This is not just an oversight or an abbreviation by the president: It is part of a pattern of being embarrassed by America’s Christian roots and deliberately attempting to eradicate public references to God. This is being done in official correspondence also, as occurred in the Universal Periodic Review submitted by the State Department to the United Nations in August.
It is little wonder then that an Aug. 19 Pew Research poll found that one in five Americans still erroneously believes the president is a Muslim. Even ABC host Barbara Walters was compelled to ask the president to address the persistent Muslim rumors in a Nov. 27 interview. And 59 percent of American Protestant pastors view Mr. Obama as something other than a Christian, according to a Life Way Research poll, published in December. It is unprecedented for a sitting president to have his faith so frequently questioned and scrutinized.
Mr. Obama has added fuel to this fire. For the first nine months of his presidency, he and his family attended church only once, leading to an outburst of reporting on this. He had campaigned as a Christian, had used much Christian rhetoric and had often referred to his faith as underpinning his character and political convictions. But shortly after he was elected the Christian candidate morphed into the slick and secular politico.
Mr. Obama left his previous church of 20 years, Trinity United in Chicago, during the presidential campaign as he disavowed the anti-American rants of its pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Subsequently, he claimed that his attendance in a church in the nation’s capital would present a security risk and would cause disruption. His explanation for not attending mass frequently since assuming office remains unconvincing, even to the many black Christians who have been his stalwart supporters. His actions are “shaking his good standing with spiritual leaders within the black community,” wrote Eric Hogue in a Sept. 23, 2009 article in BCNN1.com, a black Christian news site. The writer pointed out that, at the very least, the president’s daughters need regular church attendance and this is a basic fatherly duty — let alone the president’s responsibility to embody Christian leadership to the nation at large.
Since he was elected, Mr. Obama has attended church a handful of times. This fall, he and the family went to Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. This paltry record reveals that Mr. Obama is not the devoted Christian he claimed to be on the campaign trail. He is not anchored in a Christian community. While he is the president of a historically Christian nation, he really prefers to lead as a rootless secularist. He belongs in a suburban coffee shop sipping a latte and reading The New York Times rather than leading this “city upon a hill.”
It has been noted too, that by contrast to his lukewarm Christian pronouncements, Mr. Obama glows when he discusses the Muslim faith. Then, he is poet Obama, waxing graceful and eloquent. In February 2007, he stated to The New York Times that the Muslim call to prayer is “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” As president, he has also supported the building of the Ground Zero mosque, amid much public anger and controversy.
In the very same speech that Mr. Obama fumbled the national motto, he nonetheless referred to Islam in the most sympathetic manner. For example, he said that "al Qaeda and its affiliates... have no claim to be leaders of any religion" and "certainly not a great world religion like Islam." Hence, for our president, America’s Christian God is to be buried in the catacombs of public discourse. Yet, the religion of Allah can be glorified and called "great" at the drop of a hat. When did he last refer to Christianity as “a great world religion?”
Mr. Obama also has an affinity for the beauty of mosques that he apparently does not have for Christian churches. In the speech in Indonesia, poet-laureate Obama used stirring language regarding a mosque, the Istiqlal, built by a Christian architect: "Earlier today, I visited the Istiqlal mosque — a place of worship that was still under construction when I lived in Jakarta. I admired its soaring minaret, imposing dome, and welcoming space." When has he spoken so sweetly about the allure of a Christian church, regarded universally as among the most glorious monuments on earth?
Mr. Obama has been keen to repair the relationship among Christians and Muslims, at home and abroad. But he ought to make more of an effort to repair the damage to Christianity by secularists here in America. In short, Mr. Obama appears to be proud of Muslims and ashamed of Christians.
This is not as our Founding Fathers intended future presidents to behave. They had God on their lips — and enshrined in our core documents — because they were men of deep faith. They repeatedly warned that the nation must remain wedded to organized religion, even as they championed the separation of church and state. They opposed an establishment religion, while they regarded religion itself as the wellspring of liberty and civic virtue. They made a distinction between an official religion, which they rejected, and a nation’s common religion, which they valued highly.
George Washington, in his Farewell Address of 1796, beseeched the nation to remain wedded to organized religion. “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion,” he said. “Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
John Adams expressed a similar point: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
In other words, our Founding Fathers were not ashamed of the Christian God, but embraced Him as the fountain of every individual and social grace. Why is our current president so far removed from all the principles that have made this nation both formidable and good?
The next time Mr. Obama lights the National Christmas tree, let him speak of Jesus not because the polls indicate it might be politically expedient for him to do so. Let him speak of God, in his public pronouncements, as our Founding Fathers did — with gratitude for the great and good God who has blessed America in abundance as in turn, America has historically exalted Him at every opportunity.
Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.