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President Obama spoke in Turkey, using the bully pulpit in a fashion the the American wingnut right is not going to like. Witness this exchange on CNN:

(hat tip for the video to MyDD)

President Obama: …One of the great strengths of the United States is, uh, although as I mentioned, uh, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. Uh, we consider ourselves, uh, a nation of citizens, who are, uh, bound by ideals and a set of values…

American history is on President Obama’s side.

In 1796:

Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary

…Art. 11. As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility, of Musselmen;  and, as the said States never entered into war, or act of hostility against any Mohametan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext, arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption in the harmony existing between the two countries…”

Or, a little earlier:

United States Constitution

Article VI

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

Why in Turkey? Read that nation’s Constitution:

Turkey Constitution

{Adopted in: 1982}

{Last Amendment: May 10th, 2007}

{ICL Document Status: May 10th, 2007 }

…Article 1  Form of the State The Turkish State is a Republic.

Article 2  Characteristics of the Republic

The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law; bearing in mind the concepts of public peace, national solidarity and justice; respecting human rights; loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk, and based on the fundamental tenets set forth in the Preamble.

Article 3  Integrity of the State, Official Language, Flag, National Anthem, and Capital

(1) The Turkish state, with its territory and nation, is an indivisible entity. Its language is Turkish.

(2) Its flag, the form of which is prescribed by the relevant law, is composed of a white crescent and star on a red background.

(3) Its national anthem is the Independence March.

(4) Its capital is Ankara.

Article 4  Irrevocable Provisions

The provision of Article 1 of the Constitution establishing the form of the state as a Republic, the provisions in Article 2 on the characteristics of the Republic, and the provision of Article 3 shall not be amended, nor shall their amendment be proposed…

Over the past few years you may have noticed that Turkey has had some political struggles concerning religion and the state. From 2001:

Turkish Court Bans Religious Party, Main Opposition Force


Published: Saturday, June 23, 2001

Turkey’s messy political system suffered another jolt today when the country’s highest court banned the religious-oriented Virtue Party. The court said the main opposition party violated a law that prohibited religious activities that could undermine the secular government.

The court stopped short of expelling large numbers of the party from Parliament, a move that would have automatically led to new elections because it would have left more than 5 percent of the Parliament seats vacant. The party controls 102 of the 550 seats. Most of the rest are split among the three governing parties…

From 2008:

Turkey’s ruling party to stand trial for being ‘too religious’

By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Turkey’s highest court has voted to hear a case to close down the country’s ruling party, in a move that looks set to open the bitterest bout yet in a 50-year war pitting popularly-elected governments against the secular establishment.

The Constitutional Court’s unanimous decision comes a fortnight after a prosecutor charged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with trying to turn Turkey into a country that “takes religion as its reference” and demanded political bans on the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the president Abdullah Gül…

Turkey has been going through a political struggle that some in America would probably like to emulate, it’s just that their specific choices might vary slightly in the details.