The Washington Post reports that the widely-derided-by-religionazis Michael Newdow — backed by groups such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation — is suing in federal court to keep two pastors off the podium when Barack Obama is sworn into office as president, and to keep him from having to say “so help me God” at the end of his oath:

A group of atheists, led by a California man known for challenging “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, plan to file a lawsuit today to bar prayer at the swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama.

Michael A. Newdow, 17 other individuals and 10 groups representing atheists sued Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., several officials in charge of inaugural festivities and Rev. Joseph E. Lowery and pastor Rick Warren.

Somehow, America’s religious folk are not clear on this, and need to be reminded (as I blogged earlier): They aren’t going to see a bishop crown a king in a medieval rite, they’re going to see a US president sworn into office. In case anyone sees no problem with that practice, keep in mind that the author of the First Amendment, James Madison, said that the hiring of Congressional chaplains violated that Amendment (all spellings original):

Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom?

In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them; and these are to be paid out of the national taxes.

So … if the man who wrote the First Amendment didn’t think Congressional sessions should be opened by chaplains, what the hell business does a president have being sworn in under the watchful eye of clergy?

Any questions from the so-called “strict constructionists” out there (who are almost universally all of the Religious Right persuasion), who always seem to foam at the mouth over what they claim is “the Founders’ intent”? You now know what the Founders’ intent was — from the pen of that very Founder who wrote the First Amendment! Read it, learn it, understand it.

P.S. Did I mention that “so help me God” is also not part of the Constitutional oath that presidents swear to? Oh, that’s right … it’s OK to add stuff into the Constitution, so long as it’s God you’re adding in. There’s a word for that, you know … hypocrisy!)

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