President Barack Obama has burnished his Christian credentials, courted Jewish support and preached outreach toward Muslims. On Friday, his administration will host a group that fits none of the above: America’s nonbelievers.
The president isn’t expected to make an appearance at the meeting with the Secular Coalition for America or to unveil any new policy as a result of it.
Instead, several administration officials will sit down quietly for a morning meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus with about 60 workhorses from the coalition’s 10 member groups, including the American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism. Tina Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and representatives from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments will participate.
Coalition leaders are billing their visit as an important meeting between a presidential administration and the “nontheist” community.
The Secular Coalition for America called the meeting “the first time in history a presidential administration has met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community.”
The Catholic League, which is offended for a living, condemned the gathering. “People of faith, especially Christians, have good reason to wonder exactly where their interests lie with the Obama administration,” professional complainer Bill Donohue said. “Now we have the definitive answer.” Donohue described attendees as “anti-religious activists” who would like to “crush Christianity if they could.”
Also from the God Machine this week:
* The notorious C Street Center, an affiliate of a secretive international Christian network known as the Fellowship, or the Family, draws a new round of scrutiny: “A group of ministers has sent a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service saying that a town house on Capitol Hill that provides inexpensive lodging and meals for conservative Christian members of Congress is not a church and should no longer be granted the tax-exempt status afforded a house of worship.”
* And Fox News’ resident televangelist refuses to give up. Brit Hume, after using his national platform to urge golfer Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity, reiterated his plea while talking to Bill O’Reilly this week: “Now look, I think, because I’m a Christian and I believe that Christianity is true, that Tiger Woods and his wife Elin would be a lot farther down the road toward forgiveness and redemption if they were both Christians, but they’re not.”