Why has President Barack Obama on at least two occasions told specifically Muslim audiences that America is a nation of -- among other things -- "non-believers"?
The Pledge of Allegiance says America is one nation under God, our national motto says in God we trust, the Declaration of Independence says we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights and since the time of George Washington our presidents have placed their left hands on the Bible as they raise their right hands and swear to defend our Constitution.
The Census Bureau's official Statistical Abstract of the United States says a miniscule 0.7 percent of American adults -- or 1,621,000 out of 228,182,000 -- are atheists.
If you accept the Pew Hispanic Center's March 2005 estimate that there were 11 million illegal aliens in the United States back then -- and assume for the sake of argument there are still roughly that many today after another half decade of unsecured borders -- then a person randomly passing you on an American street is about seven times more likely to be a foreign national illegally residing here than an atheist.
If representation in the resident population is the measure, than it is more plausible to say America is a nation of foreigners than to say America is a nation of non-believers.
Yet President Obama has virtually made a mantra of saying that Americans are, among other things, "non-believers."
In his inaugural address, Obama said, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers."
A week after his inauguration, in an interview with Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language television network based in the United Arab Emirates, Obama said: "So what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I have come to understand is that regardless of your faith -- and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians and non-believers -- regardless of your faith, people have certain common hopes and common dreams."
On Nov. 7, 2009, four days before Veterans Day and two days after U.S. Army psychiatrist and radical Muslim terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan murdered 12 U.S. troops and one civilian and wounded 29 others at Fort Hood, Obama took pains to publicly state his belief that the American veterans who fought in Muslim territory at Ramadi, Iraq, and Kandahar, Afghanistan, included "non-believers."
"In tribute to those who fell at Ft. Hood, I've ordered flags flying over the White House and other federal buildings to be lowered to half-staff from now until Veterans Day next Wednesday," Obama said in his weekly address. "Veterans Day is our chance to honor those Americans who've served on battlefields from Lexington to Antietam, Normandy to Manila, Inchon to Khe Sanh, Ramadi to Kandahar. They are Americans of every race, faith and station. They are Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers."
On Aug. 13, hosting an Iftar dinner for Muslim guests at the White House, Obama not only suggested that he approved the building of a mosque next door to Ground Zero in New York, but he also said this: "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. "
Is Obama's repeated declaration -- including to Muslim audiences -- that America is, among other things, a nation of "non-believers" truly accurate? Does it comport with Obama's professed strategy of reaching out to the Islamic world and improving America's standing there by increasing understanding of our true nature as a nation?
The answers are: No and no.
In America, we have no established religion, and the First Amendment guarantees its free exercise, but we are and always have been an expressly God-fearing nation.
Thomas Jefferson, who wrote of our God-given rights in the Declaration, later said in his "Notes on the State of Virginia": "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?"
The Census Bureau does not ask Americans their denomination, but relies on the American Religious Identification Survey, which interviewed 54,461 American adults in 2008, to estimate the nation's religious demographics. ARIS discovered that 76 percent of Americans said they were Christians, 1.2 percent said they were Jewish and 0.6 percent said they were Muslims.
Fifteen percent said they did not affiliate with a religion -- which is not an indicator of disbelief in God. Only 0.9 percent said they were agnostic and only 0.7 percent said they were atheists. Obama's insistence on giving the 0.7 percent atheist population equivalent status in his public declarations to America's Christians and Jews, whose religious tradition is central to our nation's worldview and heritage, may help promote non-belief in the United States, but it surely does not promote the American cause in the Islamic world -- where our radical Muslim enemies, starting with al-Qaida, falsely claim Americans are infidels.
Certainly, Obama is not purposefully seeking to diminish America's standing in the Muslim world. But his words -- on their face -- seek to diminish God's standing in America.