Update: Mr. Obama HAS REQUESTED the words "so help me God" be added to his oath. Hooray!
It should come as no surprise that California atheist Michael Newdow has filed suit to keep Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. from using the words "so help me God" in the inaugural oath on January 20. He says it would be fine if Obama inserted the words on his own, as many suggest George Washington did, but for Roberts to prompt him to do so would be a violation of the First Amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The complaint also states, "It is well known that defendant Roberts is a Catholic" and adds that Rev. Rick Warren, whom Obama has chosen for the invocation, has repeatedly said he would never vote for an atheist. Inclusion of an invocation and a benediction in the program, Newdow adds, is "completely exclusionary, showing absolute disrespect to plaintiffs and others of similar religious views."
The suit claims that atheists will feel excluded and stigmitized if they are forced to watch promotion of religious interests.
Newdow even speaks out against the use of the Bible in the swearing in ceremony. He is not actually suing Obama himself though because he says Obama has free choice. But again, for a "state actor" like Roberts, to insert the words, or prompt Obama to use them, is wrong.
It's unclear and a matter of dispute how many presidents have actually inserted the term. Whether Washington did or not is disputed; whether Lincoln did or not is disputed but most think he did. Since FDR all recent presidents have used the phrase.
According in Intrade, it's a 50-50 chance right now that Obama won't use the phrase. What do you think?