The implication here, is that the destruction of Hiroshima and/or the war in the Pacific were done in the name of religion. Obviously, this a backhanded apology. But, I hardly think that Harry Truman based his decision to bomb Hiroshima on a religious belief."How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill."
This isn't the first time that Obama implied that war and murder occurred for religious reasons. Note this excerpt from his 2015 White House Prayer Breakfast speech:
We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.
So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religion for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.Essentially, these words seem to expose the President's belief that religion is at the core of all wars in the world. He ignores the fact that most wars are a result of either imperialism or hatred. It was Japan's imperialistic goal to have control over the entire Pacific region that drove them to try and get us out of the way by attacking Pearl Harbor. Religion had nothing to do with it. In fact famed Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamotto said it best about Pearl Harbor: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." No mention of religion in those words. And, it was Hitler's same desire to have expanded nationalist rule in Europe that drove his war. Again, religion had nothing to do with it. According to British historian Alan Bullock, "Hitler was a rationalist and materialist 'who believed neither in God nor in conscience'". His goal was simply the creation of a Third Reich with himself as dictator.
In my opinion, Obama's words seem to either expose his deep-seated and unfounded hatred of religion; or perhaps, that he, himself, is trying to hijack religion as a means of explaining his own reticence to go to war to confront the evils in the world such as ISIS or Al Qaeda.
Text of President Obama’s Speech in Hiroshima, Japan: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/28/world/asia/text-of-president-obamas-speech-in-hiroshima-japan.html
Remarks by the President at National Prayer Breakfast: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/05/remarks-president-national-prayer-breakfast
Religious views of Adolf Hitler: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler