By Paul Bremmer
The millions of Americans who gather Thursday around a dining-room table with family members to celebrate Thanksgiving will heed George Washington’s call in October 1789 to commemorate “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.”
Ever since the days of the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving has traditionally been a time to thank God for the blessings in one’s life, particularly the blessing of the harvest.
However, President Obama has failed to thank God in any of his five previous Thanksgiving addresses.
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly said she will be watching to see whether Obama mentions God this year, but she isn’t optimistic.
“He seems to be on a mission to wipe God out of public life in every possible way,” Schlafly said.
Schlafly, on the other hand, said Americans, as a people, should be thankful for the nation’s Founding Fathers.
“We have to be thankful that [God] gave us an extraordinary group of men who devised the system of our country, which made us not only the freest, but the most prosperous country in the world,” she said. “That’s why everybody wants to come here.”
America is unique, she said, “and it was due to the incredible group of men who devised our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and we hope we can live up to it and continue to profit by their wisdom.”
And for what should Americans thank President Obama?
“I don’t think we have anything to thank him for,” Schlafly said. “I think he’s doing the best he can to undercut our Constitution. I think he really doesn’t believe America is an exceptional country that God has blessed more richly than any other nation in the world.”
Not all Americans give thanks to God on Thanksgiving. In fact, not everybody respects the holiday. Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote in 2012 that Thanksgiving is a “white-supremacist holiday” that should be replaced with a “National Day of Atonement” for the “genocide” of Native Americans.
In 2013, MSNBC host Ronan Farrow tweeted: “Thanksgiving: because genocide is a lot more festive 392 years after the fact.”
Schlafly is not bothered by people who believe Thanksgiving should be a source of white guilt.
“I’m sorry if they think religion and belief in God is a white supremacist idea,” she said. “We invite all people to revere God and recognize that God has always played a big role in American political and social life.”
Schlafly said although God has richly blessed the nation, Americans still need to fight to hold onto those blessings.
“We have a great deal to be thankful for, because we have the freest and the most prosperous country in the history of the world,” Schlafly said.
“And we need to work harder to protect it and retain it and make sure that we hang on to the blessings that we were given when our Constitution was written.”