Tripping Over Our Faith

Does God Need To Be Worn On A Sleeve?

To segue from the Red Bandana post and the questions concerning overt spirituality I sometimes wonder what if any limitations we should as a nation place on piousness. The news from Benghazi and Cairo, although shocking, seem to me like a sad continuation of the insanity of Islam, more bloodshed from the religion of peace. Apostasy laws, blasphemy laws, a clear mandate from their holy book to subjugate the earth and murder all that stand in your way, reasoning with these people is clearly out of the question. But this post as more to do with us, how as a Christian nation (are we still and should we get away from that?) we should comport ourselves publicly re: our faith, is it necessary to inject God and our beliefs in him into the secular affairs of state, is it necessary for public officials to demonstrate their faith to us, is it necessary to inject religion into any portion of governance, and lastly, does our method of worship/our beliefs in God inflame those around the world that we are trying to dialogue with?

There is no greater advocate for our civil liberties then myself and there existed a clear premeditated rational for placing religious liberty not only in the First Amendment, but first in the First Amendment. Any rudimentary understanding of how we came to be a nation has to include the desire and need to be left alone and able to worship God in their own way. The very concept of Manifest Destiny, a “Divine” destiny, whereby Providence (God) issued marching orders to “to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man”, was responsible for theft of land and the extermination of its previous owners, the native American Indians. But that faith also spawned countless church organizations, institutions that fought slavery, provided for the poor and needy, not only here but around the world, you can be the judge as to whether the ledger is in surplus or deficit mode.

But doesn’t freedom of religion also mean freedom from religion? This door has to swing both ways. The American Dream not only means the land of opportunity and the ability to reap the benefits of hard work and industry, it also means freedom from governmental prosecution no matter what beliefs you cling to. Nowhere on the inscription of the Statue Of Liberty ,” Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door” does it mention ,”As long as you worship our Judeo Christian God”. I would hope that if some atheist family living in Saudi Arabia who is sick and tried of all the religious dogma but who is forced to acquiesce and go along for fear of their head getting separated from their shoulders would look upon our shores with fondness, would feel welcomed because in America all faiths (or none at all) are equally valued.

In the past I have relished our differences with that of Europe, mainly because we are different. Not only in matter such as capital punishment and public displays of religiosity (yes, I got the irony of using both in the same sentence) but the very relationship each citizen has with his government, it’s different. But lately I have been thinking that it is now done ( prayers and saying “God bless America”) more out of habit and precedence and not for which it was intended, to invoke God’s guidance and protection for our great land.

Apologies for rambling, but here are the salient questions; would it bother anyone here if we just flat out eliminated the practice? Understanding that we have no particular sway with the almighty, should we dispense with the pretense of being special and just get down to business? Should not faith be between a man and his maker and separate from his allegiance and duties to his country? Would our new found discretion in all things spiritual, would this improve relations with the rest of the world? And does anyone really think that we as American’s have any leg up or special dispensation over anyone else wrt who God will favor?

Through out the world, we see every day how religious fervor is perverted into criminal conduct. I don’t for a minute equate Christianity with Islam, but getting theology and religious practices out of all governmental actions and considerations, globally this would be a good thing.

Comments are closed.

  1. MikieSPikie

    Freedom of religion does also mean freedom from religion. The difference between Christianity/Judaism and Islam is that Islam is more than religion. Not many people in the west fully understand this. It is a system of politics, religion, education, living, all of it, all wrapped up into one seemingly mad-ass crazy package.

    It does not promote humanity or human rights (as they so eloquently proclaim). It in fact subjects its followers into slavery and servitude and completely squashes women and children, only the men are important, only the men make decisions. It is completely sexist, fanatical, and medieval to its very core.

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  2. Kimpost

    The difference between Christianity/Judaism and Islam is that Islam is more than religion. Not many people in the west fully understand this. It is a system of politics, religion, education, living, all of it, all wrapped up into one seemingly mad-ass crazy package.

    It does not promote humanity or human rights (as they so eloquently proclaim). It in fact subjects its followers into slavery and servitude and completely squashes women and children, only the men are important, only the men make decisions. It is completely sexist, fanatical, and medieval to its very core.

    I accept that you believe all that, MikeSPikie, and you’re not alone. Would you however, concede that there are Muslims who probably wouldn’t agree with your characterization of their religion? And if you would, then why do it? Why enter the impossible “I now what the true meaning of [insert religion here] really is”-discussion at all?

