More than four months into the Obama presidency, a picture is emerging of a chief executive who is comfortable with public displays of his religion — although he has also paid tribute to other faiths and those he called “nonbelievers” during his inaugural address.Conservative evangelicals (i.e., Tony Perkins), somewhat happy with the language, call the language a "thin veneer" to anti-Christian policies, while those favoring a strong separation of church and state are nervous with the rhetoric. But, according to Politico, there are political reasons for the frequency of Obama and Bush' invocation of Jesus:
Obama’s invocation of the Christian Messiah is more overt than Americans heard in the public rhetoric of Bush in his time in the White House — even though Bush’s victories were powered in part by evangelical voters.
But there are different political imperatives driving the two presidents. Obama has every incentive to broadcast his Christianity, while Bush, for other reasons, chose to narrowcast his religious references to a targeted audience.At the same time, Politico has another article highlighting current atheist reaction to Obama. While upset with the use of religious rhetoric by Bush, atheists are currently willing to give Obama a pass despite his frequent use of similar language. Their thinking:
For Obama, Christian rhetoric offers an opportunity to connect with a broader base of supporters in a nation in which 83 percent of Americans believe in God. What’s more, regularly invoking Jesus helps Obama minimize the number of American who believe he is a Muslim — a linkage that can be politically damaging.
For Bush, invoking Jesus publicly was fraught with political risk. He was so closely politically identified with the Christian right that overt talk of Christ from the White House risked alienating mainstream and secular voters.
Nathan Bupp, director of communications for the Center for Inquiry, says that many nonbelievers view Obama’s invocations of faith as nothing more than a “symbolic gesture” used to aid his quest for social justice.Although there is some unease, atheist groups are generally pleased with some of Obama's policies and are pleased that they have been invited to the White House to offer their thoughts on a wide range of issues. Concluding atheist quote:
“They realize [Obama] is not doing what he’s doing for Pat Robertson-type reasons.”
“The one important thing to recognize,” says Harris, “is [Obama] is so much better than the last guy in the Oval Office, and everyone is feeling so much relief for the change he has brought, that they are inclined not to gripe too much about all the delusional stuff he may be paying lip service to or holding over from the previous administration.”