", and then Bin Laden comes to town and they just piss on the Constitution and the Geneva Convention altogether and wing it.

      The real cowards, the real traitors in this land, are those who are so obsessed with God and what they think "H"e wanted that they forgot to actually read any of the documents they think make this country so great.

      Because they forgot that for the United States to actually claim the higher moral ground, we actually had to be standing on it, not looking up to it merely claiming that as long as there was still someone below us that we were doing good enough.

      We were the greatest country on Earth, that is until we sold out the very things that were supposed to represent our greatness in the blind and abject fear that oil was more precious than character and integrity.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 09:48:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snafubar, melpomene1

        The real cowards, the real traitors in this land, are those who are so obsessed with God and what they think "H"e wanted that they forgot to actually read any of the documents they think make this country so great.

        These are also the same people who forgot to actually read the Bible or read it with blinders on.

        Wasn't the "good Samaritan" an atheist?

        Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

        by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:06:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Perhaps. It's unwise to ask an admitted atheist (0+ / 0-)

          about Biblical stories...I'm just not that well versed in them.

          :)

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:12:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was reading the SOS's brief! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theboz, Dave in RI, Demena, melpomene1

    It appears that at least 20 states put a religious test for office holders into their constitutions by requiring the prospective office to swear "so help me God" as part of their oath of office.

    •  They put it there, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tomtech, Dave in RI, melpomene1

      but they would never attempt to enforce it.  As we learn a law is only illegal if someone brings a case to overturn it.

      •  I know that one for a fact! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in RI, arodb, melpomene1

        It happened to me.

        Local officials denied me my rights until a lawyer presented them a potential suit claiming exactly what I had been claiming for 10 months.

        Since they caved, I can't get a judicial ruling requiring other municipalities to follow the rules and if I move they can change the rules back without fear.

        •  Yet, moot and standing... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dave in RI, Demena, NonnyO, melpomene1

          are powerful concepts, and they perfuse this case as well.   This is why an injunction is the only option, yet it requires a higher standard for approval.

          And when the damages are subtle, a low level endoctrination, showing harm is difficult.  

          Publicity of the facts of the constitutional issue, and how Newdows relief, enjoining only the CJ, would honor both sides of the religious part of the 1st amendment, would be a plus.

          But see my update.  AP and Yahoo are distorting the case, and no one will stop them. It will be read by millions who will have learned that Atheists are trying to prevent Obama from saying So help me God,
          which is not what the suit asks for.

  •  But I read on FreeRepublic... (8+ / 0-)

    ...that he's actually going to end it with "so help me Allah, SUCKERS!"

    "Don't hope for a stronger America. Vote for one." - John McCain. And I did!

    by cartwrightdale on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 06:53:22 PM PST

    •  That's your fault for reading anything at Freep. (0+ / 0-)

      Although we salute your efforts for daring to wade into shark infested water, Please make sure you wash off your keyboard before posting here further.

      George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

      by snafubar on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 09:40:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting. It seems that distinguishing snark (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        clyde, snafubar

        from non-snark is really hard in a religious debate. When someone says something really outrageous, you never know whether they might actually believe it.

        •  When the name "FreeRepublic" is mentioned, (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not really too picky about what is snark or not; I read enough over there (and RedState and HumanEvents and LGF) that I don't find any humor, sarcasm, or levity in anything said by them or about them.

          They are perversely blinded by their own delusions, and any suggestion that any of them could be regarded as reasonable people is a dangerous thought by itself.

          George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

          by snafubar on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:14:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Devil's advocate: (0+ / 0-)

    What if the president-elect says "so help me God" without being prompted by the Chief Justice?  Does that run afoul of church-state separation issues?

    As an agnostic with a strong belief in separation of church and state, I feel like this could be an effective compromise.

    There are people who say, "If music's that easy to write, I could do it." Of course they could, but they don't. - John Cage

    by RoscoeOfAlabama on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:03:03 PM PST

  •  You atheists aren't alone (7+ / 0-)

    As a pagan, I support everything you're doing. I don't want my personal religious beliefs to become law. That sets me apart from many of the religious fundamentalists in this country. Better to take all religion out of the government then have a government that tries to give special status to one religion or the other. Religious beliefs are a personal matter. Your belief or disbelief in magic supernatural forces are a private matter. They have no business being the foundations of public policy. A Christian invocation at a government event (I heard a bunch in the military) snubs every non-Christian there, be they atheist, pagan, buddhist, hindu, or anything else.

    Your fight is my fight. It's our fight.

