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.