Religion in Society

Trial to Ban All Prayer at Inauguration Begins

| by Pacific Justice Institute

Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel of Pacific Justice Institute, will appear in federal court Thursday in Washington, D.C. to defend Pastor Rick Warren against a lawsuit seeking to halt prayers at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

PJI is well-acquainted with the lead plaintiff and attorney filing this lawsuit, Sacramento-based atheist Michael Newdow. PJI is a co-defendant alongside the U.S. government in a suit Newdow has filed to have "In God We Trust" stricken from our nation's currency. That lawsuit, along with Newdow's well-publicized lawsuit to stop recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, are both pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Newdow also tried unsuccessfully to stop inauguration prayers in 2001 and 2005.

Pastor Rick Warren has been invited to deliver the invocation at next week's presidential inauguration, and he is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Warren has garnered international acclaim for his book The Purpose-Driven Life, as well as for his efforts to combat AIDS in Africa and for his hosting of a presidential debate last year. At his request, PJI Chief Counsel Kevin Snider will appear in court tomorrow and ask a federal judge to allow the time-honored inaugural prayer to proceed.

"Courts have long upheld the legality of prayer at public events as a method of solemnizing public occasions," noted PJI President Brad Dacus. "There are few public occasions more important than the inauguration of our President. We are honored to defend Pastor Rick Warren who has impacted the lives of so many, against this lawsuit."

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