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  3. MikieSPikie

    Oh I think most Muslims would not agree with my sentiments about their religion. I will grant you this, when they stop stoning and hanging people, when they stop treating women and children like cattle, when they stop trying to institute Sharia Law and Courts, when they stop launching rockets at Israel, when they stop blowing everything up (including themselves), when they stop denying the Holocaust, when they stop trying to convert people to teir religion under pain of death for failure to do so, when they stop pouring acid on their wives because they want a divorce.. I will be nicer about what I say about Islam. Until then, they are backward, uneducated, ignorant, goat-shagging, maniacs who deserve to be erased from the planet.

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  4. richtaylor365 *

    It was not my intention for this to be a bash Mohammed post, that was already handled in the Act of War post. For our foreign readers I would like to know if in your opinion the US adopting a more secular tone would endear us more towards the rest of the world ?(not that that is my goal or aspiration, per se). For the atheist Americans, do you even give a shit either way? And for Christians, is this important to you, would it shake your faith in our country, forgoing a visible more public display of our faith and allowing for the fact that whatever God’s blessings has in store for us, it is predicated on his will and not any overt public proclamations.

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  5. CM

    For our foreign readers I would like to know if in your opinion the US adopting a more secular tone would endear us more towards the rest of the world ?

    I think it might help reduce one (of the many) excuses for fundamentalist violence.
    It certainly might reduce mayhem when a President casually mentions going to the Middle East on a ‘crusade’ ;-)
    It would provide far greater legitimacy when engaged in wars that have a religious basis.

    I would hope that if some atheist family living in Saudi Arabia who is sick and tried of all the religious dogma but who is forced to acquiesce and go along for fear of their head getting separated from their shoulders would look upon our shores with fondness, would feel welcomed because in America all faiths (or none at all) are equally valued.

    I would hope so too. No doubt they might think it strange to live within a system which says all religions are equal, except for the one that isn’t. But compared to what they’ve come from, I have no doubt most would just shrug and say ‘whatever’. Much the same would apply here (we have ‘God Defend NZ’ as our national anthem, although I guess that isn’t explicitly a Christian God).

    Understanding that we have no particular sway with the almighty, should we dispense with the pretense of being special and just get down to business?

    I’ve always found that pretense very peculiar. Perhaps dispensing with that would be even better than simply ‘adopting a more secular tone’. Keep the God stuff, but stop pretending that God loves you more than the rest of us. Nobody likes it when a sibling keeps claiming they’re the favourite child.

    Should not faith be between a man and his maker and separate from his allegiance and duties to his country?

    I completely agree. I’m not at all religious, but I would have thought nothing could be more personal than religion. I don’t see how the relationship between a person and his country is remotely relevant to that today.

    I don’t for a minute equate Christianity with Islam, but getting theology and religious practices out of all governmental actions and considerations, globally this would be a good thing.

    Yes, for sure.

    Great post Rich. Many excellent questions that I’ve often thought about.

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  6. Kimpost

    I don’t think that American religiosity is all that provocative. Your form of government is secular at its core, even if you have God on your coins.

    US foreign affairs is what bothers people in the ME. Seemingly one-sided support of Israel is one part of that, but I don’t think that’s the main issue either. You are and have been a super power for quite some time now, and you haven’t exactly been silent observers. In hindsight I’m sure many of you guys would agree that supporting dictator A vs. dictator B have not always been a clear-cut choice, as well as one that could be regarded as hypocritical.

    And lets not forget how theocracies are actively using Americans to further their cause of remaining in power. They use their controlled media and dito religious institutions to under-blow your apparent evil nature. That includes portraying you as Christian soldiers on a crusade. Occasional nuts burning the Koran is perfect material for them.

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  7. repmom

    how as a Christian nation (are we still and should we get away from that?)

    Umm……yes. Almost 80% Christian according to my google search.

    “Should we get away from that?” How? By outlawing it?

    I’m sorry. I’m confused by this, rich. Help me out. What am I missing, or misunderstanding here?

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  8. richtaylor365 *

    “Should we get away from that?” How? By outlawing it?

    Not outlawing it, just stop doing it.

    I’m sorry. I’m confused by this, rich. Help me out. What am I missing, or misunderstanding here?