    OEF/OIF vet
    I've been called a left-wing extremist because I absolutely oppose torture. I can live with that.

    by jabbausaf on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:14:13 PM PST

  •  I do not think there... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    is a media boycott on this case...it is just not a lot of interest until there is news...there would only be news if the case was actually decided the way the diarist hopes...then there will not be a blackout.

    There have been so many unsuccessful cases in this realm that it is not news at this time...

    Obama/Biden'08 Delivering Change he Promised

    by dvogel001 on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 07:58:39 PM PST

    •  Heard a discussion of this ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... on public radio a couple of days ago. Came up in a general discussion about the inauguration by an expert in the subject. He pointed out that the constitutionally prescribed presidential oath does not include "so help me God" and that the story about George Washington saying it is a myth. He also said that oaths for Senator and Congressman do include the phrase.  

  •  Please rewrite so people know in the 1st paragraph (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb
    what this is all about as I had to dig through the majority of the post before getting to the specifics of the case. Otherwise, it's a great article and well worth reading but I'm certain plenty of attention span deficit people stopped when they couldn't figure out what the article was about in the first few paragraphs.

    Krusty the Klown Brand Klassic Signatures

    by Carl Brutanananadilewski on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 08:04:37 PM PST

  •  my understanding of US church/state jurisprudence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb

    In the way of prologue... I have a JD though I am a Canadian and my time at Stanford was both brief and undistinguished.  That stated, its my understanding that the predominant theme in American jurisprudence re church and state is that the law tends to protect religion from the state, not the state from religion.  Indeed, America was founded by religious zealots seeking religious not intellectual freedom and its founding constitutional fathers were mostly Masons who woven Mason values into the constitution.  

    I did take a law and religion class at law school that compared [the year I took the class] American jurisprudence with Israeli jurisprudence.  

    As stated above the major theme with respect to US jurisprudence is the protection of religion against the state [including the state's attempt to impose a state religion on the people] but interestingly enough, Israeli jurisprudence  protects the state against religion.  Therefore, I would suggest that the preference between officially acknowledging a 'God' versus preferring to remain agnostic with respect to the issue would be decided in favour of theism.  Indeed, atheism can no more be a religion than not collecting stamps can be considered a hobby.  

    Comments?????  Do I have this analysis anywhere near correct???

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)

      That stated, its my understanding that the predominant theme in American jurisprudence re church and state is that the law tends to protect religion from the state, not the state from religion.

      It is supposed to do both.

      Indeed, America was founded by religious zealots seeking religious not intellectual freedom and its founding constitutional fathers were mostly Masons who woven Mason values into the constitution.

      I think that that is utter bullshit and any brief reading of their views indicated strongly otherwise.

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:13:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sorry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    charliehall, beastiemom

    but posts like this are the reason why Daily Kos is still a joke in many circles in the real world. For every great diary tackling a social issue, raising an important issue the media is missing, track a forgotten issue in the weekday paper, we have a rant so zealous I think I'm a on a freeper board.

    We get it. Atheist's are angry. They are not blacks. They are not women. They are not homosexuals. Unlike those groups they have made a choice to not believe in God. And yes it is a choice because no matter what you believe THERE IS NO PROOF. None. You either have faith in a higher being or you don't.

    Now come are arguments. "Only idiots think some magic man in the sky is making things better." "fairytale." etc. And somehow these people think their winning their argument? By making a completely close minded argument they are no different then the Christian and Muslim zealots who often proclaim the souls of those same people to hell.

    Should there be a separation between church and state? Of course. It's the only way to avoid persecution in a freely elected Republic where the majority rules. Do suits like this help the cause? Not even in the least. They don't promote a conversation and constructive argument to the people in the middle who could be swayed by it. These aren't bad people. They were just raised to believe in God and are proud of it. They are scared of people trying to take away their vales and lifestyles without listening to them. When they see a news story about some crusader in California who is trying to wipe God out of the presidential oath they rally on instinct to the other side instead of listening. That's not a battle you're going win. That's not the right way to win the bigger point.

    •  So sorry (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in RI, todadikes, arodb, gtghawaii

      that atheists expecting to be treated as full citizens of the United States crimps your style so horribly.

      Your disregard for basic constitutional rights--on the grounds that you haughtily deign our pursuit of our rights to interfere with your precious "conversation and constructive argument to the people in the middle"--is noted.

      Unfortunately, we don't intend to quit our fight for full membership in the American community just because you find it inconvenient. Our humblest apologies to Your Highness.

      •  full citizens? (0+ / 0-)

        Are you joking?

        When were you denied a right to vote?
        A right to a job?
        A right to freedom?
        A right to marry who you wish?
        A right to not pray in school?
        Oh wait the last one isn't the issue. If it would I would be on your side since there's a difference between compulsion and adherence.

