Archive for Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Atheist pledges to keep fighting government

March 14, 2007

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Seeing the phrase "In God We Trust" on his money and knowing schoolchildren say "one nation under God" has Mike Newdow singing the "Pledge of Allegiance Blues."

Strumming a guitar in front of about 50 people Tuesday night at Kansas University, the man who mounted a Supreme Court challenge against the Pledge of Allegiance explained in song and lecture how he believes religion has encroached on government.

"It's called religious freedom," goes one line in Newdow's song. "As long as it's God you choose."

Newdow lost a case before the Supreme Court on a technicality in 2004, a lawsuit in which he asserted that having public schoolchildren recite "under God" in the pledge infringed on the separation of church and state.

He's trying to bring that case back before the Supreme Court, along with another case that would challenge the constitutionality of having "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency.

"Everyone knows it's religious," Newdow said. "Why did everyone get bent out of shape when it went to the Supreme Court? Because it's religious."

Both those cases are held up in appeals courts, although Newdow isn't optimistic they'll find their way to the Supreme Court.

Newdow raised the issue Tuesday of whether the architects of the Constitution ever wanted religion and government to mix, as he said supporters of blending church and state sometimes claim.

His main point: The first law that Congress passed was the 1789 Oath Act, which had public officials take an oath of office that did not include any reference to God.

"So when people say they wanted God in government, (Congress) took it out," he said.

Newdow went on to claim that George Washington never added the phrase "so help me God" in his oath of presidency in 1789, despite the common thought that he did.

Newdow said no record of Washington saying the phrase came up until 1854 when essayist Washington Irving claimed the utterance.

Newdow's speech was sponsored by KU's Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics.

An ordained minister of the First Amendmist Church of True Science, a church that denies the existence of God, Newdow said he isn't trying to get people to abandon their religion.

"This has nothing to do with belief in God," he said. "It has to do with a belief in equality."

Comments

whistlestop75 8 years, 3 months ago

50 people? Is that the total number of KU's Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics. Wow...I guess this is not really a hot topic for conservatives/moderates/and liberals alike. There is hope for this country afterall.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 3 months ago

Maybe it was the guitar strumming that kept them away...

Uh...church? Can it technically be called a church if it's not a religion?

allateup 8 years, 3 months ago

whistlestop75.....my exact thoughts.....50 people????? ROFL

whistlestop75 8 years, 3 months ago

I just think from the posts from the forum of yesterday's article announcing his speech, there would have been more agnostic and atheist people there to listen to his speech...and continue the "cause"...guess they just don't need a leader...lol

allateup 8 years, 3 months ago

Agnostick....were you there yesterday???

Strontius 8 years, 3 months ago

If people are interested in knowing how SOMA functions, please go to the SOMA website and send me (Andrew Stangl) an email, and I'll be happy to answer any questions. SOMA works differently than most other groups I've encountered.

The attendance for this event was lower than we would have liked, but there's only so much you can do to let people know about an event like this. The campus sidewalks were covered in chalking advertisements, flyers were posted in all the dorms and and all over campus, press releases were sent out to other universities and professors, and some professors at KU even offered extra credit for attending. If I missed something that could have been done to increase turn-out, by all means let me know and I'll amend my advertising plan for next time.

Keep in mind that this week is also mid-terms week, which probably was the main cause for the low turn-out. Considering how many people expressed interest in attending the event, I was quite surprised more people didn't take advantage of opportunity. Oh well, more time for the rest of us to spend with Newdow.

I think it should also be known that atheist and agnostic people rarely have nor need "leaders" in the sense that most people understand the term. One of the byproducts of being such a hated minority in this country is needing to really know your stuff to defend yourself from the almost constant barrage of insult-laden questions and comments. This creates well-rounded individuals who are all capable of becoming great successes in the future, barring the inevitable prejudice one suffers for not believing.

whistlestop75 8 years, 3 months ago

Posted by Strontius (anonymous) on March 14, 2007 at 4:58 p.m. One of the byproducts of being such a hated minority in this country is needing to really know your stuff to defend yourself from the almost constant barrage of insult-laden questions and comments. This creates well-rounded individuals who are all capable of becoming great successes in the future, barring the inevitable prejudice one suffers for not believing.

So the real explaination of the low turn out is due to the higher intellect of the group of atheist and agnostics...very interesting. No one needs the encouragement of a man who not only talks the talk...but walks the walk...even if it was in the name of his daughter...I guess mid-terms affected the people of Lawrence that do not attend college...they must have all been working second shift. What a shame...

Strontius 8 years, 3 months ago

I'm not quite sure what you're getting at whistlestop. The lecture was meant primarily for the benefit of the university students, as their student fees payed his honorarium. Thus 99% of the advertising work went to getting students to attend the event.

Aside from a short event description on the day of event in the LJworld, there really wasn't an effort to advertise around town. Indeed I'm not sure what could have been done.

A common misconception about the original case Newdow took to court was that the pledge case was in the name of his daughter. This was simply not true, and three supreme court justices wrote a dissenting opinion to this effect. It's a shame you missed the lecture, because this and a whole lot of other rumors were cleared away that night.

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