During his fourth Thanksgiving presidential address, President Barack Obama referenced the recent, long and bruising campaign season, urged the country to unite behind his administration and, for the fourth year running, neglected to offer verbal thanks to God.
“As a nation, we’ve just emerged from a campaign season that was passionate, noisy, and vital to our democracy,” Obama said. “But it also required us to make choices – and sometimes those choices led us to focus on what sets us apart instead of what ties us together; on what candidate we support instead of what country we belong to.”
“Thanksgiving,” he continued, “is a chance to put it all in perspective – to remember that, despite our differences, we are, and always will be, Americans first and foremost.”
The president’s call to unite behind his administration follows a bitter election, in which his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, won independents 50 to 45 percent, and whites 59 to 39 percent.
At the same time, while Democrats made gains in both the House and the Senate, the GOP held control of Congress. Speaker of the House John Boehner has since indicated that he is willing to work with the president, especially regarding the Jan. 1, 2013 fiscal cliff, when a combination of draconian spending cuts and massive tax hikes will hit the sluggish U.S. economy.
Additionally, for the fourth year in a row, the president did not explicitly thank God, raising the ire of conservatives.
“Today we give thanks for blessings that are all too rare in this world,” Obama said. “The ability to spend time with the ones we love; to say what we want; to worship as we please; to know that there are brave men and women defending our freedom around the globe; and to look our children in the eye and tell them that, here in America, no dream is too big if they’re willing to work for it.”
The president’s mention of the freedom “to worship as we please” could be seen as a challenge to conservatives and the Catholic Church, both of which have accused his administration of waging a war on religious freedom. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — an organization that has often angered conservative Catholics for its left-wing rhetoric — held a week of Masses, culminating in a Wednesday afternoon, July 4 Mass at the National Basilica, where 5,000 Catholics overflowed the 3,500-seat basilica.
American schools teach that the Pilgrims, who held the first Thanksgiving, fled to America from England to flee religious persecution.
Catholics, however, do not vote as a coherent bloc.