    Sure. We Americans make a public display of piety within our state affairs. Congressional sessions all open with a public prayer, Important speeches given by heads of state usually invoke the guidance of “Providence” and always end ,”May God bless the United States of America”, even solemn dedications like the 9/11 ceremonies we saw yesterday, all started off with a prayer. No other democratic nation does this, they understand that elected officials represent ALL the people, not just those with certain religious leanings; they leave the people to practice their faith on their own and do not place it within the public square.

    Given our unique genesis and the circumstances in how we founded our nation, a public declaration of religious freedom in the form of the First Amendment was essential and warranted. We have that safely tucked away in the vault. But given 1) that religious nuts around the world are committing daily murder and mayhem, all in the name of their god, 2)That since we have never had a religious test for elected office it is possible and probable that some elected officials will not be religious at all, and 3) Is the continuing practice of invoking the name of God and beseeching his blessings (whether genuine or just following protocol) helping us wrt how we interact with our allies and other nations around the world.

    My faith is secure and unshakable, but we do not live in a theocracy, we are guided by The Constitution, not the Bible, so I was asking some general questions:

    And for Christians, is this important to you, would it shake your faith in our country, forgoing a visible more public display of our faith and allowing for the fact that whatever God’s blessings has in store for us, it is predicated on his will and not any overt public proclamations.

    And

    Should not faith be between a man and his maker and separate from his allegiance and duties to his country? Would our new found discretion in all things spiritual, would this improve relations with the rest of the world? And does anyone really think that we as American’s have any leg up or special dispensation over anyone else wrt who God will favor?

    You may disagree with me and find wearing our religion on our sleeve to be yet one more of those peculiarities that separate us from the rest of the world.

    I just wonder, given all the bad stuff that is going on in the world, all under the name of God (a pure perversion, btw) would it not be better if we took a step back and became more sedate, more private in our religious beliefs and let the state remain secular and all inclusive for everyone.

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  9. Hal_10000

    After 9/11, I put a flag in my window of my Baltimore apartment. About six months later, I was wondering how long I had to keep it in there. I was afraid I’d miss it when my car was stolen. And I know a lot of other people were thinking the same thing. It wasn’t a lack of patriotism or anything; it was a question of when we should stop mourning.

    I think, for some, the invocations of God in public life are in that same phase. There was a time when it was important: the phrase “under God” was added to the pledge specifically to distinguish us from communism, for example. And after 9/11, I think it was good. But it’s clear some politicans would like to just drop it. Not because they are atheists or unreligious, but because it’s gotten so perfunctory.

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  10. repmom

    Well, I understand what you guys are saying, but as the minority Christian here, I have to say I’m bothered by it.

    I’d be interested to know how the other 79% of American Christians would feel about it.

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  11. Mississippi Yankee

    repmom

    Not being religious and a former christian I’d still like to tell you how most of the people I’ve met in my same predicament feel.

    Tradition for traditions sake is not necessarily a bad thing. As an example IN GOD WE TRUST has been on all US coins since the 2 ¢ coin in 1863. How’s that for tradition? As for the Pledge of Allegiance w/ In God… almost without exception every religion has a god. And in my experience the ONLY people offended by that word or symbols such as crosses are anti-theist. Which I pray is never confused with a true atheist, who BTW is not concerned with other peoples beliefs.

    I hope I haven’t come off as condescending, my wish was to let you know that non-christian feel the few religious trappings we have in this country are best left alone as they harm no one but the bigots that would have you worship their secular god.
    Tradition should top perfunctory in a democracy were +80% of it’s people believe it something greater than themselves.

    I also hope I’m mis-understanding rich. My reading of his post seems to say if we were secular the rest of the world would like us better. Perhaps I’m wrong as there has been a lot to digest today.

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  12. CM

    My reading of his post seems to say if we were secular the rest of the world would like us better.

    I understood him to be saying that the US might save itself a little grief if it presented itself in a more secular way. Nothing to do with the faith (or lack of faith) of individuals.
    I’m a true independent when it comes to comparing religions, because I don’t have one. If US engagement in world affairs was sent as more ‘independent’, Rich is asking whether that would make a difference. I think it could only add to legitimacy, which I always see as a really important issue. And I’m someone who would much rather have the US engaged in world affairs.

