Thursday, January 20, 2005

the hypocrisy of Michael Newdow

Let's start this article off with props given where props are due: to Chief Justice Rehnquist and Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who put the final nail in the coffin on atheist Michael Newdow's suit seeking an injunction on Christian prayers at today's inaugural.

And then, let's get to the point of the article: Mr. Newdow sought to ban prayer from today's festivites on the basis that said prayers MIGHT be Christian in nature, which would serve to make him feel like an "outsider". (For more, read my prior post) First of all, from a logical standpoint Mr. Newdow should not have been seeking to ban "Christian" prayers, but rather ANY prayer that calls for reflection or homage paid to a supreme being--after all, an "atheist" does not deny the divinity of Jesus so much as he/she denies the existence of ANY divine being. Granted, taking such a step might have made Newdow's argument more difficult to make (he was charging that "Christian" prayers at such an event serve to "establish" (my word, not his) Chrisitianity as the de facto religion of the country--which would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment), but at least it would have been a logical suit, very similar to his earlier quest to take "Under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

And applying this "logic" to the next step: since his real beef is with a public acknowledgement of God, why is Newdow going after the POSSIBLE inclusion of Godspeak in the prayers when there is a GUARANTEED mention of a Supreme being in the major events of the day. After all the fanfare and celebration is completed, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will head to the West Portico of the Capitol and recite their Oath of Office. The Vice President's Oath culminates in the words "So Help Me God". Why isn't this Oath the object of Newdow's complaint? And while we're at it, the Oaths of Offices of every U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Supreme Court Justice and all military members include the words "so help me God"--where is the outrage over that? (Strangely enough, the President's oath does not mention God--I wonder why that is?)

But more to the point: Newdow has bought a ticket to the events of this day, KNOWING that the image of a Supreme being will be invoked--but he's using his presence at the inauguration as his "special weapon" in his suit against what MIGHT happen during the prayers. It doesn't make sense. . .

...but then again, in my opinion the 9th Circuit's decision on the Pledge was nonsense. . .

. . .but I digress. Fortunately, for other entirely legalese reasons the suit filed by Newdow was rejected, although he will have his day in court for the hearing of the full complaint (the rejections were just dealing with his sought-after injunction). I just wish I felt more comfortable with legalese meeting the standards of "common sense". I will definitely keep an eye on this one as it goes throught the judicial motions. . .


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