December 18, 2012

President Obama Continues to Alienate Atheists

President ObamaAfter he insisted on quoting the Christian bible at the end of one address, President Obama laid the religion on even thicker in his speech from Newtown, Connecticut. In doing so, he again managed to alienate those of us who do not believe in gods and those of us who, regardless of our religious beliefs, are not interested in hearing about his. At times like these, we need a leader - not a pastor-in-chief.

John (Reason Being) asks whether every single one of the victims, victims' families, and first responders were religious. If not, why did President Obama insist on all the Christianspeak? Did it never occur to him how this might be perceived by those who do not share his particular superstitions? John explains precisely why atheists should find the President's speech offensive:
It cuts to the center of so many of the discriminating comments that us atheists face—those regarding morality and the purpose of life. It leads people to derisively ask atheists “how can we be good without god?” and “without god, what is the purpose of life?” These questions are a source of great pain for many atheists who are discriminated against.
I think he's right, and I encourage you to read the rest of his excellent post.

Staks (Dangerous Talk) made similar points, focusing on President Obama's insistence that some sort of god had "called them all home" when referring to the victims.
This is a surprising and extremely insensitive statement coming from the President. It is surprising that he would push his religion so forcefully on the nation at a time when people are emotionally vulnerable. Twenty kids and six adults were just murdered and the President is talking about how God is lonely and wants some company. I guess the pitter patter of Ethiopians kids who starved to death wasn’t enough for God.
This may seem a bit harsh, but I believe the tone is warranted. Not only is all the god talk alienating atheists and anyone who values separation of church and state, but it runs the risk of leading people astray. This is not the time for superstition and the false comfort of prayer; we need reality-based solutions to the problems afflicting our country.

Some will say that the president is merely trying to offer comfort to a grieving nation and that the time for solutions will come later. Perhaps. But if that's the case, why alienate the atheists at all? Why speak only to the god-believers, and why squander the opportunity to unite a nation by endorsing superstition and magical thinking? Doing so not only smacks of the state promotion of religion; it may undermine progress on the tasks we need to accomplish moving forward.