Diana Butler Bass writing in the Washington Post analyses the President’s Inaugural Speech and concludes we are hearing someone articulate the new US religion:
In the days following President Obama’s inauguration address, commentators across the political spectrum have made much about how it overtly expressed a progressive agenda.
It was not only a politically progressive speech, however, it was a masterwork of progressive theology: a public sermon on the meaning of America, a creedal statement and a call to practice that faith in the world. It was an expression of a genuinely pluralistic America, the first inaugural address of a new sort of American civil spirituality.
President Obama is a Christian but made few, if any, direct appeals to religion during his recent campaign. As president, he has a new historical problem when it comes to speaking of faith. Through the twentieth century, presidents were able to craft a generally religious language that addressed America’s three most influential groups-Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. When President Kennedy delivered his inaugural address, it was considered the best public sermon in this tradition of American civil religion…. To call the American people into a journey is both a spiritual and political invitation toward new understanding of who we are and who we might be. To President Obama, the appeal is a Christian one, but also one shared and understood by others. It is both specific and open at the same time.
In the second section of the speech, President Obama articulated six beliefs of a spiritual and political, as well as inclusive and pluralistic, creed:
1) We believe in community;
2) We believe in shared prosperity;
3) We believe in mutual care of one another;
4) We believe in stewardship of the Earth;
5) We believe in peacemaking; and
6) We believe in equality and human rights.
Each one of these creedal statements was backed by subtle references to Hebrew or Christian scriptures, an occasional historical reference to a noted sermon or hymn, as well as more general appeals to God or divine favor.
Read all Bass’ article here.