Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Non-Theists Are Also Americans

All but lost in President Obama's (jeez, I love saying that!) inaugural address was this line:

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. [emphasis added]
Maybe it's just me, but I really can't recall another incident in which a high-power politician even bothered to acknowledge that we are out here.

As skeptical as I am about most things, I can't help but think that -- given that President Obama's speech was carefully constructed, deliberately worded and expertly delivered -- this signals some kind of major shift in the wind, a sea change (or whatever hackneyed cliché you want to apply) in the way that we non-theists (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, humanists, etc) will be viewed in the future.

Yeah, okay. I'm a dreamer. Give me a break... But I'm hoping that this really is a change we can believe in, and that those of us out here in Skeptic Land won't have to feel like second-class citizens any longer.


LemonJelly said...

Most definitely.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being a watchdog for reason.!

Loved that moment also....


becks said...

I noticed too- and I hope!

No Blood for Hubris said...

I noticed that.

Didn't sit quite so well with me. Setting up a believer/non-believer dichotomy? Hm.

Still sounds a little us-and-them-y.

jimkhm said...

I thought that was great as well. I thought what a way to put these zealots back into their place. The zealots are not above the non-believers. I loved it. Hopefully they will get the message.

Anonymous said...

My biggest concern as a person of faith is that this sea change signals the end of freedom of religion. I think it's good to see America moving in a direction where theists and non-theists are not ruled by theocracy, but I am concerned that the autonomy of churches to practice their religion according to their conscience will be severely restricted within 20 years.

I just hope that non-theists can avoid the temptation to allow this to happen when they see the writing on the wall. Freedom of religion (or freedom from religion) is good for everyone.

Farnsworth68 said...

Anon, NBFH & others --
The Fundos have had it their way for so long that the goalposts have now been moved to midfield.
No one in the "nontheist" camp wants to curtail the "free exercise" part of the First Amendment (well, that may not be strictly true, since I do know some who would like that...) but the Xians have had their way for so long that when the pendulum swings in the other direction, there's a natural tendency to over-correct.
However, since the USA is the most "churched" nation in the world, I don't think that anything that the government could possibly do would change that dynamic.
And I also believe that this high level of participation in one's chosen religion has occurred because of the Separation of Church and State doctrine, not in spite of it.