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Juxtapose This

4:08 PM, Apr 12, 2009 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
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Barack Obama's weekly radio address Saturday:

I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors' struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.

George Bush's, delivered April 7, 2007, the last time Easter fell during Passover week:

This week, people around the world celebrate Passover and Easter. These holy days remind us of the presence of a loving God who delivers His people from oppression, and offers a love more powerful than death. We take joy in spending this special time with family and friends, and we give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

One of our greatest blessings as Americans is that we have brave citizens who step forward to defend us. Every man or woman who wears our Nation's uniform is a volunteer, a patriot who has made the noble decision to serve a cause larger than self. This weekend, many of our service men and women are celebrating the holidays far from home. They are separated from their families by great distances, but they are always close in our thoughts. And this Passover and Easter, I ask you to keep them in your prayers.

In the Obama worldview as expressed here, celebrations of Passover and Easter are oddly unrelated to faith. What Jews and Christians believe in, what they're celebrating, he seems to be saying, is their own histories, and nothing more. Even the resurrection of Jesus Christ is mentioned--by a professing Christian--as something to be rejoiced over and remembered as if it were the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

But this religion without God thing is a tricky business; it can lead us to believe our first purpose is "to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves" and only then to consider "the obligations we have to one another." Without "a loving God who delivers His people from oppression, and offers a love more powerful than death," we have no place to "give thanks for the many blessings in our lives," and without gratitude we have no right to ask others to sacrifice themselves "to serve a cause larger than self."