Reflections on the Inauguration January 26, 2009

Reflections on the Inauguration

There’s still some weighing in on President Barack Obama‘s use of the term “non-believers” during his Inauguration address.

From Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America:

Like most Americans, I felt a wonderful and profound chill watching Barack Obama become the first African-American president. I’m guessing that most nontheists voted for Obama and that we helped him win. With so many historical firsts this week, I wish I had seen a place on the inaugural program for one of the many patriotic Americans without religious belief. And since President Obama aligned himself so much with Abraham Lincoln, I would have been thrilled to hear anyone deliver this Lincoln quote: “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”

This week, we atheists have the audacity to remind President Obama of our founding as a secular nation, with a godless Constitution to protect the freedom of conscience and belief–or non-belief–for all people. We hope this religious inauguration does not portend an administration infused with religious advisers and events. We hope President Obama will include our perspectives as he recalls his non-religious parents and grandparents who raised him with good secular values. Though we do not believe in any gods, we do look for change we can believe in.

From Nica Lalli, author of Nothing: Something to Believe In:

So January 20 was a big day. Not only did I watch as our first ever black president sworn in, not only did I feel immense happiness that the guy I voted for made it all the way, but on top of all that I, a non-believer, was welcomed in a whole new way. My group of Americans was mentioned, my kind was allowed out into the sunshine on the steps of the capitol, we were invited to bask along with all the others in the greatness of the day.

The part of the morning that made me feel most left out was when Pastor Rick Warren got up to deliver the invocation. Again, I was not surprised by his words but I did hope for a little more inclusiveness. Pastor Warren did not speak to me, or to anyone who differs with his views. Many other religious leaders manage to do both, stay true to their beliefs and open themselves up in a way that can allow for other ideas to be included — or at least acknowledged.

And, of course, from Mike Huckabee and the FOXNews team:

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  • JasonOrlandoHawk

    If declaring Obama speech “offensive” over nothing more than a 15 second sound bite is foolish, then I have to wonder how the same can be done over a 7 second sound bite of Huckabee. Seeing as I haven’t seen the full interview, nor did I get a chance to see the full inauguration address (work issues), I guess I will have to label Obama more offensive, because he has a full 8 SECONDS more of potentially offensive material.

    *the above post may have contained ‘slight’ amounts of sarcasm*

  • Randy

    Leave it to Fox to create a story when there isn’t one.

  • Kyle

    I love watching Fox News these days, it’s better than The Daily Show and the Colbert Report!

    On inauguration day, while CNN and MSNBC were covering, you know, the inauguration, Bill-O was interviewing Sanjaya (from American Idol). Catching up with Sanjaya! John Stewart could not have written a funnier bit.

  • Jeff Flowers

    Any anyone give me a reference for the Lincoln quote? It’s awesome.

  • SarahH

    Meh, it’s Fox. Their target audience wants to hear this stuff, so they’ll serve it up.

    I don’t think Huckabee’s description was necessarily flattering (although the maker of that video certainly cut him off quickly! It smacked of quote mining to me), and a charitable interpretation of his remark could equate “themselves” with “humanity” which many atheists prioritize instead of prioritizing any God. At best, he’s mistaking atheism for humanism I guess, and at worst, he’s calling atheists selfish. Either way, I’m not much bothered by it – and I *am* bothered by the way his sentence was cut off at the end of the clip. I got the impression he might have been about to say something quite reasonable about the situation – otherwise, why cut it out of the video?

  • Jeff Flowers: The quote is on page 61 of William Barton’s book The Soul of Abraham Lincoln.

    Interestingly, those aren’t Lincoln’s words…he was quoting someone else.

  • I have to wonder how politically conservative atheists feel when they are categorically dissed by their mothership. Maybe they watch Bloomberg instead.

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