As expected, the president attended the (so-called “National”) Prayer Breakfast again this year. I know I sound like a broken record when I point this out, but the NPB is sponsored by a group called the Family, a secretive political organization that grooms conservative politicians, teaching them that the powerful are the chosen of God and need not worry about such trivialities as the law. The Family is cozy with Third World dictators, and has been instrumental in supporting disturbing homophobic legislation that’s been passed in places like Uganda. For more go here and here and here.
Nonetheless, the NPB has become a tradition in Washington, and no president has dared not attend for at least 40 years. I’ve said many times that I wish Obama would either boycott the NPB and publicly call them out for the egregious beliefs and policies outlined above, or attend and give them a withering speech, condemning them right to their faces.
Of course, that’ll never happen. So the president attended and rattled off the usual religious pabulum about the Almighty guiding us, yadda yadda yadda.
But I will give him credit for slipping in a couple of relatively subtle jabs at religious conservatives. For example:
We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love.
Nice shout out for gay rights and marriage equality, but not exactly a call to arms.
Then there’s this one:
And central to [the inherent dignity of every human being] is freedom of religion — the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.
Read the entire speech here.
It’s become par for the course for Obama to mention the nonreligious in the State of the Union and other symbolically important speeches. I still can’t decide if he’s just throwing us a bone, or making a legitimate attempt at expanding the spectrum of world views that are acceptable in American political discussions.
I’ll be interested to see if the tone of the president’s public proclamations change significantly AFTER the midterm Congressional elections. Regardless of which way the political balance in the Senate or the House shifts, presidents in their late second term have always had a bit of freedom to do or say certain things with little concern about the political fallout. Meanwhile, I’ll give him a D+ for his NPB performance.