The second presidential inauguration for Barack Obama has come and passed. Many of us listened to the usual God talk that unfortunately comes with a surprising number of government events these days. Every speaker seems to channel an inner Tiny Tim with a “God bless us, every one!” He even doubled the usual number Bibles under his left hand:
But that said, Annie Laurie Gaylor from the Freedom from Religion Foundation had a very positive take on the day as whole, with her interesting essay: ‘Godding’ going on, but humanism prevails.
Her essay noted some definite cringe moments, such as when Rev. Luis Leon said “We pray that you will bless us with your continued presence, because without it, hatred and arrogance will infect our hearts.” Annie Laurie responded
Anyone who’s cracked open a bible has to know this particular “holy book” is infected with hatred and arrogance, not just for gays, but for women, for that heretic who putters around and innocently makes a “graven image” of some rival god, even for “disobedient” children.
She then went on to note that there was a definite softening of the God statements as compared to recent speeches:
Like President George W. Bush, his predecessor, Obama made the mistake of saying “Freedom is a gift from God.” What an oxymoron. If some Hot Shot in the Sky has to “give” humanity freedom, then humanity ain’t really free. But Obama followed up that cliché by adding, “While freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”
As a whole, it really wasn’t as bad as previous speeches. Annie Laurie goes on to write:
In examining the meat of the address, humanism prevails. Obama urged “that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortunes.” He called for action on climate change and jobs. He spoke of the tarnish that rampant childhood poverty and our nation’s indifference to it create. He invoked not Jesus but “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall,” elevating women’s rights, as well as civil rights and gay rights.
“You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course” is in fact a statement that 250 years ago was a cry of insurrection. Obama repeatedly invoked “We the People,” as our Constitution does, not a monarch, or even a Monarch in the Sky, as the power that sets our course.
Yes, we freethinkers do get weary of the “God Bless America” bromides, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that secularism and humanism have really almost won the battle already when we talk of humans and citizens setting our own course and “acting in our own time.”
Let’s hear it for progress!
What do you think? Was is a step in the right direction or as godly as ever?