State of the Union


BOB ABERNETHY, host: President Obama explicitly singled out US Muslims in his State of the Union address Tuesday (January 25), saying they are part of the American family. Throughout his speech, the president called for a new era of cooperation. Several times, he noted the nation’s religious diversity:

President Obama: “We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed.”

ABERNETHY: Our managing editor, Kim Lawton, has been following religious reaction to the president’s address.

post01-stateoftheunionKIM LAWTON, managing editor: I actually moderated a conversation for our Web site with religious people giving their reactions to the address. I’ve heard from and talked to many others, and a lot of their reaction did split in predictable partisan lines. Those who support the president were more positive; those who don’t weren’t. That was predictable. But one thing that struck me was among conservatives and liberals I heard disappointment that there wasn’t more attention on the poor. The president never actually said “the poor,” but when he was talking about all of the budget problems and possible cuts, he did mention he didn’t want to do that on the backs of the most vulnerable in the nation. But this is an area that a lot of faith-based groups are concerned about when we’re talking about making big cuts and dealing with that. How is that going to affect the poor and the marginalized? And so those are going to be some big battles coming.

ABERNEHTY: “The least of these.”

LAWTON: Exactly.

ABERNETHY: And what about the language?

LAWTON: Well, I heard some disappointment from many fronts, again both liberals and conservatives, that the president didn’t use more moral language, spiritual and moral terms, even when he was talking about some of the problems facing the nation. He didn’t say it’s the right thing to do to balance the budget or to be accountable or responsible for your money. He didn’t talk about that when he was talking about clean energy. He didn’t say “caring for the environment,” which is language a lot of faith groups like to hear. Some people say, well, this is a State of the Union address. It’s a legislative package, and that’s not the place for that kind of language. Certainly the president used a lot of theological language in his Tucson speech, but for many faith people, they like to hear that kind of language in every speech, and they did find that missing.

ABERNETHY: And beyond language, important as that is, is a kind of point of view. Yes, we need a lot more attention to math and science, but no less attention to poetry and preaching and art—all the arts and all the humanities part of it.

LAWTON: Well, a lot of faith communities do talk about some of those intangible things. What makes America great? Is it just economy or military? Is there something else, something deeper, something that more perhaps reflects the soul of the nation? And I do think that for a lot of faith-based groups they think that those kinds of things should be included in a State of the Union.

ABERNETHY: More than what just can be measured. Kim Lawton, many thanks.

  • John Feltman

    President Obama’s legislative actions confirming his views on Abortion and, more importantly, his proclaimed support of late-term abortion and the killing of the fetuses that survive the procedure,make him a moral
    incompetent by any Christian standard. His support of Roe Vs Wade(abortion on demand for any reason),50 million abortions in 40 years, goes far beyond medical need and compassionate judgement. And any statements that he makes concerning Religious beliefs,doctrine or creed are very suspect ,disengenuous and politically motivated. Americans share a nation with others in a common bond as is so eloquently stated in the Preample of the Constitution. We are a diverse nation of people and Religions beliefs,we share a common purpose not a common creed. President Obama spoke in generalities. He spoke of investments in our educational system by hiring more teachers, throwing more money at a failed paradigm and not addressing
    some of the real causes of the need for these investments. Things like outrageous mandated contributions to teachers pension funds that have robbed our children of the education they need to compete in today’s world. And the need for aptitude testing that will help parents and their children to make the right decisions about what educational path they should pursue. And the president spoke of our energy needs in terms of removing subsidies from oil companies(what took him so long?), and satisfying 80 % of our energy needs through renewable energy resources. Sounds good but he never addressed the flawed and corrupted pricing mechanism (The Futures Market) that has made a corrupted gambling mechanism (at 5% Margin requirements) the pricing determiner of Crude Oil. A mechanism that has resulted in Crude prices being about 40% higher than they should be. And at $90/barrel (including ancillary price increases), Americans are paying about 1 trillion/year more than they should be for gasoline ,heating oil,and other hydrocarbon by-products. President Obama stated that his budget freeze would save $500 Billion in 10 years. He could save that in 6 months if he addressed the crude pricing mechanism problem. The lack of real administrative intelligence in our government is becoming more evident everyday. And the price of all this is beyond comprehension right now. But ,unless our problems are addressed with substance over the next few months, this nation will spiral through stagflation into an economic and social decline that will equal our great depression.

  • Hugh (Bart) Vincelette

    I am amazed at the reported reactions of those most opposed to President Obama. The religious right have always seemed to be most adamantly opposed to paying the levels of taxes needed to maintain an adequate social safety net. The same holds true for “caring for the environment”, which has usually been derided as meaning alarmist programs that would eliminate jobs & impact the economy.In six decades on the planet, I cannot recall any elected official so relentlessly monitored to make sure he’s referencing god often enough. Not to be indelicate; but those conservatives that appear to be informed & educated approach the man as if he’s some apprentice black youg’un who will always need guidance & can’t ever really be expected to make mature decisions, …..& should be expected to show some degree of deference to conservative Christians with considerably less integumental melanin.