Was it wrong to mention Jesus at President Bush's inauguration?

This thread is inspired by an editorial I read in the Boston Globe. You can read the article at this link- http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/032/oped/Invoking_Jesus_at_the_inauguration+.shtml

It’s rather interesting when you think about it. Is it acceptable for Jesus to be referred to as “The Son” when closing a prayer but inappropriate when his name is mentioned directly?

If it is wrong for Jesus to be mentioned, would it also be wrong for Allah, Buddah, or any other deity to be mentioned directly in a prayer at an inauguration?

I tend to think that the President-elect has the full right to have whatever kind of prayer said at his inauguration. While this event is a national event, it is also his day, not ours. If the President is Chrisitan, let him have Jesus mentioned or if he is atheist, he doesn’t even need a prayer.

By the way, I do believe the President-elect has some say in what is said, since Billy Graham didn’t mention Jesus’ name directly at Clinton’s inaugurations, but Franklin Graham did at George W.'s.

It may be “his” day, but he’s our president. It’s one thing if the president-elect wants to attend a private religious ceremony that morning at the church, synagogue, coven, mosque, or temple of Satan of his choice. Since the inauguration is an official act whereby the president assumes office under the Constitution, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the inauguration to include religious rituals.

Some context would be nice.

The part of the inauguration that’s required by law has no mention of God. If Bush wants to swear on a Bible or thank God for his amazing luck in being George H. Bush’s son, or mention Jesus in his speech, that’s his call, he’s allowed to make private statements of that sort.

He got a fast start on possibly unconstitutional church/state mixups anyway, so why quibble? :slight_smile:

Concur with Rickjay.
As President, Bush isn’t allowed to do anything that tends to establish an official religion or infringes on the freedom of religions belief. However, as President, he is allowed to believe that Jesus exists and is god, and is allowed to express that opinion any time he wants to.


I’ll freely admit I’m letting my own personal biases color this post, but doesn’t it seem like G.W. is rubbing people’s faces in his Christianity (or rubbing his Christianity in people’s faces, whichever sounds better to you) when he grandstands like that? Granted, I was still in high school when his papa was elected, and I wasn’t terribly interested in politics or aware of current events, but I don’t remember there being so many church-state waves made during papa’s entire term (“atheists can’t be patriots” speech excepted), let alone in the first month.

Anyway, this kind of grandstanding, show-boating, whatever, seems to me to be more in line with what Jesus didn’t want (Matthew 6:5, don’t stand out in the open praying as if to say, “Look at me, I’m so good, I’m praying and you’re not, God loves me better!”). It just seems so… insincere, like the whole point is to say, “Look at me, godless commie liberal heathens, I won and you didn’t, now you’re gonna do things MY way!”

That’s just my $02/100.

I hope that’s now what you think, Gr8Kat, because I seriously doubt that Dubya is thinking that in the least. There are Christians who are too proud of their faith (in the wrong way, of course. There is obviously nothing wrong with being proud of your faith), but this is not part of the religion - it is a sin.

I’d be surprised if, looking back on the Inaguration speeches of some of our greatest, most honored Presidents, we were to find that most of them did NOT mention God, or perhaps even Jesus specifically.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him mentioning whatever he wants. We elected him, plain and simple, and he’s entitled to his opinion, same as we are.

It’s not just a question of George W. Bush mentioning how much he believes in God in his acceptance speech. It’s a question of having more than one Christian preacher deliver various “benedictions” and “invocations” during the ceremony. Now, the inauguration is “official” in one sense, but these days I believe they’re entirely funded by corporate interests–er, I mean private donors–so as far as SOCAS is concerned it’s a gray area at best. Constitutionally, the whole three-ring circus is irrelevant frippery. I’m quite certain that there’ll be ice skating in hell before the courts would look at a thing like this; the taxpayer-paid official chaplains for both houses of Congress are much more of an establishment of religion, or even (IMHO) having the National Motto be “In God We Trust”.

Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s appropriate or right to include religious rituals like this in the official inauguration of the highest elected official of a religiously diverse country with a secular Constitution which guarantees separation of church and state and religious freedom for all.

Mentioning God (in the general sense) is one thing; mentioning a particular god or faith (i.e., Jesus) is another. I believe that most inaugurations have references to “God,” but not to a particular one, which is where Dubya screwed up.

I must disagree here – Rehnquist et al voted for George, not the American people. There’s that other candidate who got 500,000+ more votes, remember?

A benediction and invocation at a formal ceremony are now “grandstanding” and “rubbing people’s face in it?”

Will some of you not be happy until any remote vestige of faith is removed from every public place or proceeding? Or every single thing that can be worshipped by anyone is listed, because Lord knows not mentioning all when mentioning one is being mean and hurtful and disrespectful to the unmentioned ones.

(Oh, shit, I said ‘Lord’ in that sentence above. Please also add Allah, Buddha, Satan, Thor, Ra, and Bea Arthur.)

sighs wistfully That would be nice.

I just question G.W.'s sincerity. Does he really feel that strongly, or was it just a show? Like I tried to say, I have a bias against the man. I read the article; maybe the author is right. Maybe if it had been Al Gore’s inauguration and the same prayer had been offered, people wouldn’t have been as mad. I guess that means we’re the real hypocrites, waiting to pounce on G.W.'s every fault, real or perceived, but willing to turn a blind eye to the same actions from ones we support.

But what was Bush, Sr.'s inauguration like? Did he have a similar benediction? Is it a family thing or a G.W. thing? If it’s a family thing, well, he’s just following in papa’s footsteps. But if it’s a G.W. thing…

Call me the hypocrite or the Pharisee, but I can’t help but remember seeing him on the news leaning over to Dick Cheney and calling a member of the press an “asshole,” not realizing the mic was on. I’ve always heard it said you can tell the real character of a man by what he does when he thinks no one is looking. I think the man lacks integrity. Unfortunately, the presidential office has lacked integrity for a long time, but I think it’s going to take more than G.W. wrapping himself up in the mantle of Jesus to restore it.

Er, what Pod said. What’s wrong with that, Milo?

What happened to ’ In God We trust’ ? Isn’t or should I say wasn’t that our countries motto? I don’t think he was wrong for thanking Jesus, after all, he wasn’t forcing his beliefs on anyone. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal if he said ’ I would like to thank my wife’, but he probably believes in her too.

A Canadian perspective if I may be allowed. At least you Americans aren’t saddled with a coronation ceremony administered by a state church. I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and state, however an inauguration primarily centres around a sacred oath the integrity of which can only be enhanced by the language and trappings of the faith of the president-elect. If David Bloomberg were to be elected the next president I would expect he would invoke authors of his philosophy in swearing to whatever presidents swear to when getting inaugurated. If I was American, I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all. However if David B. remained silent about his atheism and then promoted legislation removing special tax status for all religious organizations…

Ok. I understand where you’re coming from when you want to stop mandated prayer in school. I also understand you have First Amendment rights to freedom of/from religion. But I’m very curious as to why you seem to have an overwhelming paranoid fear of religion. Why does it scare you so much?

:confused: Huh? Where’d you get that from? I just want Milo to explain precisely why it’s a bad thing to remove expressions of faith from public places.

Whyever on earth would you think I’m afraid of religion?


For some legal definitions “public place” can be defined as “any place where [one’s conduct] may reasonably be expected to be viewed by people other than members of the actor’s family or household.” By this definition, a church or a privately owned shopping mall would certainly qualify. Obviously, churches are not being cleansed of all vestiges of faith. A private business can put up a nativity scene, or put a little fishie in its Yellow Pages listing—I might not do business with them, but the Dreaded Atheist Boycott doesn’t really inspire much terror down here in the Bible Belt, and it certainly wouldn’t be a SOCAS issue.