        Once you have been denied one of those you can complain about your citizenship. You currently put up with an oath spoken every four years and words on a penny. Real struggle.

        You want pity. It's the internet. There's plenty of better places to find that. This site should be a place for ideas.

        •  How about full participation in public life... (6+ / 0-)

          without the need to dissemble.  A recent Pew Research study showed that of the 535 members of congress, all but about one percent have an identification with a monotheistic church.

          Based on surveys of those at the educational level of members of congress, the range of atheists are from 10 to 40%, but never is it as few as listed as non believers.

          Perhaps this is no big deal, and I agree there are about a thousand more serious problems we face as a country, but when some of the best and brightest can only have elected office by lying, you can look for the root cause.

          And when we find a specific example of not following the highest law of the land, the exact 35 words of the Presidential oath of office, it is a symbolic and representative issue that explains why this disdain for atheists is so great.

          This abrogation of the actual oath of office of the president is a defacto breach of the proscription of any religious test, which is another mainstay of our secular constitution.

          Sure, it's not Jim Crow, or a woman not being able to vote, but for those who want to base public service on honesty, it makes it impossible if we are atheists.

          That matters.

          •  Recc'd for this; (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arodb

            Perhaps this is no big deal, and I agree there are about a thousand more serious problems we face as a country, but when some of the best and brightest can only have elected office by lying, you can look for the root cause.

            This abrogation of the actual oath of office of the president is a defacto breach of the proscription of any religious test, which is another mainstay of our secular constitution

            And this is important.

            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

            by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:30:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (6+ / 0-)

          Ah, the Oppression Olympics approach. Gays haven't ever had to drink from separate water fountains, so they don't face "real" oppression. Yeah, that's a winning argument.

          Buddy, you just happen to be ignorant of the very real coercion, violence, and legal discrimination that individual atheists face every day. That ignorance wouldn't be a big problem if you weren't such a smug asshole about it.


          Let's start here: as Eugene Volokh has documented, atheist parents are routinely denied custody of their children in divorce disputes, because American courts are happy to declare openly that those parents cannot be trusted to provide the children with proper religious upbringing.

          Go ahead. Explain to me how that isn't oppression. Our Atheist Civil Rights 101 course can proceed from there.


          Hey--how about a guest professor?

          Discrimination against atheists, in the United States, and around the world, is very real. It doesn't look exactly like other forms of discrimination -- no form of discrimination looks exactly like any other -- but it is real.

          Here are just a few examples.

          According to a recent Gallup Poll, asking Americans who they'd be willing to vote for for President, atheists came in at the very bottom of the list: below blacks, below women, below Jews, below gays. Below every other marginalized group on the list. With less than half of Americans saying they'd vote for an atheist. Unless you live in a incredibly progressive district, being an out atheist will effectively kill any chances you have at a political career.

          Atheists in the military have been illegally proselytized at, berated, called a disgrace, denied promotion, had meetings broken up, and been threatened with charges... all by superior officers, and all because of their atheism.

          In her recent Senate campaign, Elizabeth Dole issued a series of campaign flyers and videos, centering on the fact that her opponent, Kay Hagan, had attended a fundraiser hosted by two atheist lobbyists... a campaign that openly referred to atheists as "vile," that treated the very existence of atheists as an abomination, and that used language about atheists that would have raised a tidal wave of shock and denunciation around the country if it had been aimed at any other religious group.

          And especially in small rural towns, anti-atheist bigotry can turn truly ugly. Being an out atheist means risking ostracism and worse. Out atheist teenagers have been kicked out of public school programs, and then kicked out of public school. Out atheists have been the targets of vandalism and death threats. Even believers can be targeted with anti- atheist ostracism, threats, and vandalism, if they're perceived as being atheists because of their stance on separation of church and state (such as the anti- intelligent- design activists in Dover, Pennsylvania).

          And I'm just talking about the U.S., where atheists are, at least in theory, guaranteed equal protection and freedom of non-religion under the 1st and 14th amendments. I'm not even talking about overt theocracies, where denying the existence of God will earn you a death sentence.

          This stuff is real. And there's a lot more. These examples have barely scratched the surface. We are pissed off for a reason. Please don't trivialize it.

          - Greta Christina, "How To Be An Ally With Atheists"

          Here's hoping that you'll decide that sneering at a ruthlessly despised minority, about whose experiences you know nothing, is poor form.

          •  So, your argument is (0+ / 0-)

            that you're oppressed, denied your Constitutional rights, and made a second-class citizen because some people don't like you.

            The people don't usually elect atheists. That sucks. I, for one, would like to see that kind of bigotry decrease. But to assert that you have some Constitutional right to be elected be people that don't like you is stupid.

