April 29, 2005

Beware of the man with a cause, a guitar, and a belief in his own way with words.

Michael Newdow -- the man who opposed "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance -- what's he up to these days? Look out, he's got a guitar!
Newdow told the audience that he is overwhelmed by the abundance of words beginning with the letter C that are used to describe the United States' history.

"You have the Colonial era, the Continental Congresses, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitutional Convention," Newdow said. "It's really quite confusing. Just think about who discovered this place: Christopher Columbus, who comes to this new continent where communities congregate and coalesce into colonies such as Connecticut and the Carolinas.'

He continued to relay the events from colonization to the creation of the Constitution through alliteration.

Aside from being an accomplished orator, Newdow is also a singer-songwriter. He presented two of his songs during the lecture.

The first was a tune about the inaugural use of "So help me God," and the other was a melody about the Ten Commandments rock that was placed in the Alabama judicial building several years ago.

Newdow's next project is challenging the placement of "In God We Trust" upon American currency.

"I'm an atheist," he said. "I don't believe in God, so why does my money have to say that?"

I'm someone who can't stand media hounds, so why does my internet have to have a picture of him with a guitar on it?


Pancho said...

"I don't believe in God, so why does my money have to say that?"

Simple concept dipwad. The majority of the people do believe in God.

Steven said...

I'm an atheist, why do I have to be associated with dipwads like Newdow?

Steven said...

To elaborate my view --

I can understand why somebody with a religious belief system incompatible with a ceremonial invocation of God might object -- say, a Goddess religion with its own equivalent of "you shall not honor other deities". (Fortunately, exclusivist deities tend to be traditionally male, which avoids the problem.)

But if you're an athiest, why be any more offended by "In God We Trust" than, oh, an inscription of "In Captain Kirk We Trust"? If Newdow really believes God's fictional, why does it bother him so much? It may be silly to have it on the money, but it's hardly important.

MD said...

Hmm, what shall we call his type? Radical atheist? Atheist fundamentalist? The taliban of atheism? A royal pain or just plain annoying?

Ann Althouse said...

I guess we can say there are (at least) two kinds of atheists. I could put it in a way that is much kinder to Newdow. There are the mellow atheists who accept the diversity of theistic and nontheistic beliefs and doesn't get upset about all the God-recognizing that occurs around him and graciously goes along when the others want to include him. And there are the kind like Newdow whose belief that there is no God is an important belief, essentially his religion, and he feels he needs to evangelize, to get others to abandon their false beliefs and join him. He feels violated and manipulated if they impose the false beliefs on him.

It's the second type that tends to get the spotlight. Very similar to the way fundamentalist Christians or Muslims have a higher media profile than the moderate, liberal ones.

Be said...

MD - since I live with a guy like Newdow ("singer/songwriter" with a guitar who has issues with the God on money thing) and have known/dated enough of those types - experience has led me to believe that "doctrinal atheist" gets the most bang for the buck both in terms of accuracy of description and annoyance from the person I'm using the it on.

MD said...

Ok, I feel bad about the rhetorical excess of the taliban thing. I meant to be tongue in cheek.

But then, we live in a world where the 'soup nazi' is planning on opening a chain of restaurants and said Seinfeld restaurant is a tourist attraction....

It occurs to me that I've been more 'evangelized' by the evangelical type of atheist than by any evangelical Christian or Muslim. I mean, I've been more preached to by that particular group than any other, it seems, and really, I'd just like to be left alone period :)

Be said...

I'll agree with the proselytization thing - I tend to hear from more people who want to convert others to atheism.
Often, it's by mentioning that people who follow other religions are stupid and superstitious. Huge turnoff. As far as I'm concerned, atheism and theism are on the same footing, so there's no reason to call anyone else's beliefs stupid.

Cervus said...

Sorry, Mr. Newdow, you'll have to come up with a better reason than "I'm Offended!"

Peter said...

Newdow seems to have kind of an annoying personality. But his personality and his supposed tendency to proselytize have nothing to do with the arguments he’s making. Pancho’s comment is a perfect example of why Newdow has a good point. The First Amendment is there (among other things) to protect us from exactly the kind of majority domination in the area of religious belief that Pancho is advocating. To make an extreme analogy for the purposes of argument, the majority of Americans believe in angels, but that doesn’t make it ok to either put “In The Archangel Gabriel We Trust” on our currency, or to keep people from holding public office or receiving public benefits because they don’t believe in angels.

One of the substantive arguments Newdow is making is that putting “In God We Trust” on our currency is wrong because it’s more like an unconstitutional establishment of religion, and an infringement of the freedom of minority religious expression, than a harmless piece of ceremonial/historical symbolism. If you disagree, that’s cool, and maybe you’re right. But the argument he’s making is not based on his “feelings,” it’s based on a rational, perfectly defensible view of constitutional principle.

HaloJonesFan said...

>He feels violated and manipulated
>if they impose the false beliefs
>on him.

Except that it's not even that--according to what he's saying, he feels oppressed and violated if anyone at all has these false beliefs. He refuses to be content not just with the freedom to believe what he wants; he wants the security of knowing that everybody else believes what he wants.

>But the argument he’s making is
>not based on his “feelings,” it’s
>based on a rational, perfectly
>defensible view of constitutional

You're begging the question of whether "In God We Trust" is an endorsement of religion.

Joseph White said...

The reality is that guys like Newdow will always be around. They get themselves worked up over the tiniest little things. It's difficult to imagine a more innocuous phrase than "In God We Trust," and yet Newdow still manages to take offense. I don't take people like him seriously. Essentially, he's a Puritan Atheist.