Earlier today, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that I suspect is ignored by most Americans because the intertwining of Christianity and politics is so commonplace these days. As, he has done in the past, Obama mentioned secular Americans. Kind of.
... I know that all Americans, men and women of different faith, and yes, those of no faith that they can name, are nevertheless joined together in common purpose, believing in something that is bigger than ourselves and the ideals that lie at the heart of our nation’s families. That, as a people, we are bound together...
He also said that all Americans, including secular Americans, have a “deep abiding faith in this nation.”
That’s an odd way to throw atheists a bone. To suggest that we’re all alike because theists believe in God and the supernatural while atheists believe in the power of nature and our own abilities is a stretch. It’s a platitude. It’s like when Obama says Democrats and Republicans are united in the fact that they both care for this country -- it may be technically true but, in reality, the two sides are about as far apart as they could be.
If Obama really wants to make an effort to reach out to secular Americans, he doesn’t have to offer us second-rate lip service at a religious event. I would much rather he avoid participating in events like these completely -- tradition be damned -- and keep his faith to himself. The National Prayer Breakfast only bolsters the false notion that our nation is a Christian one -- and name-dropping other belief systems doesn’t help the situation one bit.
Hemant Mehta blogs at the Friendly Atheist.