During his Inaugural Address, President Obama gave a shout-out to us:
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.”
It could be considered lip-service (and nothing more, some could argue) but it was a meaningful gesture for a lot of us.
Yesterday, he did it again.
While addressing the massacre at Fort Hood during his radio address, President Obama made this comment:
“Thursday’s shooting was one of the most devastating ever committed on an American military base,” Mr. Obama said in prepared remarks. “And yet, even as we saw the worst of human nature on full display, we also saw the best of America.”
Mr. Obama was also quick to note the diversity of U.S. military personnel. “They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers,” he said. Mr. Hasan, a Muslim, was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan.
Again, it may not seem like much, but it goes a long way to combatting the stereotype that there are no atheists serving the military. I’m glad he did it and I hope he continues to include in when talking about the diversity of viewpoints in America.
American Atheists president Ed Buckner was also thrilled to hear it (via email alert):
We thank the president for including us in the diverse population that is the people of the United States. We appreciate the fact that President Obama has acknowledged what we have always known: Of course there are Atheists in foxholes, and there are and always have been men and women who have worn the uniform of this nation and have served with courage in the military and in many other ways.”
We should still go after the President for encouraging faith-based initiatives and the like, but he deserves our appreciation when he does something right. This is one of those gestures that can make a big difference.