Was Obama referencing atheists at National Prayer Breakfast?

Earlier today, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that I suspect is ignored by most Americans … Continued

Earlier today, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, an event that I suspect is ignored by most Americans because the intertwining of Christianity and politics is so commonplace these days. As, he has done in the past, Obama mentioned secular Americans. Kind of.

He said:

He also said that all Americans, including secular Americans, have a “deep abiding faith in this nation.”

That’s an odd way to throw atheists a bone. To suggest that we’re all alike because theists believe in God and the supernatural while atheists believe in the power of nature and our own abilities is a stretch. It’s a platitude. It’s like when Obama says Democrats and Republicans are united in the fact that they both care for this country — it may be technically true but, in reality, the two sides are about as far apart as they could be.

If Obama really wants to make an effort to reach out to secular Americans, he doesn’t have to offer us second-rate lip service at a religious event. I would much rather he avoid participating in events like these completely — tradition be damned — and keep his faith to himself. The National Prayer Breakfast only bolsters the false notion that our nation is a Christian one — and name-dropping other belief systems doesn’t help the situation one bit.

Hemant Mehta blogs at the Friendly Atheist.

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  • wayfarer74

    I agree with Hemant. There is no need for the President to promote this kind of devisive event. The clear message is that secular citizens are not true Americans because they don’t believe in prayer. The line “those of no faith that they can name” is about a condescending as you can be.

  • Khartet

    we all feel sorry for atheists, it must be difficult to see the world through your distorted viewpoint. it’s ok, we still pray for you and will always have a place for you when you come to your senses

  • cjw1168

    But, in his defense, if he HADNT shown up, FOX would have been chewing on it all day talking about his slap in the face to Christians and how it was just another sign of the ” war on Christians”

  • Jesse M.

    And we feel sorry for you, Khartet! ; )

  • quadibloc

    Well, some atheists, like myself, still believe in absolute values of right and wrong, and that human consciousness exists and is significant.

  • Rongoklunk

    I actually feel sorry for believers who just can’t handle the truth that there’s nobody up there. Nobody. Check with your local astronomer, or read Stephen Hawking who studies the cosmos and writes that no gods were needed in figuring out how the universe was created. Such a dumb hypothesis makes scientists giggle. And it was religious people who took down the WTC on 9/11, guys who were more religious than you – who gave up their lives just to be with him. Is your believe as strong as theirs? They DIED for their believe. They were just as certain as you that Allah lives up there in the clouds. They expected celestial virgins – and all they got was death. That’s religion.

  • diatomic

    This atheist is glad he isn’t an insecure, intolerant like you.

    What a pathetic comment.

  • diatomic

    Was that a joke?

  • XVIIHailSkins

    And as a second term president, he could tell them where to stick it. There is no defense for this type of dishonesty.

  • awawa1

    “If praying did any good, they’d be paying people to pray.”

  • nkri401

    Indeed, and I would volunteer to pray day and night…

  • Joel Hardman

    Fox will say that Obama has slapped Christians in the face no matter what he does. Jesus could descend from heaven and give Obama a hug and Fox news would spin it as Obama trying to push a homosexual agenda.

  • awawa1

    Ah, but it didn’t do any good, zz. There’s a sucker born every minute. (There seem to be an especially large number of suckers born in the American South and in the Middle East.)

  • Gracian

    So our truculent writer snaps it is a “false notion that our nation is a Christian one.”

    Really? Just about three quarters of the US idetifies itself that way. Sucks to be an atheist!

  • nkri401

    Sucks to be you – my kid’s favorite insult…

    I think as a Christian, it sucks worse as I may go to hell even after giving away all my riches to the poor.

    This really would sucks to be me.

  • Rongoklunk

    You’d think that people would learn from history and from evolution that there are no gods. Despite the thousands of gods of the ancients – not one of them was real. Think about that. The gods were not real. Cultures actually sacrificed people – sometimes by the thousands to many of these so called gods. And now we know they were just made up. Doesn’t it make you wanna SCREAM? In all of time – there were NO gods. If they were not real what were they then? Answer; Make believe. They were all made up by very reality-challenged and superstitiously inclined people; because they knew no better.
    And still people don’t get it. Gods do not exist. A good book on the subject is “God; The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger. He demonstrates the absurdity of such supernatural claims.

  • Rongoklunk

    It only sucks to be an atheist if there’s a god. And as there almost certainly isn’t one – then it sucks to believe in an ancient superstition that says there is one. Even two hundred years ago that theory began to unravel, and Darwin dealt the killing blow by showing that a god didn’t create us…evolution did, over eons and eons of time.We used to be apelike creatures who lived in trees and – if you go back far enough, our very very very ancient ancestors were fish; supported by fossil evidence and evolution. The bible doesn’t tell you that though does it. That’s because the guys who wrote it (and there were hundreds of them over the centuries) didn’t know anything about science, and thought that a god made every living thing. What were they expected to believe? They were totally ignorant. But we are luckier than they were. We have EDUCATION. We are literate, and have science now and commonsense. And we know that there is no supernatural dimension to reality, and no gods, and no fairies at the bottom of our gardens. Hallelujah!

