Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I watched the inauguration online yesterday, or, rather, as much as I could when the squirrels running the CNN servers were still working. But I got most of it. Including this part of his speech, as noted by Jonathan Cohn:

'...Using inclusive language about religion is pretty much ritual now. If you're a politician giving a speech and you're going to cite one faith, you have to cite many--i.e., not just Christians, but Jews, Muslims, and Hindus as well. And that's a good thing.

But if the standards of polite political discourse now require accepting people who pray to god in different ways, it doesn't require recognizing those who choose not to pray at all. At least not yet. That made this line in Obama's address significant:

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.

Perhaps this is another barrier, albeit a rhetorical one, that Obama intends to tear down over the next few years...'

It is a rhetorical 'barrier,' that is true, but it's nonetheless important. As the saying goes, an atheist couldn't be elected dog catcher in this country. And when politicians start incorporating religious talk into their babblings, it invariably ends up being a Protestant formulation - hardly an inclusive act. So we have a long way to go and it's a small step, but an excellent one.