The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust has welcomed the humanistic agenda set out by President Obama in his inauguration speech, in which he called for a more inclusive and progressive America. Making a commitment to “restore science to its rightful place”, Barack Obama said: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers”, and spoke of “our common humanity.”
George Broadhead, the PTT’s secretary, said: “This humanistic agenda which acknowledges non-believers in the American population, and by implication their status on a par with religionists, is very encouraging for humanists worldwide. It is especially encouraging after the heavily pro-religious agenda espoused by former presidents, notably George W Bush.
“We were also very encouraged by the statements made by Mr Obama in his books The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father. In the former, he writes: “I was not raised in a religious household…. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, [my mother] worked mightily to instil in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice. Most of all, she possessed an abiding sense of wonder, a reverence for life and its precious, transitory nature…. Given the increasing diversity of America’s population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers.”
In Dreams from My Father, Mr Obama writes that his mother stood alone in her community as a “witness for secular humanism”.
Mr Broadhead commented: “You don’t have to adhere to supernatural beliefs to lead happy and fulfilled lives and show concern and compassion for your fellow human beings. It is very gratifying to learn that the new President recognises this.
“It is also gratifying that he has recognised, as humanists do, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexal and transgendered people.”
Under the heading ‘Civil Rights’ the new administration sets out its agenda for the LGBT community on the White House website. It begins with a quote from a speech Barack Obama gave in June 2007:
“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”
Mr Broadhead said: “Last, but not least, we humanists welcome Mr Obama’s decision to remove the Bush administration’s ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information.
“The new president has our very best wishes in his efforts to tackle the mammoth tasks he faces”, Mr Broadhead concluded.