Check out this clip from Wednesday night’s episode of “The Daily Show” in which Jon Stewart analyzes (in his own way, of course) Obama’s Tuesday night Gulf Speech. Of particular interest, I think, is the fourth minute when he begins to look at the President’s use of religious language. Sure, Stewart interprets Obama’s assurance that there is a hand guiding us as “May God have mercy on our souls” and “freaky talk,” but keep watching.

It gets really interesting when he shows clips of Fox News in which Gretchen Carlson says that “some people” might think that calling out to God in this situation is “disingenuous coming from a president who doesn’t go to church on a regular basis.” To this, Stewart responds, “You must really hate this guy.”

But it gets worse, a clip from the previous day, before Obama’s speech, from the same Fox News show has Carlson insisting that “it might be a good idea to ask for a bit of divine intervention as to how we’re going to fix this whole leak.”

A number of other bloggers and pundits have commented on the President’s call to God, including his concluding remarks about “blessing the fleet.” Sally Quinn, at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog remarked, and I agree, that this was the point at which Obama seemed most “earnest about something he truly believed.” She also noticed that “gone were his usual assurances that he was directing his words to people of no faith as well.”

Three analyses, three very different conclusions.

I don’t really have anything to add to all this, beyond just pointing it out and noticing, as I think we all should continue to do, that no matter who is president, or what the issue is, religion will continue to play a major role in American politics and civic life. This being the case, those of us who notice it and try to make sense of it need to stay open, aware and analytical. Or, if that seems too difficult, watch what Gretchen Carlson does and do the opposite.

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Jonathan D. Fitzgerald

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