A Better Inauguration
"The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a state/church watchdog, and the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics with more than 13,000 members, has gone one step further than others decrying the selection of Rev. Rick Warren to lead the inaugural invocation.
"The Foundation is asking President-Elect Barack Obama to drop prayer and religious ritual entirely from the official ceremony, and to keep the Presidential oath secular. The Presidential oath or affirmation, as dictated in the U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8, has no reference to a god, or instructions to place a hand on a bible.
"'The First Amendment guarantees all American citizens the free exercise of religion. But the Establishment Clause requires that the President or other elected officials be scrupulous in conscientiously separating personal religious views from their government actions and duties,' write Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-presidents, in a letter to Obama.
"'Wholly aside from the selection of the unsuitable Rev. Warren, the scheduling of prayer by two Christian ministers at the formal Inauguration gives the unavoidable appearance of uniting Christianity and the Presidency,' they wrote President-Elect Obama. The pair point out that choosing two Christian ministers to pray simply signals 'religious orthodoxy,' but that any ministers chosen would by definition alienate or exclude at least some Americans."
Full text at http://ffrf.org/news/2008/obama_warren.php
Just as FFRF took a step beyond the righteously offended LGBT community, I'll take one more step beyond theirs.
Let's not just get rid of all the religious trappings at the inauguration, let's get rid of all the rest of them as well — the parades, the speeches, the fancy dress balls, the posturing and pontificating, the massive crowds, the overtaxed subways and porta-potties, the security nightmares. Chuck 'em all!
We went thru the Revolutionary War to divest ourselves of the monarchy and all the useless ornamentation and mindless ritual that accompany it. I see no need to recreate it in an ostensible democracy.
My ideal inauguration ceremony? Obama shows up in the Oval Office in front of a nationally connected video feed, takes the oath (exactly as specified in the Constitution, without that distasteful "so help me God" at the end), then takes off his suit coat, starts rolling up his sleeves, looks straight into the camera, and says "OK, let's get to work!". We could all be equal participants (well, OK, observers) in a ceremony like that, without any favoritism or squabbles over who's the teacher's pet.