I suppose we’ll have to get used to this from President Obama.
One day, he’ll invite anti-gay pastors to deliver Inauguration prayers. Later that same day, he’ll say “The United States is a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.”
One day, he’ll overwhelmingly invite Christians to join his “Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships” — then, you hear him saying something like this:
I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is — although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population — we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
The Secular Coalition for America even put out a press release, urging readers to thank him:
Despite the fact that that our Constitution established a secular government and has no mention of Jesus, Christianity, or any god(s), members of Congress continue to spread the false message that America was founded as a Christian nation. It is important that President Obama, our Constitutional Scholar-in-Chief, not follow in the footsteps of his predecessors or succumb to pressure by the Religious Right to continue spreading this fallacy.
While it’s nice to hear Obama say this, I don’t think we need to give him much credit here.
In context, he was referring to the current demographics of our country — we’re made up of people from many different religious and non-religious backgrounds. Even conservative Christians wouldn’t say we are now a Christian nation.
When the conservatives use that phrase, they are referring to the founding of our country — i.e. “We were founded as a Christian nation, by Christians.”
(Of course, they’re wrong about that.)
Obama didn’t correct that statement in his remarks. What he said wasn’t all that controversial — it was factual, and not even the Religious Right would dispute that. So let’s save our praise for when Obama deserves it.