TUESDAY NIGHT, President Obama ended his speech with a familiar refrain, asking God to bless us and bless our country.
Last month, after we had watched the Inauguration, it was one of my church-going students who asked, "Why was there so much religion?" Other students asked, "Why was there a Christian prayer? What about Jews?" Finally, one 11-year-old girl, whose family is not religious, said, in response to the "God bless America" line, "I felt like somebody who's going to be important to me left me out."
May those who share religious belief share that gladly, in church or in private gatherings. At public events of the government that belongs to us all, let the blessings invoked be the blessings all of us can bestow: those of our own hearts and minds, our hopes and efforts, the energies Obama has proved so talented at evoking.
Our country needs the energy and thought of all our future citizens. I can't think of one good thing that comes from drawing a circle and leaving even one of my students outside it.