President Obama's inauguration speech and references to God

President Obama's inauguration speech and references to God

(This is also posted on servingatheists.org)

I listened to President Obama's inauguration speech with interest today because I believe myself to be a responsible American citizen. How he frames his next term is important to me and all citizens of the United States and, indeed, to everyone around the world. But I also listened to his speech to see how often and in what ways he would invoke religion and make references to God. In short, Obama mentioned God no fewer than five times. He ended his speech with, "Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America."

When Obama -or other public speakers in the United States- refer to God they think that they are being inclusive of all believers since the three Abrahamic religions refer to "God" in some form. But what of the large number who are non-theists? Can you imagine a President or other public speaker knowingly saying something that they know marginalizes, for example, Jewish people?

As a researcher examining the world of atheists for the last five years, I know that his words made a large number of people in the United States uncomfortable. Here is the relevant question from my most recent survey and the responses:

Which best describes how you feel in public gatherings where religion is invoked (for example when a speaker refers to God or says a prayer)?

I feel no discomfort 10.67% 688

I feel slight discomfort 30.19% 1,947

I feel moderate discomfort 35.09% 2,263

I feel great discomfort 24.06% 1,552

Total 6,450

From these data I think it is safe to say that the nearly 20% of US citizens who fall in "none" category when it comes to religion were made at least somewhat uncomfortable, many extremely so, by President Obama's overt religiosity.

How about you?

http://polldaddy.com/poll/6845472/

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Comment by Idaho Spud on January 23, 2013 at 11:09am

I didn't listen to him because I can't stand listening to most pontificating politicians.  However, I was surprised and very unhappy when I heard how much he referenced god.  

I had heard that in the past he had included atheists in his remarks, but this speech seemed to almost contradict that one. 

Comment by Earther on January 22, 2013 at 7:18pm

Tom,  I am interested if you know how often the president has mentioned the term separation of church and state during his presidency.  I would like to know how active the people of the United States are in supporting and righting the breach of separation of church and state.

Comment by tom arcaro on January 21, 2013 at 7:14pm

Thanks!  I have made the edit.

Comment by Grinning Cat on January 21, 2013 at 7:03pm

[polldaddy poll=6845472]

This seems to work for that poll, asking "How do you feel about Obama's frequent mentioning of God in his inauguration speech?"

http://polldaddy.com/poll/6845472/

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