President Obama Mentions Non-Believers in Religious Freedom Day Proclamation

Turns out President Obama did something else meaningful today: He signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring it Religious Freedom Day — and he didn’t forget to include non-religious Americans in the mix:

Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose. As a free country, our story has been shaped by every language and enriched by every culture. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, Sikhs and non-believers. Our patchwork heritage is a strength we owe to our religious freedom.

Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our world cannot know lasting peace.

I suppose it went unnoticed that he signed the proclamation “in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen”… but slow clap for lip service.

For what it’s worth, this is nothing new for Obama.

Last year, he also mentioned non-believers in his proclamation:

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia Statute formed the basis for the First Amendment, which has preserved religious freedom for both believers and non-believers for over 220 years. As our Nation has grown, so too has its diversity of faiths, cultures, and traditions; today, individuals of rich and varied beliefs call America home and seek to follow their consciences in peace. Our long history of religious tolerance and pluralism has strengthened our country, helped create a vibrant civil society, and remained true to the principles enshrined in our founding documents.

In 2011, he made an oblique reference to us:

The writ of the Founding Fathers has upheld the ability of Americans to worship and practice religion as they choose, including the right to believe in no religion at all.

In 2010, same thing:

Long before our Nation’s independence, weary settlers sought refuge on our shores to escape religious persecution on other continents. Recognizing their strife and toil, it was the genius of America’s forefathers to protect our freedom of religion, including the freedom to practice none at all.

President Bush didn’t make an overt reference to non-believers in 2009, though the general idea of religious freedom was there, as one might expect.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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