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Only in the United States – and perhaps Saudi Arabia – would this make headlines:
Obama prays for envoy Holbrooke’s recovery
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Saturday night called Richard Holbrooke “a towering figure in American foreign policy” and said he is praying for the critically ill diplomat’s recovery. …
“Richard Holbrooke is a towering figure in American foreign policy, a critical member of my Afghanistan and Pakistan team, and a tireless public servant who has won the admiration of the American people and people around the world,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama said he had spoken to Holbrooke’s wife, Kati, on Saturday “and told her that Michelle and I are praying for Richard.”
“We continue to pray for his recovery, and support his family in this difficult time,” said the president.
Let’s ignore for a moment Obama’s dubious appraisal of the war-mongering Holbrooke as “a towering figure in American foreign policy,” and focus instead on our nation’s morbid fascination with the intermingling of politics and religion.
First and foremost, it should be stated that perhaps the most absurd aspect of this “story” is the fact that Obama mentioned prayer at all – not just once, mind you, but at least twice. In spite of the media’s usual insistence that Obama is a closet Muslim, the evidence suggests that Obama is most likely an atheist – or at the very least agnostic. His brilliant statement during the 2008 primaries about bitter people clinging to guns and religion is hardly appropriate for a fervent believer.
Like most politicians, it is highly probable that the Obamas maintain a facade of religious adherence merely because it is a fundamental prerequisite to being elected. The disturbing reality, as Dawkins and others have demonstrated, is that Americans simply will not vote for an atheist – which speaks volumes for who we are as a nation. Americans are still hugely prejudiced people, and though our biases and bigotry may be begrudgingly hidden behind a thin veneer of political correctness, there are still myriad doors that remain closed for those who are not of the accepted race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
Still, as much as I despise Obama for other reasons (namely, his conservative tendencies), I do not begrudge him for pretending to be Christian. It is, regrettably, a necessary part of the game. But where I take issue is with a society that cares so deeply about such trivial issues, and a mainstream corporatist media which does everything to reinforce that pettiness.
Our founding fathers stipulated a separation between church and state for good reason. While I firmly believe an open atheist would make the best elected official, the religious inclinations of our political leaders should have no role in any part of the process – both during the election and afterwards. Trumpeting one’s religious beliefs should at the very least be considered a grave taboo for those in office, and in that respect the mainstream media should be shaming Obama rather than treating his placations as a respectable, newsworthy event.