President Obama struck an overtly religious tone during Thursday night’s lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, as he had in previous tree-lightings:
[The Christmas season is] a chance to remember what Christ taught us: That it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. That the simplest gifts bring the greatest joy. It’s a chance to count our blessings and give thanks for those outstanding service members that defend us. For Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs may this holiday season remind us of the spirit of brotherhood and generosity that unites us as citizens.”
The president made similar comments during previous tree lighting ceremonies --calling attention to Christmas’s meaning for Christians and drawing lessons from the holiday for people of all faiths.
Obama’s 2011 speech:
More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep. But this was not just any child. Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
That teaching has come to encircle the globe. It has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.
Without fail, each year, we have gathered here. Each year we’ve come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It’s a story that’s dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it’s a message that’s universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world.
It’s a message that says no matter who we are or where we are from, no matter the pain we endure or the wrongs we face, we are called to love one another as brothers and as sisters.