Focus, Freethinkers Schedule Get-Down With God

It’s a confab of strange bedfellows that promises to be a lively affair: The Colorado Springs-based Christian ministry Focus on the Family is hosting a group of atheists and agnostics this week. The topic:  Are we really One Nation Under God?Leading the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs will be Reverend Dr. Michael Newdow, a physician and constitutional lawyer who is, according to the group, “most widely known for his efforts to remove the phrase `under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance and `In God We Trust’ from U.S. currency.”

Newdow will debate Focus on the Family’s Chris Leland, senior fellow for Christian worldview studies. The two, according to a joint statement issued by the opposing groups, “will tackle issues of separation of church and state, focusing specifically on the use of `God’ in government affairs.”

“The Freethinkers contacted us about having a debate, rather than having Newdow just come to town to speak,” Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger told Colorado Confidential. “We leapt at the opportunity.

“We ought to be able to a) contend for our faith; and b) show hospitality to those who may disagree with us. We’re looking forward to it.”

Says Stefanie Sanden, vice president of the Freethinkers:  “[We] promote equality and respect for all people, regardless of their beliefs, and feel the endorsement of religion in public schools and on our money violates the rights of individuals and families.” 

The debate is free and open to the public and scheduled this Wednesday, April 23 beginning at 7 p.m. at Focus on the Family world headquarters in northern Colorado Springs.

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at The Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at

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