Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Obama’s America includes atheists

by Rob - February 7th, 2009.
Filed under: Hybrids, Neanderthal.

In his inaugural address, Barack Obama said of America, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”

In my 2003 novel, Hybrids, I had the next president of the United States (the one coming to office in 2009) refer to nonbelievers, too:

So, yes, indeed, now is the time to take longer strides. But it’s not just time for a great new American enterprise. Rather, it’s time, if I may echo another speech, for black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — and Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists, and men and women of all faiths, and men and women of none — for individuals from every one of our 191 united nations, for members of every race and religion that make up our unique, varied brand of humanity — to go forward together, in peace and harmony, with mutual respect and friendship … [Chapter 25]

For me, it was key that the first post-Bush president acknowledge the large numbers of atheists and nonbelievers, and I’m delighted to see Obama do just that.

The only appearance by my president in Hybrids is through a series of excerpts from his first major speech, which appear in chunks at the beginnings of each chapter; I didn’t explicitly say he was black, but I certainly implied it:

Four decades ago, my predecessor in the Oval Office, John F. Kennedy, said, `Now is the time to take longer strides — time for a great new American enterprise.’ I was just a kid in a Montgomery ghetto then, but I remember vividly how those words made my spine tingle … [Chapter 5]

I’m very proud of the speech I wrote for the fictitious president (the full text of which is here), but am even prouder, as an often-conflicted American-Canadian dual citizen, that my real president had the courage to acknowledge us nonbelievers in his inaugural address.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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