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  13. richtaylor365 *

    MY, I think that is a valid criticism and one that I was going to address in the original post, but felt that it was growing wordy beyond the original intent.

    I was hoping that since folks here knew that I was a Christian and knew by way of all my other posts that the opinions of the rest of the world rarely blow up my skirt, that this was not going to be a run of the mill hate fest on religion and God but more just asking if we could tighten our ship a bit better.

    Re: the Muslim community, there is nothing we can do that will make them like us more, or like us at all. For simplicity sake, yes, I am pretty much lumping them all together because the notion that we get spoon fed, that the majority are peace loving and would never harm a fly, this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. The simple fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this particular time in history, they are the ones running roughshod through the world leaving bodies strewn in their wake, they are the ones that bomb, behead, murder or honor-kill, and they are the ones that flag burn, torch embassies and kill diplomats, they are the ones that teach their young to kill Jews and infidels, they are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and the silent majority sits back and allows their religion to be high jacked.

    The radical Muslims hate us for any number of reasons; our democracy, Hollywood, pornography, our free speech and expression protections, even the way we treat our women and hold them as equals. Most simply, we are not Sharia complaint, so their work is cut out for them.

    But going back to your original inquiry, it is not so much what other nations think about us but what is consistent with other democracy’s. Our reverence for and protections of religious freedoms, making it first among our civil liberties, makes us unique. But with that freedom comes the understanding that while we can hold God in our own way, the consent of the governed includes everyone, including those that want nothing to do with religion, their rights are just as inviolate as ours.

    My patriotism on display is a reflection of our uniqueness and our character, my religion should be personal and separate from my allegiance to my country. And given the fact that in God’s eyes all people are special and deserving of his grace, to think that Americans are more special, and have more pull or influence of his will, well, that is just silly.

    Our country is ruled by men, fallible human beings who do the best they can, but they are only men and when things go bad or mistakes are made, God should not get drawn into the mix. Our actions around the world should not be predicated on religious tenets but the rule of law established within the framework of The Constitution.

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  14. CM

    Your comments on this Rich (which I find to be excellent) reminded me of this piece I read a few hours ago….

    The anti-Islam film in question was a pretext much more than the cause of yesterday’s violence. It could have been anything. Anti-American anger, even in Libya, the most pro-American country in the Arab world, remains palpable, lingering underneath the surface of apparent gratitude. But, that aside, even if the United States did everything on Arabs’ wish lists, there would remain a small, influential fringe that would find another reason to hate — or at least dislike and distrust — the United States.

    Outside of exceptional cases where the United States intervenes decisively on one side or another, Arab attitudes toward the world’s preeminent power are generally what economists would call inelastic. In other words, even when the United States does “good” things — such as ending the war in Iraq — Arab public opinion does not seem to change all that much. Even in Libya, anti-American sentiment will almost certainly increase after the NATO operation fades from memory. In fact, in several Arab countries, U.S favorability ratings have been lower under Obama than they were in the final years of President George W. Bush’s administration.

    It is sometimes difficult for Americans to understand just how deep-seated Arab anger is. Some of it is illegitimate, but much of it is at least based on things that have actually happened. Algerians will bring up 1991, when what was then the region’s most promising democratic transition was aborted by a Western-backed military coup. Iranians will often bring up 1953, when their democratically elected prime minister was toppled in a CIA-sponsored coup. These dates, far from a remote, forgotten history, are very much alive for those who still suffer the consequences of those tragedies. Anti-Americanism can diminish, and probably will, but to expect an overnight transformation is fantasy.

    Large pluralities or majorities in the Arab world are 9/11 “truthers” who believe that either the United States or Israel were somehow responsible for the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Yes, this is irrational — one simply has to look at the fact that al Qaeda took credit for the attack. But many Arabs believed, well before Sept. 11, 2001, that the United States was not just a well-intentioned country that sometimes did very bad things, but a veritable force for evil. So it wasn’t difficult for them to believe something that the vast majority of Americans simply couldn’t — that Americans could acquiesce or even actively support the murder of their own countrymen.

