Selfish Motives?

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 14, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Michael Newdow (search) first filed his case over the Pledge of Allegiance on behalf of his daughter.


MICHAEL NEWDOW, ATTORNEY/ACTIVIST: I'm opposed to having the Pledge of Allegiance that says that there exists a God. I — when I brought the suit initially, the first time, I said, "I, as an American citizen, have a right not to have government taking this position."

I said there are number of reasons why. One of the reasons was that I'm a father whose child goes to public schools. And so, the 9th Circuit in California when it — the case won in the court of appeals, said, that's what we're going to look at. We are just looking at that. And that's how it became me and my daughter. But it's much broader than that. And I have always argued that I have a right to have a pledge that includes me.


GIBSON: Now, Newdow's ex-wife claims her daughter didn't have a problem reciting the classroom pledge in the first place.

Sandy Banning joins us now with the other side of this story.

So, Sandy, your daughter in fact didn't actually care?

SANDY BANNING, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF MICHAEL NEWDOW: Oh, she's always said the Pledge of Allegiance. There's never been an issue. We're Christians and we attend church regularly. And at the time that this decision came out by the 9th Circuit, we were actually teaching Sunday school. So, no, she's never had problem with reciting the pledge.

GIBSON: Well, I realize that you're not married to Michael Newdow now. What...

BANNING: Actually, we were never married.

GIBSON: OK. Can you explain his attitude? Do you know why he's doing this?

BANNING: Well, you know, initially, way back, when we were involved, his goal was to remove "In God we trust" off of our money.

And I just believe that his interest in constitutional law, and he just wants to take that and run with it. And he's jumping on these things, these national treasures, if you will, "In God we trust," you know, "God bless America" and all of the traditions that we hold dear, and he wants to remove them from our culture.

GIBSON: I take it you disapprove.

BANNING: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

GIBSON: And I take it your daughter disapproves.

BANNING: You know, every child needs to have a healthy relationship with their father or their mother, so we try not to stress the differences of what we believe in. But she has no issue at all with the Pledge of Allegiance or singing hymns in church or anything of that nature.

GIBSON: All right, Sandy Banning, who has a daughter with Michael Newdow. And we will see how this progresses. Sandy, thanks for coming on and giving us some perspective on how this thing wound up in our lap again.

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