Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, responded to two recent citizen petitions asking that ‘In God We Trust’ be removed from the currency and ‘Under God’ be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. As I expected, DuBois makes a long reach to justify rejecting the petitions.
One recent method of citizen engagement that the Obama administration is trying is called “We the People” that harkens back to the Declaration of Independence and our current right to petition government for redress of grievances. The White House set up a website for people to create petitions on issues and the administration promised to respond if the petition got a certain number of “signatures”.
Two petitions were concerning ‘god’ used in the pledge and on the currency.
In a note titled “Religion in the Public Square” DuBois wrote:
Throughout our history, people of all faiths – as well as secular Americans – have played an important role in public life. And a robust dialogue about the role of religion in public life is an important part of our public discourse.
“A sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation – context matters.”
That’s why President Obama supports the use of the words “under God’ in our Pledge of Allegiance and “In God we Trust’ on our currency. These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life, while we continue to recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans. As the President said in his inaugural address, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.” We’re proud of that heritage, and the strength it brings to our great country.
Notice the disconnect? Here’s the red flag I saw:
These phrases represent the important role religion plays in American public life, while we continue to recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans.
DuBois is using the “celebrating our heritage” argument to justify something that on the face doesn’t “recognize and protect the rights of secular Americans”. Just because something was done a long time ago doesn’t mean it’s the right or moral thing to do now.
The Confederate flag “celebrates our heritage”. Does DuBois think that southern states should be allowed to fly the Confederate flag.
This is not the first time there have been church state issues with the Obama Administration. Why am I not surprised at the response to the petitions? I guess I expect a theist to try and justify Christian privilege by making their religious belief seem generic.
Again I point to my sports analogy about separation of church and state:
For the sake of this argument I am going to set it in a small town in Ohio.
Jake Smith lives in Buckeye Town with his family. He is a huge Ohio State University fan. He bleeds scarlet and gray.
In the past few years more people from Michigan have moved to Buckeye Town to the point that a majority of the town council is made up of University of Michigan fans.
One day a council member introduces a resolution requiring the Mayor to issue a University of Michigan Day proclamation. It passes by a wide a margin and the mayor issues the proclamation.
How do you think Jake Smith feels about his government now? Alienation? Second class status?
Now you know how non-Christians and non-believers feel when the government supports Christian privilege.
It is NOT the government’s job to be a religious cheerleader just as it is not the job of the Buckeye Town council to be Michigan cheerleaders.
Besides doing things like favoring Christian privilege violates the Golden Rule.
And that is why DuBois’ response is unacceptable and an insult to those who want a secular government.
[H/T to theperplexedobserver for the heads up]