by Dick Mac
Americans have a perverse relationship with the Christian deity. It's almost sado-masochistic.
On the one hand, many Americans believe that the liberty we enjoy is a direct gift from God, designed specifically for Americans.
On the other hand, many Americans believe that some citizens should be denied liberty, even though they have committed no crime, and this, too, is a direct gift from God designed specifically for Americans.
So, God has given us liberty and God has denied us liberty.
Many who believe this paradigm also resent paying taxes. Sometimes you can get those people off their anti-tax rant long enough for them to breathe and accept that this amazing liberty we enjoy must be financed, and that it's not really sinful or unconstitutional for our government to collect taxes.
Why do those who adore the Christian deity also insist that this deity is destroying their nation by refusing to do away with taxes and homosexuals and abortionists?
I remember one of these Christians saying that God was trying to save America by spreading AIDS among homosexuals. AIDS was a punishment from God. I am not certain if this means their God was trying to save America or that their God was trying to destroy America. I will say that mathematically, elimination of 10% or more of a nation's population is an odd way for their loving God to make it clear he loves their nation.
Much of the insertion of God into our political and governmental discourse is rooted in the post-WWII communist scare. Godless communists were going to destroy America, so we better get God on our side fast by protecting him from the communists. The notion that their omnipotent God needed protecting is beyond my realm of reason. If I believe that everything is pre-ordained by God and a godless communist movement is part of that, then there is nothing to fear.
Just in case, though, Christians began passing laws that protected and adored their God. Creepy.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy:
I pledge of allegiance to the Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
In 1923, the National Flag Conference called for the words to be changed to "the Flag of the United States" so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and their new country. The words "of America" were added a year later. The United States Congress officially recognized the Pledge for the first time, in the following form, on June 22, 1942:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
In 1953, Democratic Congressman Louis C. Rabaut of Michigan sponsored a resolution to add the words "under God" to the Pledge. The phrase "under God" was then officially added on June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending §7 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
At the same time, we added God to our money.
American currency has included the words "In God We Trust" for only half a century.
This notion that God somehow favors one form of government over another, and one nation over another, is bizarre. What is stranger, yet, is that some Americans have taken this notion beyond an approval of our government to include approval of "our way of life" and "capitalism."
Actually, they don't think God approves of ALL capitalism, just the brand of Reaganomics popular in America for the last thirty years. Somehow American Christians have convinced themselves that God objects to spending on any issues of social welfare. And somehow, this is supposed to reflect the image of a loving God. In reality, any God that would take that position is pretty much a God that hates those people. How do we reconcile the notion that God approves an economic system and government that denies civil liberties to all its citizens, wants guns to be as holy as crucifixes, and prefers that hungry homeless children remain in that state?
If God really is the God that American Christians want us to believe in, then he's a God that hates us in a special way. He wants our children naked, hungry and uneducated. He wants people to carry guns and shoot each other. He wants us to maintain a societal pecking order in which some citizens enjoy less freedom and liberty than others. That sounds like a God that hates us.
I am a Christian. I embrace and try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe that if Jesus Christ was born in a time when the world was a more global place, where he had access to what was going on in the rest of the world, he would have been a Buddhist. He'd have eschewed Judaism and become a Buddhist. His teachings would have remained exactly the same as we know them, and he may very well have been killed in the same way, and would likely have been deified in the same way we know now.
I believe Jesus would have insisted that homosexuals be granted all of the rights granted to heterosexuals. I believe Jesus Christ would have opposed abortion, and would have spent none of his time advocating about it in one way or another. I believe Jesus opposed the death penalty and would be a citizen working against capital punishment. I believe Jesus would want the hungry to be fed, the homeless to be sheltered, the illiterate to be taught, and the sick to be healed and comforted.
I believe Jesus Christ would make a connection between the payment of taxes and the assurance of these things.
I don't think he would have thought or taught that market-driven considerations and profit be part of deciding issues of sickness and homeless.
I don't think Jesus was afraid of other people's religion or sexuality. And I don't think he would go around today's America condemning anyone, or advocating laws that limited their liberty. It's just not Christian.
Our national obsession with Christianity is unbecoming and absurd.
How can those who most loudly shout their allegiance to Jesus Christ also be so un-Christ-like in their political and societal beliefs? Because, if God really did believe the things these Americans believe, then it would be obvious that God hates America.
I have an idea: let's drop God from the societal and political discourse, altogether.