  • Reformer1989

    I love how the “neutral” solution is to tell the POTUS not to show faith in public. Part of freedom of religion is the ability to practice your faith anywhere, anytime. That’s something our nation has lost. Why is it okay for an atheist to clamor about what he believes in regardless of the scenario but the theist has to hide in a corner with his beliefs?

  • gonnagle

    One pair of hands working will achieve more than a thousand hands clasped in prayer.

  • Reformer1989

    Doesn’t it defy the notion of tolerance if he is unwilling to be appear at events hosted by those who believe differently than him? If our goal is really to be tolerant of all beliefs, why can the POTUS not be tolerant of a group that for religious reasons holds something to be a sin that the President does not?

  • Reformer1989

    Actually, there are thousands of articles that suggest that you are very wrong about that, Rong, there are still countless Ph.D.’s in science who hold that God created the universe, not to mention the extremely high rate of philosophers who see Darwinism as impossible, atheist and theist alike. Take the time to read Thomas Nagel’s ‘Mind and Cosmos.’ Nagel is an atheist who teaches philosophy and law at NYU, and that book is his showing how Darwinism is simply impossible. Antony Flew came to the same objection. What you rail as a dead superstition is actually an extremely relevant and valid belief, you just need to read a balanced set of literature instead of grovelling in those things that support your presuppositions.

  • gonnagle

    Please don’t bother praying for me. It might make you feel better but it wont do anything for me. Unless of course making yourself feel better is the purpose in which case you contradict the entire premise of your religion!

  • Katherine Harms

    If prayer were about wish fulfillment, then the president’s remarks, and this atheist’s remarks, would make sense. Prayer is about coming into closer relationship with God and his purposes, not about getting what we wish for. As for the presence of evil in the world, that is all about the fact that God gives every human being complete freedom to choose whom, or what, he will serve. When people serve evil, then evil happens.

  • Katherine Harms

    Tell them where to stick it? Is that what you think being a second-term president it? Do you really believe that a second term is a license to do whatever you darn well please without regard for anybody?

  • Katherine Harms

    The God to which I pray transcends the time/space continuum to which atheist denial tries to confine him. You can’t see him with instruments that measure time and space. As for praying for you, I don’t do it so you will know about my prayer; I do it so you will know the love of God. Every time you feel the need to reject it, you testify that its presence is bothering you. God loves you whether you accept it or not. Because God loves you, I, and many other Christians, pray for you to know his love.

  • Reformer1989

    Rong, since you are all about suggesting literature, try “God and Other Minds”, “Warranted Christian Belief”, or “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism” by Alvin Plantinga, one of the foremost philosophers on the planet. Or if you insist on reading only atheists, try reading some William Rowe or Thomas Nagel. Both men are at least open to the notion of God as well as being top minds in the field of philosophy.

  • efavorite

    Truly – I thought I read this backwards, but see that you wrote it backwards. According to me, it should be:

    “Why is it okay for an theist to clamor about what he believes in regardless of the scenario but the atheist has to hide in a corner with his beliefs?

  • efavorite

    Ok, that’s two — what about the countless others you mention?

  • efavorite

    I thought God sent atheists to hell.

  • cs9243

    “The National Prayer Breakfast only bolsters the false notion that our nation is a Christian one ”
    Why do you say this is a false notion? This is a christian nation, majority religion is christian, the country was founded on christian principles. Non christians incluuding atheists amount to less than 10%..If a country wants to be truly secular it should stay away rom all religions completely. Even the dollar bill says “in God we trust”. What God it refers to? Buddhists and jains do not believe in any God.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Yeah, sorry Hemant, but if you choose to be Atheist, don’t expect others to stop experiencing, and expressing, their spiritual beliefs. Welcome to freedom baby!

  • DigitalQuaker

    Seriously flawed thinking JT93.
    The POTUS does not have to, nor should he, remove himself from his relegious beliefs. He simply cannot use the power of his executive office to support any particular relegious view over that of another.

  • DigitalQuaker

    It appears that you don’t really understand what it means to be a Christian. That’s ok, many people who self identify as Christian don’t understand it either.

  • DigitalQuaker

    You’re understanding of prayer is seriously flawed. There are many other forms of prayer besides intersessionary. Try to educate yourself before painting with such a broad brush.

