The commentary on Obama’s speech is so voluminous that I’m not inclined at this point to add much to it. Except to note just how much attention the president gave to religion itself. No American leader, of course, has ever been able to come close to Obama’s personal experience of Islam. But neither has one, so far as I know, has ever spoken so directly and at such length about the place of religion in human society. (And I wouldn’t make an exception for Jimmy Carter.) Put the Cairo speech together with Obama’s address on religion at the 2006 Call to Renewal conference, and you’ve got something that goes well beyond the usual anodyne public remarks that politicians make when they address the subject in public.
Note: I’m in Indianapolis for a two-day conference on American religious studies hosted by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI. No twittering or live blogging (God forbid), but I expect there will be some worthwhile things to report.