WASHINGTON — A California physician and attorney whose legal fight against the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance has drawn national attention has joined a new lawsuit seeking the removal of all references to God and religion from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.
Michael Newdow says references by public officials to God or religion are unconstitutional. He wants to remove the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office and block the invocation prayer from Pastor Rick Warren.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs include more than 20 other people and several atheist and humanist organizations, including the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The lawsuit states: “By placing ‘so help me God’ in its oaths and sponsoring prayers to God, government is lending its power to one side of perhaps the greatest religious controversy: God’s existence or non-existence.”
“Equality is important to me,” Newdow told The Washington Examiner. “We should show equal respects for all of our citizens, regardless of their race, gender or religion.”
Newdow also sued to remove religion from inaugurations in 2001 and 2005 but lost both cases.