In atheist circles, there is a lot of talk about how Obama acknowledged non-religious Americans in his inaugural address. Here's the quote:
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.Sweet. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn that I'm an American (The Buddhists and Sikhists will be so jealous). No, but seriously, this is great. You might notice that not only did Obama mention us, but he referred to us as part of a patchwork heritage, part of our strength. To contrast, only three presidencies ago, George Bush Sr. once said:
No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.I mean, what kind of country is it where the president can say things like that? It's the kind of country where the people in it agree that atheists should not be considered citizens. That's just sad.
Reality check: George W Bush (that guy who was president yesterday) has also acknowledged and said nice things about the non-religious. Here are two quotes from Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations:
I'm mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to or not. You're equally an American if you choose to worship an almighty and if you choose not to.I don't mean to assert equivalency between Bush and Obama. I merely mean to demonstrate that context is important too, that words alone aren't enough.
We know that men and women can be good without faith. We know that.
In somewhat related news, the American Humanist Association (this is the same organization, by the way, which had that bus campaign which I discussed earlier) is putting up a full page ad in the Washington Post. (story via Friendly Atheist)
my comment on the Friendly Atheist is a pretty good summary of what I think.
Perhaps it is a good time to rethink attitudes towards converts.
The ad makes a great point, though I’m not sure that people will quite get it. The ad does not say that Obama is non-religious (something I consider to be baseless speculation). What the ad does claim, is that he was brought up in a non-religious household. AFAIK, this is factually correct. And he turned out fine. Better than fine!
The obvious counterpoint is that, currently, he is apparently religious. Which is funny, because when anyone else goes through an atheist-to-Christian conversion, the dominant atheist reaction is “He wasn’t ever a real atheist” or “He wasn’t the rational, secular humanistic kind of atheist.”
I wonder how religious people would react to the ad. I imagine that they'd first be somewhat bewildered. And then what?