The past week had seen a stir over the decision not to invite clergy to the remembrance ceremony marking the 10th year since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. While some decried it as secularism run amok, it seems the most influential of the persons invited to the podium at the event still managed to make spiritual statements.
President Barack Obama read from Psalm 46, though the Religion Clause accurately noted that nowhere did the White House indicate it was a Biblical Psalm, nor does it appear to have been a specific translation. (Indeed, one line appears to be from no translation.):
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble…
Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations…
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani read the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3, which is the famous “a time for everything” monologue.
Former President George Bush read Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 letter to the mother who lost five sons during the Civil War, which was probably made most famous by its use in Saving Private Ryan. As noted at the Christian Post, the letter ends
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Contrary to the assertions of some, the presence of “exclusive” religious reference by government officials does not favor or establish a religion.
Religious freedom — meaning the human liberty protected by the US Constitution — is not the absence of religion.