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For Immediate Release
April 26, 2006
Atheist Activist Newdow and Humorist Sweeney Join Secular Lobby
Washington, DC – The Secular Coalition for America is pleased to announce the addition of Michael Newdow and Julia Sweeney to its advisory board. The Secular Coalition for America is a lobbying organization representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists in the nation’s capitol. The Secular Coalition made headlines last September when it hired Lori Lipman Brown, a former Nevada State Senator, as the first full-time lobbyist for atheists at the federal level.
Michael Newdow, a medical doctor and lawyer, is best-known for his Pledge of Allegiance case, Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004). The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the phrase “under God” in the pledge constituted an endorsement of religion, and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the case based on its merits and overruled this decision based on procedural grounds. Newdow has since filed a similar suit on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. On September 14, 2005, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton, citing the precedent set by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Newdow’s previous suit, ruled that the pledge was unconstitutional. In November 2005, Newdow filed a lawsuit to have “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. coins and currency. Information on the progress of his lawsuits can be found at www.restorethepledge.com.
The actor and comedian, Julia Sweeney is most well-known for her roles on Saturday Night Live, particularly her androgynous character Pat. She was also won critical acclaim for her one-woman shows God Said, Ha! and Letting Go of God. In the latter play, Sweeney discusses her Irish Catholic upbringing, early religious beliefs, and the life events and internal search that led her to the realization that the universe works fine without a God in charge of it. She is currently writing a book “My Beautiful Loss of Faith Story” for Henry Holt & Co. This book further explores her journey from religious faith to philosophical naturalism. You can find more information on Julia Sweeney at her official website www.juliasweeney.com.
Lori Lipman Brown, the Director of the Secular Coalition for America, stated “I have long admired Dr. Newdow’s courage, integrity, and intellect and Ms. Sweeney’s bravery, humor, and artistry. They have both publicly presented themselves as atheists at a time when the religious right has left many fearful to speak up. I am especially proud that Michael Newdow and Julia Sweeney have agreed to join the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America to further our mission of increasing the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints in the United States and in protecting and strengthening the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.”
For more information contact Lori Lipman Brown, Director, Secular Coalition for America at 202-299-1091 or Lori@secular.org.