            By the way, I'm a Pagan. There are fewer Pagans in Congress than atheists -- zero, last time I checked. But I in no way feel that I'm oppressed because someone's been invited to say a bloody prayer in public.

            •  I surmise (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dave in RI, Demena, gtghawaii

              that you missed the Eugene Volokh law review article I cited?  The numerous documented cases demonstrating that divorcing atheist parents are routinely denied custody of their children because of the parents' irreligiosity? That's, you know, a violation of our civil rights.

              And the denial of a secular government (the many Establishment Clause violations launched by the Bush 43 administration, as well as illegal additions to currency, the Pledge of Allegiance, and oaths of office that are of older vintage) is indeed a violation of nonbelievers' constitutional rights. The Constitution promises us a government free from actions "respecting an establishment of religion," but pious atheophobes have vitiated that guarantee. The dollar bills in my wallet declare that I am not part of the "we," the community that makes up the United States of America. That is an outrage, and it has a direct impact on atheists' standing as members of the American community.

              Finally, yes--the fact that more than half of the American people are utterly unwilling to vote for an atheist for President is a severe burden on atheists' rights. The Constitution declares that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States," but the bigotry of millions of Americans has rendered that provision worthless as well. (And certainly, Neo-Pagans--or indeed members of any religious minority treated with suspicion by large sectors of the voting populace--have every reason to be equally offended by similar findings regarding their standing with the public.) In this case there is no way to vindicate the right to be free from religious tests by lawsuit, but that hardly removes the offense of the predicament that despised minorities find themselves in.

              Indeed, how exactly do you expect atheists to react to the reality that we are, according to numerous polls, the most hated minority in the United States? Do you expect us to be happy about it? And do you really think that that status comes without consequences--in housing, employment, or (as noted) child custody?

              Your reduction of the case I have set forth to "you're oppressed, denied your Constitutional rights, and made a second-class citizen because some people don't like you" shows a severe lack of attention to the points I have made. Surely matters like these deserve more serious and attentive examination than you have, to date, seen fit to attempt.

              •  Does the Constitution say that? (0+ / 0-)

                Does the Constitution give anyone the right to custody of their child, or, does it prohibit a judge from deciding that a person should lose custody due to lacking religion?  If so, please quote the relevant sections.

                Does the Constitution promise us a government free from actions regarding the establishment of religion, or that "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion"?

                Has the whole of the American public recently been presented with an opportunity to vote for an atheist candidate for President?  Other research has shown that asking someone what they would do in a certain situation very rarely reveals what that person would actually do in that situation.  It is one thing for an American to say that they would never vote for a candidate who does not believe in god, but have we presented that opportunity to actually show what would happen?

                Atheists probably are the most hated minority in America, but does a case like this one advance the cause in any other direction?  Siding with up and atom, simply shoving the agenda down people's throats is not going to help anything.  Yes, there is a difference between fighting for rights and shoving it down people's throats.  I imagine Rosa Parks was not a very well respected woman at the time she refused to give up her seat, but the point is that it's attitudes that need to change; not the law, because the law is already on our side.  If we constantly attack people for being religious, their attitudes will never change.  Not because they're ignorant or incapable of rational thought, but because they're being attacked!  We would like it no better.

                I grant that it sucks to be an atheist (anyone else the atheist son of a minister?), as it does any person that is denied privileges and rights because he or she is lumped into some kind of culturally defined as inferior group.  But, I believe we all here agree that we need a government more clearly focused on the constitution.  That means that we need to act accordingly.  Where does the Constitution prohibit prayer at the Inauguration, or Obama adding, "So, help me god"?  Neither of those are laws by Congress that establish religion.  If there are laws that require these things, I did not know that, and by all means, the lawsuit is serving a purpose.  I am in favor of keeping the oath free from the "so help me god" clause, but the other part of the lawsuit is not winning hearts or minds, just making ideological pinpricks, which is what we despise about some religious people's actions.  Or at least I do.

                •  Where to begin? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  clyde

                  Does the Constitution give anyone the right to custody of their child, or, does it prohibit a judge from deciding that a person should lose custody due to lacking religion?  If so, please quote the relevant sections.

                  Are you serious? Do you honestly believe that it is constitutionally permissible for American courts to discriminate openly between litigants based on their religious beliefs?

