President Barack Obama has been in office for 20 days and some supporters have just found the first thing they don’t agree with him on. On Friday, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which will work with religious and secular organizations to create a strategy for economic recovery. He also created a President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, consisting of 25 religious and secular leaders. So far, only 15 people have been named, with most of them being Christian and with one glaring omission in the line up – no Muslim. Or for that matter, no Hindus, no Buddhists, and no one of particularly liberal leaning, just the same tired conservative to middle-of-the-road Evangelical Christians.
The US Muslim community has between five and eight million members (this is as accurate a number as can be predicted) so surely they should be represented too? Of course, they may be named in the next round of ten, but it seems to me it would have been prudent to name a Muslim leader in the first round. That would show a definite plan of action towards the Muslim community and not make them feel like they’re just an after thought.
Leaders from World Vision, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Southern Baptist Convention, Catholic Charities, Mexican American Cultural Center, African Methodist Episcopal Center and a whole lot more were included – but no Muslims. Buddhists too are becoming a large part of American life (conservative estimates number them at around 3.5 to 5 million, with more and more people becoming Buddhist every year), but they’re not represented either. Same thing for Hindus, Agnostics and Atheists (Agnostics and Atheists were at more than 3 million in 2004 figures)
This was all announced at the National Prayer Breakfast, which is another thing many Americans don’t understand about the US government. Why do they even have a National Prayer Breakfast? We always hear the United States has separation of church and state, yet most of us have never seen that happen. At the National Prayer Breakfast, four different prayers were given and there was a musical performance by Christian rock group, Casting Crowns. Again, separation of church and state? No, it’s not.
In his speech, President Obama may have spoken about Muslims and Hindus, Jews and Buddhists, but much of his speech spoke about ‘religion’ and the words he used and the sentiment spoken of smells of nothing but Christianity. As an atheist, one who is supposedly represented by this President, I find that very disappointing.
Street Prophets: Faith and Politics – The More I Hear About The President’s Faith Advisory Council, The Less I Like It
White House Blog –This Is My Hope, This Is My Prayer
White House Blog –Working With Faith