Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why it's just not cool to say "God Bless America"

Today is America’s Independence Day, and I know that all of us will be hearing the songs of patriotism, including our national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I don’t think that was a good choice of anthem for three reasons:

1. It describes one tiny piece of our history (the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812),

2. It contains the “rockets” and “bombs” of war, and

3. The music is grating and often hard to sing.

I think “America the Beautiful” would be a better national anthem; it is musically superior and describes exactly what is great about our country (“spacious skies,” “amber waves of grain,” “purple mountains’ majesty,” etc.)

Some people want to have “God Bless America” as the national anthem. I think this is a bad idea, because “God Bless America” (both in song and statement) is offensive and arrogant. This has nothing to do with my atheism.

(Graphic courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art)

Think about it: The same people who believe in a God that is capable of blessing America are also most likely to believe that America is the greatest country in the world. If that is so, that means that God has already blessed America – thousands of times over. Hundreds of thousands of times over.

Those who believe in a God that is capable of blessing nations should be more Christian and ask that God to bless a nation that really needs blessing. Like Afghanistan, for example. Or Iraq. Or Sudan. Or Haiti.

“Christians” who have “God Bless America” bumper stickers on their cars, and who insist that America is the greatest, suffer from the same disconnect that people who boast about going to church every Sunday but refuse to give a dime to the homeless people they pass by on the street – outer piety that is obviously failing to hide inner selfishness.

To close this Independence Sunday sermon, think about what is great about America (such as the freedom to rent of John Waters movies from Netflix), enjoy your barbecues, and don’t even think about lighting firecrackers. It annoys the dogs, the cats, and the mice. Especially the mice with two legs.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to say, I think you may be overgeneralizing about Christians. Its totally cool if you don't want to say God Bless America, but why can't I say it? Why is it offensive? Who says that just because you say God Bless America you can't ask God to bless other countries? When I say my prayers at night, and help my children with their prayers, we ask God to bless lots of different places. To give a few specific examples, we ask God to bless my brother in law's village in Tonga who is suffering from hurricane devastation, we ask that my husband's friends in Russia and the middle east stay safe from terrorist attacks that have been frequenting their area. We ask that my relatives in west Africa can be safe and happy. We ask God to help whoever is in need and that does include America as well as the many people I am in touch with all over the world.

    Also, I am very proud of my country, and I love it, and I think it is the best place to live, but you know what, I think it is great that my sister in law is from Albania and she thinks that is the best place to live, because for her, it is, and for me, America is. We are both right. I think it is good to be proud of where you are from, and to love your country, and think its the best place on earth, whatever country that may be, for me, that is America.

    Also, I do go to church every sunday, AND I do give a lot of my money, and most importantly, my time to help those in need. I don't give money to homeless people, because panhandling is a huge problem in my area. I've seen a homeless looking man go behind a building, shed his ratty close and climb into his brand new sports car. Where I am struggling with a sick husband and a child to make ends meet. What that man is doing is wrong and it is a HUGE problem in my area. To combat the pan handling problem, I give out giftcards to McDonalds and such so that the people who truly are hungry can get some food. That way my hard earned money is going toward food, not a someones car payment.

    I realize I've gone on and on, it is just very important to me that my demographic not be oversimplified, because it would be wrong for me to believe that all atheists are bitter, condescending elitists as many people claim. It is simply not true. Are there holier than thou hypocritical Christians? Yup. Are there bitter and downright mean atheists? Yup. I just try to be true to myself and ask others to do the same. So bottom line, I'm going to keep my God Bless America bumper sticker and keep praying for other countries, because the two are not mutually exclusive and there is enough of God's love to go around and I'm going to keep doing my best to be a good person and keep doing my best to understand other people's points of view.