This is a day that should gratify the heart of anyone fortunate enough in the Providence of God to be born and live in this incredible country. Not only have we seen once again the peaceful transfer of power between an incoming and outgoing presidential administration–something that has been taking place for almost a quarter of a millennium–we have witnessed the inauguration of our nation’s first African-American president.
I could not help but think as I viewed the event on television, with the camera shots that looked out from the Capitol’s west portico toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial beyond it, of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in 1963.
Between that speech in 1963 and President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 (a relatively short time historically speaking–46 years, considerably less than most Americans’ lifetimes), our country has struggled successfully to live out and fulfill once again the promises of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence: an unshakeable belief “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
All Americans, whether they voted for President Obama or not, should take time to express gratitude to the Almighty that our nation has been able to overcome much of its racist past and move even closer to Dr. King’s dream that ours would be a country where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I was struck by the muscularity of President Obama’s inaugural speech, particularly in its assertions about national security and the defeat of worldwide terrorism and in its strong affirmation of the market as an extraordinary engine for creating wealth and opportunity.
Finally, as a Southern Baptist Christian, I am grateful but not surprised that my fellow Southern Baptist Rick Warren gave an invocation prayer that any evangelical Christian would have been extremely comfortable praying–it was inclusive, generous, but faithful.
Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.