Obama Leaves God out of Thanksgiving Speech, Riles Critics

Obama leaves God out of Thanksgiving speech and triggers controversy.

ByABC News
November 25, 2011, 12:30 PM

Nov. 25, 2011— -- Critics of President Obama felt little holiday cheer after the president did not thank God in his Thanksgiving-themed weekly Internet address. They immediately took to Twitter and the Internet to voice anger and disbelief.

"Holy cow! Is that one screwed up or what?" columnist Sherman Frederick of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote in a Thanksgiving-morning blog post.

"Somebody ought to remind Obama (and his speechwriter) that when Americans sit down around a meal today and give thanks, they give thanks to God."

Over on the website of Fox News Radio, radio host Todd Starnes also took issue.

"His remarks were void of any religious references, although Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God," Starnes wrote.

"The president said his family was 'reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are,'" Starnes said. "For many Americans, though, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how blessed and thankful they are."

The popular website of London's Daily Mail has taken the issue global, with a story under the headline "What a Turkey! Outrage as Obama Leaves God Out of His Thanksgiving Address."

Obama mentioned God once in a closing "God bless you," to Americans watching the Internet address. However, the President explicitly thanked God earlier in the week in his written Thanksgiving proclamation, which called the holiday "one of our nation's oldest and most cherished traditions," and an occasion that "brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives."

"As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come," Obama wrote.

Ironically, the attacks on Obama came as the Republican White House hopefuls suspended their criticism of the president on Thursday in favor of a unified message of thanks to U.S. service members and their families.

Three of the Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum – issued Thanksgiving statements that omitted any references to God. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry mentioned God in their statements.

Obama, like his predecessors, records an address each week that focuses on an issue the White House wants to spotlight. The messages are typically posted on the Internet at the start of the weekend, but this week's address – with its Thanksgiving theme – was issued before the holiday.

In this week's address, delivered from the White House, Obama said, "We are especially grateful for the men and women who defend our country overseas," and he said, "We're also grateful for the Americans taking time from their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters."

He acknowledged this Thanksgiving would be "more difficult than most" for many Americans because of the economy, but added, "No matter how tough things are right now, we still give thanks for that most American of blessings, the chance to determine our own destiny."