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Washington – A group of atheists is suing to bar prayers and references to God during the swearing-in ceremony of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
Michael Newdow, along with 17 other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists, named Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., officials in charge of inaugural festivities, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery and pastor Rick Warren in their complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington Tuesday, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Roberts will administer the oath of office to Obama at the Jan. 20 event. Warren and Lowery are scheduled to deliver the invocation and benediction, respectively.
The lawsuit says the prayers are exclusionary, “showing absolute disrespect to plaintiffs and others of similar religious views … .”
Newdow and others also said the phrase “so help me God” should be stricken because it is not part of the oath as specified in the Constitution.
Bob Ritter, staff attorney for the American Humanist Association and counsel for the suit, told the Post the plaintiffs could win “as long as the judges uphold the Constitution.”
Newdow failed in similar lawsuits to remove prayer from President George Bush’s swearing-in ceremonies in 2001 and 2005.
United Press International
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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