Angry reactions are pouring in from across America and beyond after President Barack Obama chose not to thank God but referred to “luck” during his Thanksgiving address in defiance of the holiday tradition’s purpose as established by President George Washington in 1789.
Obama omitted religious references in his three-minute speech although Thanksgiving is “a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God,” said Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes.
“The president said his family was ‘reflecting on how truly lucky we are,’” he added. “For many Americans, though, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how blessed and thankful they are.”
In his speech, Obama said his family would spend the day “eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we are.”
“Somebody ought to remind Obama that when Americans sit down around a meal today and give thanks, they give thanks to God,” said The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s columnist Sherman Frederick.
Proclaiming the first national day of public thanksgiving, George Washington, America’s first president who also presided over the writing of the Constitution, said, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor … a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God …”
Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro was harsher in criticizing the president. “Unreal that Obama doesn’t mention God in Thanksgiving message,” reads his tweet. “Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?”
Britain’s Daily Mail also reported on Obama’s omission. “Any acknowledgement of a spiritual element to the holiday was conspicuousness by its absence, as the president called the festival ‘a celebration of community,’” it said.
Notably, Obama thanked God in his written proclamation before Thanksgiving. “As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives,” he wrote. “Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.”
The president also thanked God explicitly in his address in 2010 and 2009. “Today, like millions of other families across America, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will sit down to share a Thanksgiving filled with family and friends – and a few helpings of food and football, too,” Obama said in his Thanksgiving address last year. “And just as folks have done in every Thanksgiving since the first, we’ll spend some time taking stock of what we’re thankful for: the God-given bounty of America, and the blessings of one another.”
Some find criticism of Obama misleading. “Wouldn’t it be nice if the GOP cared as much about jobs as they do about stuff like whether Prez said God in a speech?” tweeted Arianna Huffington.
ABC News pointed out that three of the GOP presidential candidates – former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum – also omitted God in the Thanksgiving statements they issued.