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Obama's Small Concession to Atheists Sets off a Firestorm of Debate

The author of our recent piece calling out Obama for all the references to God at the inauguration responds to AlterNet readers.

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But other commenters disagree.

Philip Newton writes:

President Obama is a Christian. He believes in God. He chose a pastor to speak who also believes in God.

Imagine that.

The writer of this article doesn't like a Christian president talking about God.

It wasn't her inauguration -- or yours.

Tell you what -- when you get elected president, you can cut out all the God crap.

Sailor50 doesn't buy that argument, pointing out that the inaugural's religious ceremonies had little to do with Obama's personal beliefs:

Most non-believers like myself have a very strong suspicion that Obama is too smart to believe in any supernatural deities. And he is wise enough to know that he couldn't get elected dog catcher if he didn't publicly profess that he is as stupid as the true believers are. We long for the day that humans everywhere will get over their childlike superstitions and, thus, their divisive "them vs. us" attitudes.

Lilykins also argues that forcing religion into public life fosters an "us vs. them" attitude:

… Even though other religions were mentioned, there was no doubt who they believe this country belongs to: Christians.

We will never have peace or equality as long as a religion dominates and claims our land as theirs alone. If anyone in America thinks there is actually is a separation between church and state, they must be blind and deaf. In my opinion, it's only a matter of time before America starts criminalizing "non-believers."

But several commenters make the claim that atheists' denunciation of religion is over the top, and is in itself divisive:

Prophit writes:

Didn't they have others not of a Christian faith there as well? I heard they did who also gave prayers??

I am amazed at the paranoia that is evident in those who do not believe in God. The fear level is palpable.

What do you think is going to happen if prayers are said for the 93 percent of Americans who believe in God??? Do you think they are going to come for you??? Do you think you will be forced to believe in God?

I have no problem with those who believe in any religion or with those who are atheists, and they can say, in a free country, whatever the hell they want to say, and it doesn't affect me at all. So, how is this bad for you? How does this justify repressing free speech because "you are uncomfortable with it" ... my goodness.

Pilgrim also writes that often atheists undermine their arguments by denigrating the faith of others:

Why can't atheists keep their incessant whining to themselves instead of continuously denigrating believers who outnumber them?

I personally don't give a hoot what atheists believe, and I wish they would just shut up and stop belittling those who don't see things the way they do.

Things are not going to change because of their continuous grousing and ridiculing.

2thepoint points out that the religious ceremonies in the inauguration are harmless:

Atheists -- chill out. No one asked that you believe in anything. This has been a tradition that has taken place as long as we have been electing presidents.

First, the nation is not an atheist's nation. Most of the nation believes in a god. And 15 percent of the nation are atheist's?????? sounds questionable!

Second, it's predominately a Christian nation or a nation of Christians -- did anyone pick up the "Our Father."

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