By Kit Geary
“He will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand.” There was a moment on November 7th where I forgot if I was live-streaming a mass or watching the president-elect’s victory speech.
As a Catholic, I sat staring at my laptop with my jaw dropped. Did the president-elect really use religious rhetoric twice during his victory speech after running his campaign advocating for diversity? Does the president-elect realize this means he cannot say a hymn from a historically oppressive language while addressing the entire nation?
I pondered whether this use of religion was intentional. Was he trying to reach some of Trump’s Christian supporters? I questioned whether the president-elect was cognizant of the fact that not everyone was going to be able to relate to or conceptualize his biblical language. By using biblical language in a speech broadcasted to the whole nation, Biden had the expectation that everyone was not only going to understand what he was saying, yet it would console them and provide encouragement during a pandemic.
I personally know that if someone read a passage to me from the Torah I would probably have no idea what it meant or what they wanted me to do with it. I pictured someone Jewish, someone Buddhist, someone Muslim watching their television screen witnessing the man elected to run the nation bring religion into politics. This man was just voted into office and he already set the precedent that Christianity is the nation’s religion.
The Atlantic reported in June that the separation of Church and State was breaking down under the Trump administration. Religious groups were receiving what many viewed as special treatment in terms of pandemic aid. I’m sure Biden’s speech did not boost morale for those thinking that policies based in religion were going to leave the White House with the Trump administration.
“There is a history in this country of using scripture, weaponizing and abusing scripture, to justify bigotry,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez this past February. White supremacists have used Christianity to back their beliefs and actions for years. Christianity is the official religion of the KKK, not America. When it comes down to it Biden incorporated a religion that many people associated with fear into his politics. This does not promote the diversity he campaigned on. It does the exact opposite. It promotes a single way of thinking, and honestly a single way of being and believing.
There are multiple reasons we as a society should not accept this. A major one being it ostracizes the 35% of Americans who do not identify as Christian. This is something society should not normalize, otherwise, we will keep seeing it. How many more speeches are we going to sit through these next four years that have religion tied into them? The answer should be none. The leader of “the free world,” should keep it that way. Keep religion out of politics.
Kit Geary ’22 is a Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major, Kit has been a contributing member of The Defender in the past, She grew up in Newburyport, MA, and is a member of the Best Buddies on campus.