A 42-year tradition at the Treasure Valley God and Country Festival in Nampa, Idaho ended this weekend when the Pentagon declined a request for a military flyover in honor of our veterans due to the event’s emphasis on Christianity. Prior to an address by President Obama at Georgetown University in April, the White House requested that all university signage and symbols behind the stage be covered, presumably to be consistent with what had been done for other policy speeches. And while he did issue a traditional Presidential proclamation marking the National Day of Prayer, President Obama chose not to continue the Bush administration tradition of holding a formal observance in the East Room of the White House, nor did he send an official executive branch representative to the capitol hill ceremony as has been done since 1952.
Our secular President has stated that “we are not a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.” Some feel the actions and words of the President disrespect those of faith, while others who are fervent about the separation of church and state celebrate his emphasis of religious pluralism, including his acknowledgement of nonbelievers.
Amendment I to the United States Constitution says, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As strictly interpreted this prohibits our Federal government from promoting any one religion or faith over another, far from a complete separation of church and state. Have we now become a secular nation that no longer acknowledges the writings of our founding fathers, who felt it was important to allow recognition and celebration of our religious beliefs?