Saturday, July 18, 2009

Atheists vs. repugs - Round One . . . .

Let the battle begin.

It's actually not much $$ involved.

It's the principle of the thing.

Per McClatchey today:

Atheists sue to keep 'In God We Trust' off Capitol Visitor Center
Rob Hotakainen | McClatchy Newspapers Posted: July 18, 2009

WASHINGTON — A California Republican congressman wants to do a little writing on the walls of Washington's newest federal building. If Rep. Dan Lungren gets his way, Congress will spend nearly $100,000 to engrave the words "In God We Trust" and the Pledge of Allegiance in prominent spots at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Lungren's proposal drew only a whimper of opposition last week when the House of Representatives voted 410-8 to approve it. Now, however, Lungren finds himself tussling with a national atheists and agnostics group.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. sued this week to stop the engraving, accusing Lungren of trying to force his religious beliefs on as many as 15 percent of all U.S. adults. That comprises "atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, none of whom possess a belief in a god," according to the lawsuit.

"It really is a Judeo-Christian endorsement by our government, and so Lungren is wrong," said Dan Barker of Madison, Wis., a co-president of the foundation. "Lungren and others are pro-religious, and they want to actually use the machinery of government to promote their particular private religious views. That is unconstitutional, and that's what we're asking the court to decide."


The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has 13,500 members, sued in U.S. District Court in Wisconsin. It alleges that Congress is trying to make belief in God synonymous with citizenship and "discouraging nonbelief" among Americans, a contention that Lungren rejects.

Lungren said that the phrase "In God We Trust" had a long history and was consistent with the beliefs of America's founding fathers. He also said that the Declaration of Independence referred to rights given by a creator.


Barker said the foundation had been waiting for the right case to challenge "In God We Trust." He said government actions could be challenged on state-church grounds if they had specific religious agendas. In this case, he said, backers of Lungren's plan have provided "the smoking guns" by giving specific, overt religious reasons for doing the engraving.

Barker said that atheists regarded the phrase "In God We Trust" as rude, uncivil and un-American.

"Tens of millions of really good Americans don't believe in God," he said. "In fact, there's many more nonbelievers than there are Jews, and we wouldn't think of offending Jews on our national monuments. . . . Why is it wrong to offend a Jewish minority but it's not wrong to offend those of us who serve in the military and sit on juries but we don't believe in God?"

This Freedom From Religion Foundation sounds like my kind of people.

Makes me proud to be a "Dairy Queen" originally from Wisconsin . . . .

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