We got mentioned in an article in Politico today entitled “Atheists keep faith with Barack Obama“. It addresses the view that Obama has been a mixed bag when it comes to the nontheistic community. He’s mentioned us in a variety of speeches, true. But Obama also displays a lot of religiosity and hasn’t made good on some of his promises to restore the separation of church and state.
As a recent example, he’s announced that he intends to nominate Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) to be the new Army Secretary. McHugh got a 0% rating from Americans United for Separation of Church and State – an ominous sign for our attempts to stop coercive proselytizing in the military.
But he’s giving us exactly the lip service that Secular Coalition president Herb Silverman wished for in his Washington Post On Faith article “For Secular Americans, Lip Service Beats No Service“:
I would be thrilled to see politicians court us by accepting invitations to speak at atheist and humanist conferences, as they do at religious events. I would love to hear them say we were founded as a secular nation, with no mention of any gods in our Constitution, and speak about the value of separating religion from government. I’d be delighted to hear them defend atheists and agnostics from our detractors, reminding Americans that freedom of conscience extends to citizens of all faiths and none.
Yes, even if their words changed nothing about public policy, lip service would be a wonderful new dimension in the relationship between politicians and secular Americans–it would mean public acknowledgement that we exist. It might even lead to the occasional political crumb: an elected official hiring advisers who are openly humanist, for example. Just this minimal level of recognition could go a long way toward changing the hearts and minds of people who assume god belief to be a prerequisite for morality and ethical behavior.
I see no reason why the nontheistic community can’t recognize the good Obama is doing while still pushing him to do more. In fact, I think it would be irresponsible for us to stop pushing.
So: Thank you President Obama, for what you’ve done for us. It helps when you include us in the national discourse, and we appreciate that. But there’s still much more that needs to be done.