Obama's assertion no doubt comes as quite a surprise to the 62% of Americans who do, in fact, see America as a Christian nation, according to a new Newsweek poll. One might delicately note that's a higher percentage than that which voted for Obama himself.
The President is trying to slice the baloney very thinly here. Of course, America is not a Christian nation in the governmental sense (perhaps the only sense that's important to Obama?). The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of any official national religion (or the penalizing of anyone because of his/her religious faith or lack thereof), and rightly so. But otherwise, in a cultural, historical, and legal sense, America is very much a Christian (or Judeo-Christian) nation.
Our laws, our social mores and our history -- from the abolitionist movement to the temperance movement to the pro-life movement to the moral arguments for equality and dignity made over time by a variety of groups in America -- reflect the foundational role of Judeo-Christian morals and ethics in our national life. No serious scholar can deny the impact of religious belief here; only those with another agenda seek to dismiss or minimize it.
Rather than seeking to present to the Turks a radically different understanding of America than that embraced by a significant majority of Americans themselves, perhaps the President would have been more accurate -- and more honest -- if he had instead noted that respect and tolerance for all other PEACEFUL practicioners of any faith (or none) is a Judeo-Christian value that the United States cherishes, and by which it strives to live.