                  You want a Constitutional cite? Then you appear to be the second commenter on this thread-let who hasn't bothered to read law professor Eugene Volokh's post (describing his lengthy law review article) on this topic. For the third time, here's Volokh:

                  [Discrimination against atheists in child custody determinations] violates the Free Speech Clause: Just as government discrimination against religious viewpoints is unconstitutional, see, e.g., Rosenberger v. Rector, so government discrimination against nonreligious viewpoints is unconstitutional. It violates the Establishment Clause: It coerces religious practice, either directly by ordering a parent to take the child to church, or indirectly by threatening the parent with a diminution in legal rights if he doesn't practice religion; the Court has rightly and unanimously taken the view that legal coercion of religious practice is unconstitutional (see both the majority and the dissent in Lee v. Weisman). It endorses religion (though the prohibition on endorsement is more controversial than the prohibition on coercion). And it discriminates based on religiosity. It may also violate the Free Exercise Clause, if (as I think is the case) the "free exercise of religion" includes the freedom not to have one's rights reduced because one exercises religion solitarily rather than in church, exercises religion less actively and passionately than some others, or has no religion at all. (The freedom of speech has been understood as including the freedom to choose what not to say as well as what to say; it seems to me the same applies to free exercise of religion.)

                  There is also the small matter of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, if you are sincerely in search of a constitutional cite.

                  I fervently hope that you don't actually believe that open judicial discrimination against nonbelievers is permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

                  Does the Constitution promise us a government free from actions regarding the establishment of religion, or that "Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion"?

                  And the difference between those two would be?

                  The list of federal precedents upholding citizens' constitutional right to a secular government is extremely long. That's what "the Establishment Clause" means. Again, are you honestly suggesting that religious establishment is constitutionally permissible? You cannot be serious.

                  Has the whole of the American public recently been presented with an opportunity to vote for an atheist candidate for President?

                  Yes. Mike Gravel is an atheist.

                  Other research has shown that asking someone what they would do in a certain situation very rarely reveals what that person would actually do in that situation.

                  Oh, how nice. Substantial majorities of the American public are happy to tell pollsters that they could never vote for an atheist. But maybe they're lying--perhaps even to themselves!

                  I take it all back. Those polls show no evidence of widespread antipathy toward atheists. <Rolls eyes>

                  Where does the Constitution prohibit prayer at the Inauguration, or Obama adding, "So, help me god"?  Neither of those are laws by Congress that establish religion.

                  Wow. You really know nothing about church-state separation.

                  Here's a hint: the Establishment Clause doesn't just apply to Congress. Nor does it merely apply to "laws." Has it occurred to you that matters like public-school prayer and Christmas displays in government buildings have been held unconstitutional, even though (hello?) they are not the result of "laws" passed by "Congress."

                  You badly need basic lessons in First Amendment law.

                  Yes, there is a difference between fighting for rights and shoving it down people's throats.

                  Indeed. And when despised minorities fight for their rights, the majorities who are stuffed with their own privilege and superiority always whine and cry that the minorities are "shoving it down our throats." That response just happens to be bullshit.

                  Michael Newdow is shoving nothing down anyone's throat, and you should be ashamed with yourself for suggesting otherwise. He is merely trying to remove a blatant establishment of religion from an even put on by the United States Government--an attempt that is nothing but "fighting for rights." Removing "so help me God" from Chief Justice Roberts' (not Obama's--please pay attention) recitation of the oath hurts no one. It violates no one's rights.

                  The ability of bigoted majorities to complain that their targets' humanity crimps their style is not actually worthy of concern.

                  I imagine Rosa Parks was not a very well respected woman at the time she refused to give up her seat,

                  Among the bigots in power? Of course she wasn't. She was shoving civil rights down their throat. Where were you to sneer at her?

                  but the point is that it's attitudes that need to change; not the law, because the law is already on our side.

                  Nice (though odd) to hear you say that. It sure appeared from the beginning of your comment that you thought the law offered atheists no protection against outrageous discrimination.

                  And of course, the only way to vindicate laws that are "on our side" is to take legal action, such as litigation. Michael Newdow is doing precisely what we need to do--and demanding that he cease doing so is no different from demanding that, in deference to the fragile feelings of the racists on her bus, Rosa Parks move to the back.

          •  A little note. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arodb

            My son is on a year long exchange program in the united states.  He is fifteen.  I have had no communication from him since his host family found out I was an atheist.  That is five months now.  Five months with not a word form my son except that he is not allowed and not allowed to be alone.

            These are supposed to be christian people for gods sake.  Well it is a pity they will never face him.

            Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

            by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:35:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Holy shit. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arodb

              That is awful. You have my heartfelt condolences.

              Have you attempted to contact law-enforcement authorities in the area? I can't imagine that it is legal for your son's host family to cut off any contact with you.

