Good State/Church News

FFRF Member Wins Case

A lawsuit filed by Ray Ideus, who is a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its Spokane chapter, was settled successfully in early December, when the Spokane police department agreed police chaplains will no longer wear badges with crosses on them.

Ideus, a former Lutheran minister, is a volunteer at the police department.

The Spokane Spokesman Review (Dec. 9) editorialized: Removing the crosses from the Spokane police chaplain badges is the right move, because of the legal issues, but also because the symbol doesn’t reflect the full range of the work they do.”

Dawkins to Preach Atheism to US

British scientist, Oxford professor and author of the blockbuster The God Delusion is embarking on a lecture tour in the bible belt and Midwest in the wake of the presidential primary season, according to The [London] Times.

The America tour is being organized by a charitable foundation set up by Dawkins in the United States. The campaign will go global in 2009 to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his book, On the Origin of Species.

Dawkins is teaming up with a British advertising specialist to rebrand atheists in a less negative light.

Newdow Oral Arguments Heard

Indefagitable Michael Newdow argued two state/church lawsuits before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in early December.

The emergency room doctor and attorney won his new case against “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance at the California district level in 2005, which the school appealed. He was also defending his separate litigation against “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency, a case he lost at the district level.

On the 3-judge panel in Sacramento that heard his arguments was Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the appeals judges who famously ruled in Newdow’s favor in 2002.

That major victory declaring the religious pledge unconstitutional was scuttled when the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that Newdow, as a noncustodial parent, did not have standing to sue over the school ritual.

Newdow went back to court and filed a new lawsuit adding custodial parents. He and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, with parent plaintiffs, are also suing over the pledge in a New Hampshire case.

Judge Dorothy W. Nelson asked the lawyer for the school district: “How is pledging allegiance to a nation under God not a religious act?”

During the oral arguments. Judge Reinhardt noted that the “In God We Trust” motto “affects Mr. Newdow every day on his life. The government has no compelling interest to put a slogan on a dollar bill.”

Nativity Rejected in Manistique

The city council in Manistique, Mich., voted narrowly in late November to reject a request to place a nativity scene at the city’s Triangle Park.

The request was made by a pentecostal preacher and a minister at a Methodist church, who is president of the town’s ministerial association.

The insurance carrier for the city of Manistique advised: “to allow a nativity scene in city property could be opening a can of worms.” The carrier referred to groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose complaint this year about a crche in Menominee, Mich., had been widely publicized.

Poll: Butt Out, Churches

A Fox 5-Washington Times-Rasmussen Reports poll in late November found that less than 1 in 4 surveyed believe it’s appropriate to campaign at religious services, and 62% percent said it is not right. Another 70% said they don’t want their priest minister, rabbi or imam to “suggest” who to vote for.

Freedom From Religion Foundation