Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009


UPDATED FEB. 15, 3:05 AM EST, more updates later today

It's really pretty easy, it's almost free (a postage stamp, and maybe a fax call), and there's no obligation to make a court appearance if you do not wish to.

[You can learn about the background of this case by clicking HERE.]

To become one of the 1000 plaintiffs in Newdow v. Roberts, you need to submit a brief statement (declaration) that includes the following information such as:

(we provide a template below, but read this first...)

(1) Any national, state, or local atheist/humanist/freethought organizations of which you are a member, such as Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance Intl., American Atheists, Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, Dover Atheists ;-)...you get the idea.

(2) How you classify yourself (i.e., Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist-Humanist, etc.)

(3) How many (and which) inaugurations you have seen/heard in the past (including watching on television, etc.) Use your best recollection.

(4) Whether or not you saw/heard the 2009 Obama inauguration. If so, under what circumstances (e.g. in person, on TV, radio, internet, etc.).

(5) If you saw/heard the inauguration, describe your response vis-a-vis the religious intrusion in the inauguration event. [Please note that general statements about your feelings on church-state separation are not relevant here. We need specifics about what you felt as a result of what you saw and heard. Also, please avoid rants about political parties or politics in general. We are concerned with the inauguration event.]

(6) If you didn't see/hear the inauguration, explain why not.

(7) Best estimate of how many future inaugurations you plan to watch/hear (either in person or via TV/media)

(8) Also, if you have minor children who saw/heard the inauguration with you, or who you expect will see/hear the next inauguration, please put that in your declaration as well (including any information about *HOW* you believe their viewing/hearing the "so help you, God?", "so help me God", and clergy-led prayer will/could adversely affect them).

(9) Penalty of perjury statement

(10) Signature

(11) Address


Here is a template you may wish to use for writing your personal declaration:


I, (insert your name), declare as follows:

I am a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State of ___________.

I am a member of (insert the names of any relevant national, state, or local organizations, such as Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, Mayberry Atheists, etc. and, if applicable, any official positions you may hold in those organizations) .

I consider myself a (insert "atheist", "humanistic", whatever you use to describe your perspective).

I have (e.g. watched the inaugurations of 1989, 1993, and 2005 on television at my home, and I watched the inauguration of 2001 in person in Washington, DC--use your best recollection and mention specific years.)

I watched the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama (insert, for example, "live on television at my home, and later on the Internet", or however you witnessed the event).

As I watched this inauguration, I (insert your personal reaction about this event--in as much detail as you wish--the more descriptive of your feelings and response to the oath and prayers that you witnessed, the better--but avoid general feelings about church-state separation, or other political criticism).

(If you didn't see or hear the inauguration, say why.)

Being (insert age) years old, I expect to witness (insert estimated number) future inaugurations during my lifetime. (remember--it's number of inaugurations, NOT the number of years you expect to live)

(If you have minor children who saw the inauguration with you, or who you expect will view the next inauguration, insert that here, including any information about *HOW* you believe their viewing the "so help me God" and clergy-led prayer will/could adversely affect them.)

I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed on February (insert the date you submitted the file and signed the hard copy), 2009.

[leave space for signature on hard copy]

(Insert your typed name and address)


There, that's not so much, is it? And feel free to add more detail, if you wish, but please keep it all under one page.

Here's how to create and submit the declaration:

A. Copy and paste the template onto a blank letter-size page in any word processing program like Word, Word Perfect, Works, or Wordpad. You may need to adjust the formatting after you paste it.

B. After you paste it, insert the information requested, based on your personal inauguration experiences.

C. When you are satisfied, save the file to your computer, before you forget.

D. Then, print out a hard copy on white paper.

E. Sign the hard copy. Keep at least one signed, hard copy for your own records. And be prepared to scan or fax or snail mail a hard copy to us--see below.

