(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
Several well-known conservatives spoke out against President Barack Obama on Tuesday after he left out the words "under God" from a reading of the Gettysburg Address.
"After five years of tearing down religious liberty, it is neither surprising nor unexpected that President Obama disregarded 'under God' when reciting the Gettysburg Address," said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, in a statement. "He has certainly failed to acknowledge God and Biblical values throughout his presidency."
Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, said the omission points to the president's disrespectful attitude toward the Christian faith.
"Obama's omission of 'under God' is more evidence of his anti-Christian bigotry. He honors Islam but disrespects Christianity," tweeted Fischer.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also took to Twitter to criticize the omission.
"Lincoln added 'Under God' as he was looking out over the battlefield. why would obama (sic) remove?" wrote Gingrich.
Obama's rendition of the speech was filmed as a part of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' Learn the Address initiative, which encourages Americans to make video recordings of themselves reading or reciting the speech.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president simply read a version of the address provided by Burns, who he described as a "noted Civil War scholar," according to CBS News. More specifically, Obama read the text as it appears in the Nicolay Copy – the earliest known draft of the speech – which does not contain the phrase "under God."
Nathan Raab, a historical consultant and vice president of The Raab Collection, said in an article for Forbes that there are slight differences between each of the five known drafts of the Gettysburg Address.
"In the later Bliss Copy, [Lincoln] added the words 'under God' after 'this nation.' Though the earlier drafts do not mention this, eye-witnesses report he spoke it as well," wrote Raab. "The speech he gave may have been different, though perhaps only slightly, from any of the known drafts. But the bottom line is that there is no definitive text of the words he spoke that day."
Raab says Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, stated that although the Bliss Copy was finalized after the address was delivered, his father considered it to be the final version of the speech.
Tuesday marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which Lincoln delivered during the dedication ceremony of Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa., on Nov. 19, 1863.
Among the celebrities and public figures who can be seen saying the famous speech on the Learn the Address website are former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who all said the phrase, "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."