              •  Unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                arodb

                My ex agreed to conditions.  It isn't that they force a cut-off, that would be illegal but they arrange things so that it is difficult or impossible.  I am afeared that if I make an issue of this I will lose my son entirely.

                At least I know he will be back in not too long a time and he is smart enough that I should be able to work on deprogramming.

                Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 08:37:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm so sorry. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  arodb
                  •  Don't be. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    arodb

                    when he gets back I should have a month alone with him.  He will be dependent on me alone for everything.

                    The experience will do him good in the long run.  He is coming back early.  He knows I didn't want him to go at so early an age.  Maybe he realises some of the reasons why now.

                    I admit I was scared that the whole election scenario you had might have resulted in wide spread violence in the US.  That at least did not come to pass.  What has happened hurts but I can deal with it.

                    Thanks for your sympathy.

                    Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                    by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 08:54:32 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rieux

          When were you denied a right to vote?

          No.

          A right to a job?

          Yes.

          A right to freedom?

          Yes.

          A right to marry who you wish?

          Yes.

          A right to not pray in school?

          Yes.

          Oh wait the last one isn't the issue. If it would I would be on your side since there's a difference between compulsion and adherence.

          There are many forms compulsion.

          Once you have been denied one of those you can complain about your citizenship. You currently put up with an oath spoken every four years and words on a penny. Real struggle.

          So how do you stand on four out of five?

          You want pity. It's the internet. There's plenty of better places to find that. This site should be a place for ideas.

          it is.  Not closed ones.  Why are you here?

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:28:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  No actually I was born an atheist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux

      just like black is born black, a woman is born a woman, and a homosexual is born a homosexual.  Period.  An attempt was made to indoctrinate me into a religion, but it didn't take.

    •  Not just wrong, fucking wrong and evil. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      clyde, Rieux

      Unlike those groups they have made a choice to not believe in God.

      Bullshit I would be far better off if I believed in God and I actually have a desire to do so.  I am not capable o it anymore than a gay is capable as being straight. Oh, maybe most of both groups can pass but not I.

      Now come are arguments. "Only idiots think some magic man in the sky is making things better." "fairytale." etc. And somehow these people think their winning their argument? By making a completely close minded argument they are no different then the Christian and Muslim zealots who often proclaim the souls of those same people to hell.

      CLosed minds?  How arrogant and stupid.  If there were any proof of God then most atheists would follow.  I'm grasping at straws for believe all the time but never found any.  it is the so called religious that would jail or kill Jesus if he reappeared to today not the atheists.

      These aren't bad people. They were just raised to believe in God and are proud of it.

      No accounting for insanity. Some are not bad people, probably the majority but they ae untrustworthy enough and commit enough egregious behavior to warrant going on a watch list maybe.

      No one is trying to take their values and lifstyle away form them, I just don't see why other people should be forced to kow tow to it or why they are permitted to rewrite the constitution at whim.

      It is a battle that will be one eventually.

      If you do get single payer health care the biggest bulk of the bills is going to be treating mental disorders.

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:23:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a rabid atheist on this site who was once (7+ / 0-)

    quoted as one of the ten worst comments of the DailyKos 2006, I await my marching orders.

    Until then, I'm just going to keep my chin up.

    My father used to work with a guy who was constantly saying, "I'm praying for you, Matt" -

    Dad, who was an apostate from the Catholic church when he left home for college, never really swung for the fences as an overt and unapologetic atheist like his son, would always say to the guy, "Well, keep it up, because it seems to be working".

    Dad was a lot more diplomatic than I am.

    PS - my "ten worst" went something like this:

    "If the godly justice that these right wing assholes keep bragging about were really true, then George W Bush should be struck by lightning every time he opens his mouth"

    Thank you very much, I'll be here all my life.

    George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

    by snafubar on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 09:55:57 PM PST

    •  I'm more like your dad.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, snafubar, melpomene1

      I have a dear friend who is an evangelical, who when he says he will pray for me, I have nothing but affection for.

      He wants me to be with him in heaven.  What a kind thought.

      Personal friendship transcends differences such as this.

      •  if I had dear friends like that, too, they would (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Demena, arodb, melpomene1

        be dear friends.

        As it is, decorum and diplomacy have changed a lot in one generation, and the kind of pious clowns who cram Jesus down my throat haven't actually said they're praying for me, but have instead asked me to surrender to Jesus and repent or I will burn in Hell.

        When I suggest that they have a rudimentary failure to understand what "atheism" means, and that without a "G"od there is also no "S"atan, then they accuse me outright of being an agent of the "D"evil and things get very ugly in a big hurry.

        So, I have no hostility towards the kind of good-natured empathy that you describe; however, the experiences I have endured with people of faith have not been amongst those kinds of people.

