What’s up, everyone.
We’re just a week away from the Fourth of July. I don’t know how patriotic you feel, wherever you live. Even though I kind of hate that song, “Proud to Be An American,” I’ll admit, I enjoy celebrating my country. I get chills when I hear the national anthem (not being sung by Christina Aguilera.) I love fireworks and John Philips Sousa, and cakes that are decorated like American flags, as silly as that is.
So all this week, carrying over into next Monday, I’ll be blogging about patriotism as it relates to faith. Even if you live in Canada or Australia or somewhere else that Americans can’t find on a map, I want you to chime in with your thoughts.
So let’s jump right in. Last week, NBC censored the “under God” phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance during the US Open golf tournament. After getting the typical flack from Christians, NBC’s only response was a rather curt, “Sorry if anyone was offended,” on Facebook.
But you know, even though I’d probably disagree with why NBC censored the pledge, I don’t entirely agree that God should be in the pledge at all.
Jesus is as American as Apple Pie
Christians are all over the map when it comes to loving your country. To some of you, being patriotic, supporting the troops, and voting Republican is what Christianity is all about. To others of you, feeling guilty about America, protesting wars, and voting Democratic is what Christianity is all about.
But when it comes to the pledge, most of us would probably agree that “under God” belongs in the pledge.
I guess it depends on what “under God” really implies about America…
One Nation Without God
You may know that “under God” was added to the pledge in 1954, about ten years after it was adopted.
But did you know that the original, “godless” pledge was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister (who was also a socialist)? How times change. How did a Baptist conceive of a pledge that didn’t mention God? Not to mention a Baptist that promoted socialism. I don’t think he’d find a lot of friends in the Southern Baptist Convention today.
So, obviously, the pledge had nothing to do with affirming that America is a Christian nation. It was all about “inoculating insufficiently patriotic people against dissent,” which is ironic, since America was built on the right to dissent.
God’s Nation Building
So what does “under God” even mean?
Maybe we’re saying that America was founded on Christian principles, that we were given a divine destiny, that God is our supreme authority as a society. That’s all well and good, but if you believe that, you may not like what I have to say on Wednesday.
Or, does saying that America is “under God” imply that as a country, our politics and policies have been done in God’s name? When we bless another nation, is it in the name of Jesus? When we go to war, is it to exercise divine judgement? We are people who have been blessed by God, but is our country really under God’s command? Our past is the same as any other nation, that is, God probably didn’t approve of a lot of it.
The fact is, God isn’t in the business of nation building. The only nation He created was Israel, and it was such a headache, He gave up after that one try. Turns out, God’s about as good at nation building in the Middle East as America is. Israel is probably the only nation that can claim to be under God…sometimes.
Saying “one nation under God” almost sounds like we’re taking God’s name in vain, if you see things my way.
What do you think? Are you a hard-bitten, pledge saying, flag waving Christian, and there sure better be God in the pledge? Or is it something to not worry about? Or should we not even be pledging allegiance to a flag at all?