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God bless America?

September 11, 2011

I wonder what God thinks when he hears politicians invoke His blessings on America. I’m not going to carp about how evil the country has become, but simply note that in our radically secular public square, God’s voice isn’t permitted. Isn’t it rather cheeky to shut out the religious voice and then ask for God’s blessings? Imagine a teenager who will not listen to anything a parent says, goes out and does whatever he wants (including some pretty bad things) and suffers for it (and maybe causes others harm), and then invokes Dad’s blessings on his actions!

Today at the Ground Zero observance Pres. Obama read Ps. 46 about God being our refuge and strength. Many people listening are indeed of that mind and live in keeping with it’s requirements. But speaking generally (and not connecting this with the events of 9-11), that’s a bit like saying, “God, please enable us to do whatever the heck we want to without seriously consulting you, and then please protect us from whatever may result.”

Make up your mind, America. Either shut out God’s voice in public policies and then be consistent by not asking His blessings, or allow the religious voice once again into the public square.

(Incidentally, I referred to the “religious voice” above to avoid any potential flack about which religious voice. But I did intend to mean an authoritative religious voice, one that is taken seriously. Of course, my desire is that the voice of the true God be heard, but in this matter we may have to move one step at a time.)


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  1. Cameron permalink

    I don’t think President Obama, or Governor Perry or whoever saying “God Bless America” is like the teenager. Those people are individuals with individual beliefs, different from the culture. It’s not like President Obama forbids the mention of God or a religious voice in the public square.

    The culture doesn’t even forbid a religious voice in the public square, it’s just stigmatized by some of our culture, but hardly all. But even if it was universally squelched or legally forbidden, politicians invocations are individual and independent of cultural norms like that.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      I used Pres. Obama as an example or perhaps as a representative of the United States. The religious voice is permitted in the public square in so far as the speaker isn’t arrested for speaking! I’m referring to the wall one hits when making clear that one’s idea intended to be taken as part of the public discussion is based on religious belief. Hence the constant drone of the claim of separation of church and state (what they really have in mind is the separation of religious beliefs and politics, a different thing). That is a hallmark of our secular society. And that voice is indeed shut out frequently even in more informal discussions. I’ve just engaged in one today. I’m told that I cannot “impose” my views on other people, but my correspondent is quite open about imposing hers on others, views admittedly grounded in nothing but herself but connected in some mysterious way to “rights.”

      If any given politician does indeed truly want God’s input into our national conversation, then he or she needs to fight against the secular discrimination against it and create a new conversation about how secularism is only one perspective among many, not the default one.

      Incidentally, the fact that one hears the religious voice at all in the public square, even if it isn’t taken seriously in policy discourse as such, is an illustration of the odd nature of America vis-a-vis Europe. It’s why we’ve been considered, until recently, the exception in the “normal” process of secularization. Now leading sociologists of religion are saying Europe is the exception with its stark secularism.

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