        George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

        by snafubar on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 10:40:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, you may have described a generational change (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snafubar, melpomene1

          I was born in 1940, my friends are friends, that is what comes first.  

          But I know what you are talking about, and I wouldn't be able to handle that either.  One tennis "friend" was not as I described, responding when asked by me, "Yes, this is a christian country"

          I have never had much affection for him since, and I avoid talking to him.

          •  Sometimes that "I'm praying for you" thing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snafubar, arodb

            is meant an expression of sincerely wanting to help you; othertimes, it's a way of saying, "I'm better than you." And I've also seen it used as a way to stick one's nose into your business -- usually to gloat: "I'm praying for you -- that's why I'm asking you a lot of rude, personal questions that really upset you."

            •  If you've got about six hours, I can relate to yo (0+ / 0-)

              you what a one-hour conversation with my cousin was like. I was really ready to grab the 16 pound maul leaning up against the garage and chase her the fuck out of my yard -

              Imagine a conversation that starts like 'Gee, how come you keep to yourself so much?' and I give an honest answer like, "well I feel like the red=headed bastard stepchild of the family because I'm the only atheist"  - and all of the fears (I felt the family looked at me differently because I was the only non-devout practicing Catholic) were not only confirmed, but it turns out I didn't know how bad it was.

              She was smiling, and laughing inside in that "Well, i've got God on my side and you're spending eternity in Hell, and I'm only trying to help", and I remember her saying "well I just came here to tell you how much we love you. I didn't come here to be attacked"

              Oh - that was the moment. Attacked? She dares to come to my house, uninvited and unannounced, and not only is she disparaging and belittling the very foundations of everything I believe but calling me a fool and an idiot for doing it, all with that condescening smile on her face - and merely by defending my point of view she thinks I'm attacking her?

              I will not ever tolerate some self righteous pious asshole argue with me for 59 rounds and then dare to tell me I've stepped over the line becaue I had the gall to go to 60. She didn't seem so timid and intimidated one step shy, but now I'm the one who's crossed the line?

              It was truly evil. One of the top five moments in my life when I really felt like I was going to have a stroke or spend the rest of my life in prison. And after openly confessing that I had had enough, I asked her to leave, and she just got more calm, and more alooof and smiled and said, in that sad, pathetic, condescending manner, "Well, I just came here to tell you we all love you" ("We" all, being the family that lives two miles from here and has not seen me in four  years - this is the town where I had to drive 700 miles one way six times a year to visit on every holiday for the last 23 years).

              So I don't know exactly what it was, but what it was was something I could not tolerate.

              She actually pointed to the sun in the July sky and said, "do you really think scientists know why the sun stays up in the sky? Do you really think we come from monkeys?" - keep in mind, although she only finished high school (her Catholic father declared that women were to go serve their husbands and did not go to college) she has two brothers who both have PhD degrees in engineering - one of whom works for Argonne Nat. Lab.

              now - if I am to be judged as the one who is outside the lines in that argument, I don't even want to talk to whoever would think that.

              And there it is - my father's dead, my mother's estranged, and the only 'family' that I know lives two miles away and laughs at me like I'm an idiot because I believe that the Earth orbits the sun and not vice-versa.

              I'm trying to compose all my thoughts into some kind of coherent compilation, because this shit just goes on and on and on.

              And so it goes (apologies to Kurt Vonnegut)

              George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

              by snafubar on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 11:00:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sarah Palin really set off some flares for me (0+ / 0-)

            because she is closer to the kind of over-joyous outright pride and contempt that I'm faced with; people who throw a punch at me and then claim they're being attacked when I try to block them.

            I am starting to reach that age where I'm understanding the wisdom of my elders; wisdom that i scoffed at when I wasn't so old and wise myself.

            "By the time a man is old enough to realize that his father was probably right, he will have a son who thinks he isn't"

            I have no children, but i see it in the generations beneath me, and I'm as disappointed and indignant as my elders were when I was that cocky.

            But I do think as generations go, things escalate.

            George Orwell is banging on the lid of his coffin and screaming, "1984 was a cautionary tale, you dolts, not a motivational speech!"

            by snafubar on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 11:08:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  If Obama wants to say "so help me God" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demena, arodb, Futuristic Dreamer

    ...he should be allowed to. But he should do it of his own volition, after the oath is given with the wording in the Constitution. Just take the "so help me God" part out of the oath, and have Obama say "I do, so help me God." Then it's just an expression of his own personal religiosity, which is fine, plus it sounds much more genuine that way. Framed in that way, I think it could be a solution that would be satisfactory to believers and non-believers alike.

