How Can I Explain?
(from American Atheists)
December 8, 1996
President Clinton has become adroit at wrapping himself in an aura of religiosity, and no photo opportunity of Bill and Hillary strolling into or out of church (clutching Bibles in hand) goes unexploited. The President's gushing goddism, though, prompted a letter from a New Orleans reader and American Atheists member, Ann Nunn:
William Jefferson Clinton, President
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
For the most part, I enjoyed your Thanksgiving radio address, and your conduct of the office in general makes me glad that I voted for you in the last two presidential elections.
However, as a high school teacher of American history and government with responsibilities for teaching youngsters about the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, I am puzzled by your habit of using the presidential pulpit to promote religion. You said,
"So, as we set our sights on a joyous holiday season, let us all pledge by our devotion to God and family and community to keep the spirit of Thanksgiving alive all year long."
When you speak in your official capacity as President of the United States, as you do in these radio addresses, should you be using your office to urge citizens to "pledge by our devotion to God"? This seems to me to be a flagrant promotion of religion by a government official in direct disregard of the First Amendment prohibition, and frankly, I am at a loss about how to explain this to my students except to say that somehow you feel justified in ignoring the Constitution, which you are sworn to uphold on this point.
If you have some other explanation, would you please inform me so that I can pass it along?
(Reprinted courtesy of American Atheists)
[This file used to be tagged to another letters file]
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