  • DigitalQuaker

    That’s totally possible.
    It’s called enlightened self interest.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Who cares what Fox News thinks?
    Certainly no one who seeks a deeper understanding of important issues.

  • DigitalQuaker

    How is it devisive?
    And there are many people who are spiritual, but cannot identify with a particular faith tradition or religion.

    It really isn’t all about Atheists.

  • HGH Rampage

    We don’t care about pretend-land don’t worry man.

  • nkri401

    Join the club – what, there are about 300 orthodox and about 3000 denominations of Christianity?

    I exaggerate bit but the gist is there…

  • ThomasBaum


    You wrote, “I thought God sent atheists to hell.”

    God sends no one to hell, if one goes to hell, they will come to realize that they not only sent themself but that they built it themself.

    God, in God’s Plan, became One of us and won the “keys” to everyone’s hell by suffering everyone’s hell and will use these “keys” in due time, God’s Time.

  • nkri401

    Hindus do and for lot longer than Christians and Jew are not Christians, either…

    BTW, do you know what was the national motto as stated by the founding fathers? Hint, it’s not “In God we trust”…

  • DigitalQuaker

    And yet you’re posting here….
    Reality check for the Atheist in isle 7.

  • DigitalQuaker

    Wow, that statement shows even MORE (if that was possible) that you don’t get it. Being Christian doesn’t mean that we all have to see everything the same way. Heck, my religion doesn’t have creed, and yet I’m Christian.

    Try Wiki sometime before you post on stuff ya don’t know.

  • nkri401

    @ DQ,

    “Heck, my religion doesn’t have creed, and yet I’m Christian. ”

    Is this like “Heck, I eat meat but I’m still vegetarian?”

    Yea, it’s possible to show even MORE, how I know even less…

  • Olivia Jordan

    Our nation was founded on Christian principals whether anyone likes this fact or not.

  • Bob Beecher

    “…the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” — John Adams

    You gonna argue with our second U.S. President?

  • Rongoklunk

    Not true. 94% of members of The National Academy of Sciences are nonbelievers, and almost all cosmologists are too.
    Stephen Hawking the leading cosmologist writes in his book The Grand Design – that no God was needed in figuring out how existence began, it was all about chemistry and eons of time.
    And another rocket scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains on his website how man created Gods from what he calls “The Perimeter of Ignorance”, and he has an article there under that title. He explains that everything ancient man didn’t understand he attributed to a god. But in this modern scientific world it makes more sense to reject supernatural explanations than it does to actually buy into them without a scintilla of justification.

    A leap of faith was necessary even in ancient times, but these days it’s a leap too far from science and commonsense.Gods are mythical by definition, and you can’t show anything that contradicts that. Even Carl Sagan has written that he had no respect for simple belief. He wanted to KNOW – to FIND OUT, not to just blindly accept what he was told to accept – and believe what he was told to believe. That’s no way to get at what’s true. And he was right when he said about religious claims that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” And religion has none. And gods are mythical.

  • rfj1

    Everyone of you who “Agree” with this “Imagenay” ritual need to have your head examaned by a physologist or try to understand the difinition of “Physiology”. If you can comprehend that, then you are on your “Back” to reality and to the living instead of being “Trapped” in your ,,,”Imagenary religious,,”Fantasy(s)” and your robotic drone existence..There still is time to “Save” yourself, from,,,yourself. rfj1

  • Rongoklunk

    “Our nation was founded on Christian principles whether anyone likes it or not.”

    Well, so was The Inquisition. So was burning heretics alive. So was hundreds of years of wars, and so was whatever went on in the Christian torture chambers. It’s only in the last couple of centuries that religions have largely given up on violence and turned to compassion because they are no longer allowed to beat us, or burn us, or jail us because of our inability to believe their outrageously comic-book superstitions. Fire and Brimstone doesn’t work anymore. Now it’s all about LOVE, and how sweet holiness is. Lol. But it’s the same old BS in new clothes. And it still defies commonsense.

  • nkri401

    Our nation was also founded on slavery, genocide and coolies…

  • ThomasBaum

    Both should be able to express their beliefs concerning God, theistic or atheistic, but neither should be able to cram their beliefs down anyone else’s throats.

  • ThomasBaum

    Not just founded but built on.

  • jade_alpha

    As an atheist I believe in many things that are bigger than myself. You know, like whales.


    Christian principles like the oppression of women, genocide and slavery.

  • Launa Banauna

    I think it is a good start to mention secular Americans at this event. I don’t see it as second rate lip service at all. In fact I see it as a big F-you to the thiests who are probably surprised that Obama would mention ‘those of no faith’ and ‘secular Americans’ at all. Way to go President Obama!

  • Launa Banauna

    Our nation was NOT founded on Christian principles like it or not.