    The easy response, for Americans suffering from Arab Spring fatigue, would be to give up on the Middle East. They could disengage, and treat the Arab world as what it seemed to be yesterday — a place well outside the grasp of normal, reasoned political analysis. But that would be a grave mistake, especially now. It should be obvious that disengaging from the Arab world is what both Salafi extremists — not to mention Arab dictators — want. The more the United States disengages, the more room they will have to grow in influence and power, and the more commonplace events like those of last night will become.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/12/dont_give_up_on_the_arab_spring?page=full

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  15. Mississippi Yankee

    Thanks for your answer. Within it however brought up this dilemma:

    God in our own way, the consent of the governed includes everyone, including those that want nothing to do with religion, their rights are just as inviolate as ours.

    Which is why I feel tradition should rule the day. With a +80% christian majority, and, I believe a majority of the remaining 20% not offended why must we capitulate to a very small but very vocal few?

    After all we are a democracy/constitutional republic not a utopia at the end of the day.

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  16. CM

    The +80% majority would be offended by not actively promoting the concept of God treating America as a special case? Really? Surely they can still think that privately, as part of their religious beliefs, if they like?

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  17. richtaylor365 *

    Good article, CM. It reinforces what I clumsily tried to convey, that no US president deserves any special reconciliation due to us being a Christian nation, we own our own screw ups and leave God out of it.

    Re: “Arab Spring fatigue”, an accurate description but provides no ready solutions. Naturally, writing off the Middle East is not realistic and does not serve our own interests. But throwing money at them willy nilly is no answer either. I like the fact that we are sending warships into the area. But I don’t think there is much we can do to influence Muslim nations, for the very reasons that your article laid out. We can’t place more Americans at risk but I think the ball is now in their court. Some conciliation, some reparations, some semblance of control, and some movement towards a more stable more civilized society would go a long way into us thinking we can work with these folks.

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  18. Mississippi Yankee

    The +80% majority would be offended by not actively promoting the concept of God treating America as a special case? Really? Surely they can still think that privately, as part of their religious beliefs, if they like?

    Can you show me where I said that?

    My comments specifically mentioned IN GOD WE TRUST on our coins and In God in our pledge. Never do I say anything about Divine Manifest or words close to that.

    I have much better things to do than play childish word games with you.

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  19. richtaylor365 *

    With a +80% christian majority, and, I believe a majority of the remaining 20% not offended why must we capitulate to a very small but very vocal few?

    There is no defined movement to “capitulate” to anything, as I said in my original post, it was just stuff that I was mulling over individually. I suspect that any movement towards a more secular/less religious defined nation would be met with much opposition and hand wringing so I admit freely, it ain’t gonna happen. But as a government of this world, a nation that must deal with other nations, a nation devoted to protecting the liberties of all men, it would make things much easier.

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  20. CM

    I have much better things to do than play childish word games with you.

    Believe it or not, that wasn’t my intention. Which is why I used question marks.
    Anyway, thanks for clarifying. You were being specific about those things, that’s cool.

    Good article, CM. It reinforces what I clumsily tried to convey, that no US president deserves any special reconciliation due to us being a Christian nation, we own our own screw ups and leave God out of it.

    No, I think you said it well.

    Re: “Arab Spring fatigue”, an accurate description but provides no ready solutions. Naturally, writing off the Middle East is not realistic and does not serve our own interests.

    Many, including people here it seems, clearly disagree. Their solution is apparently to disengage, or to engage with nothing but force.

    But throwing money at them willy nilly is no answer either. I like the fact that we are sending warships into the area. But I don’t think there is much we can do to influence Muslim nations, for the very reasons that your article laid out.

    I think it’s such a complex issue and changes that benefit the US (and West in general) will only be visible over a long period of time, if a careful and restrained long-game is pursued. Some people simply refuse to consider anything over that time period.

    We can’t place more Americans at risk but I think the ball is now in their court. Some conciliation, some reparations, some semblance of control, and some movement towards a more stable more civilized society would go a long way into us thinking we can work with these folks.

    Yep.

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  21. Seattle Outcast

    Freedom of religion does also mean freedom from religion.

    It pretty much means exactly that, unless you have some different interpretation of the phrase than most English speaking people.

    I am free from having your religion shoved upon me and being forced to participate in it merely because you might be in the majority at any given instance.

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  22. Seattle Outcast

    Umm……yes. Almost 80% Christian according to my google search.

    “Should we get away from that?” How? By outlawing it?

    I’m sorry. I’m confused by this, rich. Help me out. What am I missing, or misunderstanding here

    A christian nation is one that places the bible first in front of it’s laws.

