Protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church
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Freethought Today

Vol. 21 No. 3 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
April 2004

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Newdow Wows Reporters, Changes Minds

Associated Press reporter Anne Gearan wrote:

"Newdow, a lawyer, made the rare and usually foolhardy decision to argue his own case before the court. He withstood the justices' vigorous questions, and based on their smiles and glances, it seemed he had won their respect."

Even opponent Kenneth Starr told media, "He was superb."

History buff and author Kenneth C. Davis' op-ed piece, "Jefferson, Madison, Newdow?" placed the litigant in heady company (The New York Times, March 26, 2004). Davis said Newdow's "quixotic crusade to rid the Pledge of Allegiance of the words 'under God' is a peculiarly American act of courage. And somewhere the spirits of Jefferson, Madison and Franklin may well be smiling."

Davis took Attorney General John Ashcroft and others to task for believing the myth that God is mentioned "in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, national anthem, on our coins and in the Gettysburg Address."

"The sight of one man standing up to challenge God and country is something that Madison, Jefferson and Franklin would cheer, and every American can celebrate," Davis wrote.

Even William Safire in a March 22 New York Times column saying "under God" should stay in the pledge, begrudgingly admitted that Newdow "is right." Safire added: "Those of us who believe in God don't need to inject our faith into a patriotic affirmation and coerce all schoolchildren into going along."

Linda Monk, a writer on the Constitution, proposed in "A Preamble Instead of a Pledge" (Washington Post, March 21) that a recitation of the Preamble of the Constitution be substituted for the Pledge. The preamble reads:

"We the people, of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Perhaps most fitting was an editorial in Newdow's city of residence, Sacramento, where it appears he is not being treated as a "nonprophet in his own land."

The Bee, on March 21, reversed a previous editorial and came out in support of Mike's lawsuit, calling it a "teachable moment." The Bee pointed out: "God is nowhere mentioned in the U.S. Constitution," and that it prohibits a religious test for public office.

"That's why the proper course is to return to the founders' 'E Pluribus Unum' tradition--acknowledging that to create one nation, we have to accept that people of many backgrounds have differing beliefs. And that means resisting the temptation to impose religious oaths--by rote repetition or not--on the nation's schoolchildren."

The editorial concluded: "The Supreme Court should help the nation return to those principles by returning the Pledge to its original form."

Then there are those inevitable hate e-mailers, such as "The McDonalds," who sent the Freedom From Religion Foundation a March 24 e-mail reading: "I WISH YOU WERE ALL DEAD starting with Michael Newdow . . . ."


April 2004 Excerpts