Every year once the President is done with the serious duty of pardoning a turkey, he addresses the country with a Thanksgiving proclamation. However, Obama’s speech was a tad bit different than those in the past – he left out references to God. Well, not completely. His single reference to God was tucked inside of a George Washington quote:
Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed “by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God,” and President Abraham Lincoln, who established our annual Thanksgiving Day to help mend a fractured Nation in the midst of civil war.
But those were George Washington’s words, which were balanced with the practicality of Lincoln’s quote. Obama himself didn’t invoke a deity. When you compare this to some of the things Bush said during his last Thanksgiving proclamation, you can see the difference:
On this day, let us all give thanks to God who blessed our Nation’s first days and who blesses us today. May He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country always.
We recognize that all of these blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God….
Having arrived in the New World, these early settlers gave thanks to the Author of Life….
And as noted by Jill Stanek, “President Bush called the 1st celebrants “Pilgrims,” Obama said they were “European settlers.”” A subtle but significant difference.
Some nonbelievers don’t care when Obama gives a shout to non-believers or simply leaves God out of his secular speeches, but I think it’s important. If our President invokes God like belief is normal, required, and patriotic, it alienates the “Nones” of America. By simply keeping his Thanksgiving proclamation secular, Obama is making baby steps toward a more inclusive environment. Yes, there is certainly more I think he could be doing, but I’ll take what I can get for now.