    Unrepentant Francophile.

    by AtomikNY on Wed Jan 14, 2009 at 10:27:57 PM PST

  •  Excellent thorough diary. I am completely (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demena

    intrigued by this case now.

  •  What a waste of time (0+ / 0-)

    Newdow is just annoying at this point.

    •  Indeed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      todadikes, antimony

      Marginalized minorities fighting for their civil rights often seem "annoying" to people who have no interest in those minorities' civil rights.

      •  No... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sam storm, charliehall

        It's annoying because he must be going through immense calculated leaps in logic to think that if the Chief Justice of the United States says "so help me God" that the country is forever blurring the distinction between Church and State, and I'll give you, there are fights to pick, this is NOT one of them.  

        •  Wrong. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          clyde, arodb

          Forty years ago I was conscripted.

          When we all arrived at boot camp they said "People with dietary restrictions stand over there".  The other group was marched off.   then they marched off the Catholics who could not eat meat of friday.  Then they marched off people who were Halal or Kosher.

          As they all marched of it was finally noticed I was standing there.  I was asked WTF (literally) I was doing still there.  I told them I was a vegetarian, they asked what religion required me to be a vegetarian, I replied 'none'.  I should have said I was Bhuddist.  Would have made me a lot better off in the long run.

          As it was I was charged with causing a disturbance and force fed because it "was not in my interest to get through Boot Camp as a vegetarian" and it was too much trouble to arrange a special diet.

          If you have ever been held down and had food stuffed down your throat by something resembling a dildo you would not think that is not a battle to fight - unless you consider atheist beliefs to be meaningless.

          The rational for all this that came out and was accepted by a military tribunal was because I had no religious conviction about it it was okay to force feed me food that made me very sick due to the too rapid change in diet.

          I was effectively raped three times a day because of my religious convictions until I gave up.  Picked for hazardous duty because I didn't have a soul to save.

          Damn you for saying this is not a fight to pick.

          Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:55:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Read this article about another soldier... (0+ / 0-)

            who had a different, but similar experience, that radicalized him.   It was at a congratulatory event for Philip Paulson that I met Mike Newdow.

            Thanks for your contribution to this discussion.

            •  I never got to a foxhole (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              arodb

              I refused to go except as a medic.  Although this was a permitted position as a person with religious convictions I had to go through a military tribunal because I was an atheist.  I would not have won if it were not for the "peer pressure" failing and virtually everyone in my platoon speaking up for me.  Losing would have likely resulted in my death.

              In the end I was discharged (honorably) because the army could not afford the words of witnesses to get into the press.

              Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 08:47:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          clyde, arodb

          The Chief Justice is importing religion into a government ceremony, adulturating a secular oath that is specifically set out in the Constitution. That is a blatant establishment of religion. (Your "the country is forever blurring the distinction between Church and State" is an absurd strawman.)

          An agent of our government has no business declaiming on God. That's simple Establishment Clause, and the ceremony, as planned, violates it.

          I'll give you, there are fights to pick, this is NOT one of them.

          So our Constitutional rights are conditioned on whether you deign to consider them worth vindicating?

    •  So are you. 30 (0+ / 0-)

      Best Wishes, Demena Economic Left/Right: -8.38
 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 07:41:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We keep electing christians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demena, arodb

    It is instructive to consider what an inauguration of someone with other beliefs would look like. Then you can begin to separate what elements are personal and related to the person assuming the office and what elements are official and thus should generally be neutral.

    Newdow clearly seems to have grasped the distinction as he isn't worried about what Obama wants to add at the end or that he wants to swear on a bible. His only concern with respect to that aspect is what the chief justice, in his role representing the country is doing.

    I find people who want to scrub ever last vestige of a persons faith from public life just as offensive as those who insert it needlessly every chance they get.

  •  This is really silly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    EntrWriter, DeLLBerto

    and makes progressives look anti-religion.

    Fight a matter that matters, like what the fundies have been doing at the Air Force Academy.

  •  Oh fuck Newdow (0+ / 0-)

    He's been making us atheists look bad for decades. The man doesn't care about his "cause", it's about glory and headlines for him. Fuck him.

    I'm writing in Lizard People on my next ballot.

    by George Hier on Thu Jan 15, 2009 at 06:25:28 AM PST

  •  I may be in the minority (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeLLBerto

    But this lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money for goodness sakes.

  •  My only question is (0+ / 0-)

    so what is adding "so help me God" supposed to do?  
    It doesn't change anything.
    It doesn't reduce the number of foreclosures.
    It will not relieve the suffering of the impoverished.
    And it won't make this country more free.
    If it doesn't serve freedom and protect the Constitution, it should not be done.

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