Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration

Hi! Perhaps it is a bit cliché to write my first post on the first day of our new presidency, but I can live with that...

As I sit watching the inauguration, I am amazed at how much religion is still present in the ceremony. Even though President Obama explicitly stated that the United States is a nation of Christians and Muslims and even non-believers, the ceremony opened and closed with Christian prayers, and the oath was taken on the Christian bible. Obama also quoted scripture in his address, calling on the American people to "turn away from childish things."

I guess there are no specific contradictions to the constitution, which states only that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." But it still seems odd that Christianity plays such a large part in the traditions of the inauguration. Don't get me wrong - I think the prayers were great, and I liked how the cameras showed people in the crowd during the prayers, which reminded me of being a kid looking around the dinner table at Thanksgiving to see whose eyes were open during the blessing. But during an inaugural address that seemed so focused on inclusion, it seemed to certainly exclude a large part of the American people.

I began to wonder how people would react if those religious elements were taken out of the ceremony, but then I realized that I don't think a non-Christian candidate would be elected. Is religious diversity really more of an obstacle to the presidency than race?