01/13/05 — Too sensitive? Man files lawsuit seeking to ban inauguration prayer

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Too sensitive? Man files lawsuit seeking to ban inauguration prayer

If you keep a prayer list, add Dr. Michael Newdow’s name to it. If ever a man needed divine guidance, it is he.

Newdow, an atheist from Sacramento, Calif., is determined to wipe religion out of every facet of government.

His latest effort is a lawsuit asking the courts to prohibit prayer at the second inauguration of President George W. Bush on Jan. 20. A hearing on the suit was scheduled for today.

This is the same Michael Newdow who lost a similar suit four years ago as Inauguration Day was approaching for Bush the first time. And the same one who sued to have “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance as it is said in the schools.

The courts rejected the latter suit because, while Newdow sued on behalf of his daughter, it turned out that he is not the person responsible for her. She is being raised by her mother, Newdow’s ex-wife. Incidentally, mother and daughter opposed the suit.

In his latest suit, Newdow says that praying at an inauguration violates the First Amendment. That amendment prohibits Congress from establishing an official religion. Like many of his fellow wrongheaded busybodies, Newdow interprets it to mean that the framers of the Constitution meant to ban all acts of a religious nature from any government function.

That is patently absurd, since there were prayers at the inaugurations of all of the framers who went on to become president — George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison. If these men had intended for prayer to be prohibited at inaugurations, there would have been no prayer at theirs.

Furthermore, they allowed prayer at many other government functions, such as the opening of congressional terms and federal courts.

Certainly the government should try not to unduly offend any of its citizens. And it is true that an atheist’s citizenship is just as valid as that of a pious person. Still, it is difficult to understand what motivates Newdow. Can he really be offended if a preacher appeals publicly for divine direction and protection of the country and its leaders? If so, the poor fellow is so hypersensitive that life must be miserable for him.

Published in Editorials on January 13, 2005 10:42 AM