Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
Although he could not be bothered to draft a presidential statement for Easter this year nor one acknowledging the severity of the genocide of Armenian Christians, on Wednesday President Barack Obama wrote an official presidential statement in honor of Diwali, a festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jainists.
Christians comprise 85 percent of the U.S. population, or 224 million people. There are an estimated 100,000 Jainists in the United States. Nonetheless, Obama passed the most sacred Christian holiday without setting pen to paper this year. At the 2011 annual Easter Egg Roll and breakfast, he sagely observed, “There’s something about the resurrection, something about the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ that puts everything else into perspective.”
In 2010, he issued an Easter message that minimized the holiday’s religious importance. “All of us are striving to make a way in this world; to build a purposeful and fulfilling life in the fleeting time we have here,” he wrote. “A dignified life. A healthy life. A life, true to its potential. And a life that serves other. These are aspirations that stretch back through the ages – aspirations at the heart of Judaism, at the heart of Christianity, at the heart of all the world’s great religions.”
Compare that with his Diwali message of the same year:
Diwali is the festival of lights, the time when members of some of the world’s great faiths celebrate triumph of good over evil.
It’s significance is laid out in the Sanskrit verse, “Lead us from falsehood to truth, form darkness to light, from death to immortality.” In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Ram from exile, when small lamps lit his way home. The lighting of these lamps continues today, marking the celebration as a reflection of the year gone by and a time to pray for a good year to come.
In Jainism, the occasion celebrates the attainment of Nirvana by Lord Mahaveer, one of a long line of spiritual leaders known for achieving enlightenment by freeing themselves from base human impulses and emotions.
In Sikhism, Diwali is a celebration of freedom by Guru Hargobind, the religion’s sixth Guru.
In addition to the candle-lighting festival of Diwali, Obama has commemorated Ramadan….