This is an ecumenical gathering, and Obama was precisely that, warmly acknowledging the different faiths assembled. On the other hand, Obama was so ecumenical that he never once mentioned “Jesus” or “Christ” or called himself a follower of Jesus Christ or a Christian. It wasn’t as if the president was pinched for text; this was a 2,000-word oration, with numerous figures mentioned.
The most common figure in this speech was Barack Obama. In a 17-minute address, one that included the word “humility,” Obama referred to himself 30 times. He thereby continued the brisk pace of at least one self-reference per minute on rapid display in his lengthy State of the Union address the previous week.
On the plus side, the president several times referred to “God,” including “God’s grace,” “God’s mercy,” and the phrase “for the grace of God go I.” He also used the word “Christian” once—in reference to the truly God-sent abolitionist Wilberforce. This section was excellent. Obama stated: “Remember William Wilberforce, whose Christian faith led him to seek slavery's abolition in Britain.”
Here was a poignant reminder by Obama, one the angry secular left—which voted for Obama stronger than almost any group (see “I’m Pagan and I Vote”)—needs to hear repeatedly, as it blames Christianity for every sin under the sun over the last 1,000 years. For Obama to highlight the indispensable role of Christians in ending slavery is a splendid rejoinder to the “God-Is-Not-Great” crowd. Bravo, Mr. President.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."