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The (g)odless Inaugural Prayer

Time to ask if our country has crossed the spiritual Rubicon?

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

January 22, 2013 - 9:00 am

And it became more confusing from there:

As we sing the words of belief, “this is my country,” let us act upon the meaning that everyone is included. May the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of every woman, man, boy and girl be honored. May all your people, especially the least of these, flourish in our blessed nation.

To whom is this prayer directed? Evers-Williams still hasn’t given any indication, other than to begin simply with “America, comma.” And again, near the end of the speech, she quotes the words of a hymn and appears to be addressing “America” rather than a deity:

There’s something within me that holds the reins. There’s something within me that banishes pain. There’s something within me I cannot explain. But all I know America, there is something within. There is something within.

Finally, about halfway through the speech, after invoking the “spirit of our ancestors” in the civil rights movement, Evers-Williams gives a quick shout-out to… something:

One hundred fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of disenfranchised [votes] to today’s expression of a more perfect union. We ask, too, almighty that where our paths seem blanketed by [throngs] of oppression and riddle by pangs of despair we ask for your guidance toward the light of deliverance. And that the vision of those that came before us and dreamed of this day, that we recognize that their visions still inspire us. [emphasis added]

We aren’t told if it’s the “almighty” spirit of the ancestors or the “Almighty and all-merciful Lord, by Whom all powers and authorities are ordained,” the deity invoked by the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church at President Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. Even so, she looks to the “visions of those that came before us” in the civil rights movement for inspiration rather than the “almighty.”

Mid-speech it seems that Evers-Williams went out of her way to exclude God when she recited a section from the Pledge of Allegiance, omitting the words “under God”:

We now stand beneath the shadow nation’s Capitol whose golden dome reflects the unity and democracy of one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Like President Obama has done on numerous occasions, Evers-Williams engaged in selective editing to remove religious references.

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