Submit it to Mike by one of these methods:

--- If you have a scanner, scan the signed document and email BOTH the raw text file AND the scanned/signed file to: newdow.plaintiffs@verizon.net (If you know what OCR is, and have the ability to send good quality OCR documents, please send those in addition to the basic files.)

--- If you do not have a scanner, but you do have a fax machine, email the raw text file (.doc, .rtf, .txt, .pdf preferred) to newdow.plaintiffs@verizon.net and we will then send you a fax number to send the signed document to. (type "Fax" in the Subject Line of the email).

--- If you do not have a scanner or a fax machine, consider asking a friend who does, or take it to a commercial service like Staples. Most hotels offer a fax service. If you wish to spend the money for an express service or Express Mail that is also an option. But, before you go to this effort, email the raw text file to newdow.plaintiffs@verizon.net for a brief pre-review. (Note, we do not have the manpower to pre-review many submissions.)

--- As a last resort, you can take your chances with regular first-class US Mail, but Monday, Feb. 16 is a postal holiday, and anything that arrives after Mike's deadline, will not make it into this filing. He may be able to add more plaintiffs in a later filing, but there are no guarantees. Email the raw text file to newdow.plaintiffs@verizon.net (type "Snail Mail" in the subject line) and we will send you a snail mail address for your hard-copy submission.

--- Everybody will need to snail mail a signed original to us soon, but time is very critical for those who are unable to scan or fax the final signed original in advance. We will send you the snail mail address.

Please understand that Mike and his helpers have the discretion to reject any declaration deemed inappropriate to the case. Also, all submissions that are accepted for inclusion become part of the public record of this case, so please do not expect anonymity.

Questions? Email newdow.plaintiffs@verizon.net (type "Question" in the Subject line, please) We hope to establish an FAQ here soon.


Next Deadline, Sunday, Feb. 22!

On December 29, 2008, Constitutional activist Mike Newdow, along with the American Humanist Association and 39 other individuals and organizations, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging two monotheistic religious practices planned for Barack Obama's inauguration.

The first concerns the presidential oath of office, which is prescribed in the Constitution's Article II. With no authorization whatsoever, Chief Justices have taken to adding the purely religious phrase, "so help me God" when administering that oath. This practice is being challenged.

Additionally, since 1937, chaplains have been brought in to the inaugural ceremony to give prayers to Jesus and to God. Because such prayers are prohibited under the Establishment Clause, this, too, is being challenged.

You can view Mike's original complaint here.

Not unexpectedly, a preliminary injunction was denied. The case will now continue in the District Court, after which an appeal will be made to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. If the judges there adhere to the constitutional ideal of religious equality for all, a victory is assured!


In the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case where a "creche scene" depicting the birth of the baby Jesus was at issue, Justice Sandra Day O'connor wrote, "It is significant in this regard that the creche display apparently caused no political divisiveness prior to the filing of this lawsuit, although Pawtucket had incorporated the creche in its annual Christmas display for some years."

Justice O'Connor used that logic again in the Elk Grove (Pledge of Allegiance) case, writing, "in the 50 years that the Pledge has been recited as it is now, by millions of children, this was, at the time of its filing, only the third reported case of which I am aware to challenge it as an impermissible establishment of religion."

Justice Breyer, also, expressed this sentiment in 2005 in the Texas Ten Commandments case: "As far as I can tell, 40 years passed in which the presence of this monument, legally speaking, went unchallenged (until the single legal objection raised by petitioner)."

This argument - that the fact that members of a disenfranchised minority don't spend years of their lives (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) to fight what seems to be a futile battle can be interpreted as meaning that most don't care - is completely specious. How many Black Americans challenged the laws requiring them to sit in the back of the bus?

Thus, to demonstrate that there is a lot of support for ending the offensive, exclusionary references to God at the inauguration, we want 1,000 people to sign up as plaintiffs. Will you help?

NOW...Click HERE to learn HOW you can help!