    However, with 20% non-religious and another 15% being other forms on non-christian, at best the nation is composed of 65% christians, most of them not very devout.

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  23. Kimpost

    Out of curiosity, repmom…

    Well, I understand what you guys are saying, but as the minority Christian here, I have to say I’m bothered by it.

    I’d be interested to know how the other 79% of American Christians would feel about it.

    …what is it that would bother you? Would you perceive a toned down public religiosity as an attack on your personal religious beliefs? If so, why? If it’s something else I wonder what it would be?

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  24. Xetrov

    Re: the Muslim community, there is nothing we can do that will make them like us more, or like us at all.

    Throwing out the Constitution, and adopting Sharia law would be a good start. Anybody up for that?

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  25. repmom

    what is it that would bother you?

    I’m bothered by the idea of changing our ways – our traditions – to please other countries and other people. I’m bothered by the idea of not mentioning God in any way, in order to not offend someone.

    Is it a big deal if the President doesn’t finish his speech with “God Bless America”? No, I suppose not. Will it really make us more “popular”?

    Would you perceive a toned down public religiosity as an attack on your personal religious beliefs?

    Well, having been raised a Baptist, and taught to “share the word”, I guess my answer to that should be “Yes”. I’ve never been one to push religion on others, however, so personally I would say “no”.

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  26. richtaylor365 *

    I’m bothered by the idea of changing our ways – our traditions – to please other countries and other people. I’m bothered by the idea of not mentioning God in any way, in order to not offend someone.

    {sigh}

    Oh well, a big swing and a miss for me, these were not at all the sentiments I tried to convey in the post, but, on to other things :(

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  27. Iconoclast

    …would it bother anyone here if we just flat out eliminated the practice?

    This strikes me as an extremely loaded question, given that it depends heavily on whether the Christian God actually exists, and whether the Bible actually conveys this Christian God’s point of view on the situations at hand. If the God of Christianity is indeed a man-made fairy-tale, then obviously, the answer is to secularize as much as humanly possible. But what if this imaginary sky pixie/orbital teapot/pink unicorn/garden fairly/bearded-guy-in-the-sky actually did turn out to exist? What then? The Bible talks about what this particular sky-pixie expects from “His People”, both at the individual level and at the national level. Assuming that the Bible actually does represent this particular spaghetti monster’s point of view, and assuming God actually exists.

    My point is that this seemingly simple question is really a can of worms. Ask this question of ten people and you’ll get over a dozen passionate answers.

    Just how “unpopular” have we been, historically, given our traditions of “wearing our faith on our sleeve”? And with whom?

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  28. ilovecress

    For our foreign readers I would like to know if in your opinion the US adopting a more secular tone would endear us more towards the rest of the world ?

    Firstly, I don’t care how much or little the US displays it’s religion. Religion is a personal thing – but it’s also a cultural thing. The tricky part of being a multicultural society is that you have to accept that you’re part of a melting pot, and that the culture is not homogenous. It’s give and take all the way though – if a custom is part of a culture – even if you don’t believe in it rationally, as part of that culture, you respect it.

    As an example – yesterday was a pretty emotional day for me as the Hillsborough verdict was out. As a Liverpool fan, I am a part of that culture, and even though I’m thousands of miles away I joined the vigil, lit a candle and joined in a prayer for the 96 victims. Now I don’t actually believe that the words flew up to heaven and into their ears – but that’s what being a part of a culture means.

    Now, having said that – I think that what does damage the US in the eyes of the world is the conflation of messaging with religion. You guys have a pretty good system in place to ensure that religion and law/policy are kept apart. But that means that if you are going to be a nation that wears it’s cultural religious heritage on its sleeve – then you need to be extra careful to demonstrate that your reasoning and decision making has nothing to do with your belief in a particular brand of God.

    I don’t think that the President saying ‘God Bless America’ has any effect on diplomacy. But referring to the war in Afghanistan as a ‘Crusade’ does. Because instead of avenging the deaths of the Americans killed in an act of violence – that statement turned it into a war over who has the best imaginary friend. Now I don’t believe that Bush actually meant it that way, but perception is reality, and PR matters.

    It’s not cultural displays of religion that affect the world standing, it’s the perceived use of religion in making decisions that affect people who might not share that religion. And with religion mixed into your politics (and your politicians) so stridently, separating the two is difficult.
    My 2 cents anyway.

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