Atheists file suit to stop Warren invocation

Led by the man who challenged the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the plaintiffs say prayer shouldn't be allowed at Barack Obama's inauguration.

By Alex Koppelman

Published January 1, 2009 8:40PM (EST)

There are a fair number of people who don't want to see Rick Warren give the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration later this month. Not all of them have the same reasons.

The latest organized effort against Warren's participation was launched by a group of atheists who have filed a lawsuit that contends prayer should not be allowed during the ceremony. One name stands out among the list of plaintiffs -- Michael Newdow, the man who challenged the use of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The chance that the suit will be successful is slim, at best, especially since there's obviously a long history of prayer at inaugurations. Plus, Newdow filed similar actions in 2001 and 2005, and the challenge failed both times.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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