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.
God did make an appearance, however, in the president’s 2012 Thanksgiving proclamation.
“Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence,” the proclamation reads.
In his address, the president also made mention of God when speaking of the victims and first responders in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“When our brothers and sisters are in need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work – not for the recognition or the reward, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Obama said, repeating an oft-cited campaign trail line, often used to promote a tax hike. “Because there but for the grace of God go I. And because here in America, we rise or fall together, as one nation and one people.”
The mention of God comes just over two months after the Democratic National Convention narrowly voted to not strike God’s name from the party’s platform.
The official proclamation is lower-profile than the address, and the neglect to verbally thank God — as the original celebrators of Thanksgiving convened to do — angered some conservatives.
“Yet again, President Obama’s Thanksgiving message eschewed any direct reference to thanking God, making this the fourth straight year in which the president of the United States has ignored the central message of the holiday in favor of political grandstanding,” the conservative Big Government reported. “This year, Obama’s central message was that now that he’s been re-elected, Americans should agree with all of his policies. His unity routine sounds strangely empty after a campaign in which he focused on dividing Americans.”
“Obama’s lack of overt religiosity has been a source of controversy,” the pro-life LifeSiteNews reported, “with polls consistently showing that a large number of Americans are unaware that Obama is a Christian, or doubt the claim.”
The president has a long history of upsetting the religious right, and even some in his own party. Incidents include having a cross removed from the allegedly Catholic Georgetown University while he delivered a speech there; infrequent church attendance; an overtly pro-abortion presidential campaign and open support for gay marriage.
But conservatives aren’t the only people the president upset on Thanksgiving. Soon, he may hear from animal rights activists. (RELATED: Butterball no longer halal)