Tuesday, November 15, 2005

For a Secular $: God 'to be erased from money

News Austrialia: AN atheist waging a legal battle to delete the words "under God" from a patriotic oath recited in US public schools vowed Monday to sue to have the phrase "In God We Trust" removed from US coins and bank notes.

Both US currency and the Pledge of Allegiance should be fully secular to reflect the US Constitution's division of church and state, and "to have all Americans treated equally by their government," Michael Newdow said.

Mr Newdow told AFP he plans to file his new lawsuit electronically in federal court in Northern California by the end of the week.

"Can you imagine if, in some Catholic church, they passed the collection plate and the coins said there is no God?" Mr Newdow asked rhetorically.

"They wouldn't take that. I have a church, and I can't take currency for fundraising."

Mr Newdow is a doctor, lawyer, and a priest in his own church.

His church is based on three "suggestions," Mr Newdow said. Those suggestions are "question, be honest, and do what's right."

"We hold a definite view that being honest means you cannot reasonably conclude there is a God," he said.

Mr Newdow's civil suit arguing it is unconstitutional to make school children to recite the words "under God" as part of the Pledge of Allegiance cleared a lower court hurdle this year and is working its way through the legal system.

The US Supreme Court blocked an effort by Mr Newdow to keep religious references out of the January inauguration ceremony for US President George W. Bush.

"We are a nation of religious refugees," Mathew Staver of the conservative Christian group Liberty Counsel said during the inauguration controversy.

"Prayer has been an essential part of America and her history. Our history is pervaded by religious expressions. We are a nation of religious refugees, and it is therefore commonplace to see and hear expressions of religion."

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