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The Religious Affiliation of
atheist lawyer who sued a California school,
claiming his daughter (a devout member of the Calvary Chapel)
was uncomfortable with the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance
Michael Newdow is a California atheist lawyer who sued the government seeking to ban the mention of God from the Pledge of Allegiance. Courts ruled that he had no standing because although he sued on behalf of his daughter, she was actually a devout Christian, a member of the Calvary Chapel, and she was not actually uncomfortable about the mention of God in the Pledge of Allegiance, which is what Michael Newdow had claimed. Also, Newdow did not have legal custody of his daughter. Newdow's daughter did not live with him, and he had never been married to her mother.
The article below refers to the interesting twist in the Michael Newdow/Pledge of Allegiance news story: the revelation that Newdow's daughter is actually a Christian herself. Because the Newdow/Pledge of Allegiance story had for many weeks been in the national news, this new twist in the story was covered by virtually hundreds of newspapers. Many of the news stories and articles mentioned that Newdow's daughter is a member of the Calvary Chapel, but most simply described her as an Evangelical or a Protestant or a Christian. Articles problably neglected to mention the denominational affiliation of Newdow's daughter because most people are not familiar with the Calvary Chapel denomination and because which denomination she belongs to is irrelevant to the story. The key outcome of this revelation was that it became clear that Newdow never had standing to file this law suit in the first place. From: Ted Olsen, "Weblog: Girl in Pledge Case Is Christian Who Attends Calvary Chapel" in Christianity Today, 1 July 2005 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/125/52.0.html; viewed 19 August 2005):
Michael Newdow's daughter "loves the Lord," says pastor Chuck Smith
Conservative online media are abuzz this week with word that the second-grade daughter of atheist Michael Newdow, who sued a California school district over the Pledge of Allegiance on her behalf, wasn't troubled by the words "Under God" in the Pledge at all. "The little girl, over whom the suit was filed, happens to attend Calvary Chapel, in Elk Grove," Pastor Chuck Smith told his congregation at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California. "She is Christian, her mother is a Christian. This whole suit was filed on a totally false premise." (Audio of many of Smith's sermons are available here, but Sunday night's sermon hasn't been posted yet.)
The story was apparently first reported by CPINews.net, then picked up by WorldNetDaily. It doesn't appear to have hit the mainstream media yet, though the child's mother, Sandra Banning, was reportedly scheduled for an appearance on CBS's Early Show.
"[Newdow] lied to the court under oath. This is a crime," Austin Miles says in an Assist News Service commentary. "The public must demand that The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco charge Michael Newdow with perjury and punish him to the full extent of the law."
Perjury charges or not, legal scholars were already doubting whether Newdow had sufficient standing to file the suit. This development increases the chances the appeal will be decided on standing rather than on the merits of the case. The full 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court wouldn't have to decide whether "Under God" violates the First Amendment's prohibition on establishing religion. It could just say that Newdow didn't have the right to file the suit.
Webpage created 19 August 2005. Last modified 19 August 2005.
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