I would like to see religion removed (generally speaking) from public property. I don’t mean that children can’t pray in public schools if they so choose, or that religious groups shouldn’t have fair and equal access to genuine free speech forums like public parks. But I do get tired of official declarations being made on my behalf that I believe in God, when I don’t.

And you think those of us who are opposed to religious rituals in public ceremonies are fond of our “national motto” exactly why?

Again, we’re not just talking about the candidate expressing his personal beliefs in a speech. We’re talking about repeated choreographed religious rituals as part of a public ceremony to install this country’s highest elected official into office.

Well, for me, it’s not so much fear as it is irritation.

I posted this in an earlier thread, but that thread sort of sank like a stone thereafter, so I’m going to repost it here:

"ANNOUNCER: Well, it’s a cold, cloudy day here in Washington, D.C., but a fairly large crowd has turned out to see the Presidential Inauguration, including a number of protesters for various causes…

"ANNOUNCER: And the ceremonies are being kicked off by Paul Kurtz of the Council for Secular Humanism, giving the Opening Declaration That There is No God…
The Chief Justice of the United States: “Repeat after me: I do solemnly affirm…”
The President of the United States: “I do solemnly affirm…”
CJUS: “…that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…”
POTUS: “…that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…”
CJSU: “…and will to the best of my Ability…”
POTUS: “…and will to the best of my Ability…”
CJUS: “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
POTUS: “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
CJUS: “And I will do this without the help of any supernatural power.”
POTUS: “And I will do this without the help of any supernatural power.”
CJUS: “Congratulations, Mr. President.”

THE PRESIDENT: “My fellow Americans, yadda yadda yadda…trusting in our own, unaided reason, together we can make a better America…blah, blah, blah…since human beings cannot look beyond nature for help, we must look to one another…yakkity yakkity yakkity…I want to unite all Americans–rich or poor, black or white or brown, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, atheist or agnostic or secular humanist…yammer yammer yammer…And so, in conclusion, I am confident that a bright new day is dawning in this great nation of ours. There is no God!”

ANNOUNCER: The Robert G. Ingersoll High School Chorus will now present their rendition of ‘The Time To Be Happy Is Now’; they will be led by Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who arranged Ingersoll’s words and set them to music."
CHILDREN (singing): "The time to be happy is now.
"The place to be happy is here.
“The way to be happy is to make others happy…”

ANNOUNCER: “Finally, Ellen Johnson of American Atheists will present the Closing Declaration That There is No God.”

Do any of y’all begin to understand how atheists feel now?

BTW, In God We Trust doesn’t necessarily mean a CHRISTIAN God.
It just says, God, a very generic term, if I do say so myself.
I really don’t care who Bush prays to. (Although, with Dubya at the helm of our country, we need all the prayers we can get! :wink: )

rjung: Don’t get me started on that election bull - we have a system. Part of this system is the Electoral College - which Bush won. Baseball teams can dominate in the number of hits they get, but lose in total runs.

The rules can be argued against, but you can’t reasonably argue that it’s fair at all to complain about the rules AFTER you lose by them. That’s just poor form.

As for mentioning a specific God - he’s allowed to follow his religion in HIS speech. No screwup there, unless you maybe look at it from a popularity standpoint, in which case I’m not sure where I stand.

Re: prayers and benedictions as part of the official process: don’t we mention God in various government documents and such?

And heck: who set this system in place? I’d imagine it would be our founding fathers. I dunno about you, but I think they knew what they were doing. It does not surprise me, however, to see people disagree here…

…I got a “intellectual-liberal” type of vibe from this place early on.

Oh, and one more thing: lay off Dubya. We’ve heard the doomsday predictions, but now he’s in office, and I think we can all agree that he deserves at least one chance before he’s declared a screw-up.

The man did get a 1200 on his SATs - he’s not stupid, he’s in-articulate and lacks a strong vocabulary…big fargin deal.