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 ;-) 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: (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 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 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 (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 (type "Question" in the Subject line, please) We hope to establish an FAQ here soon.