The OMG Nation
A recent visitor from Europe was asked to compare political discourse in the U.S. with the way it’s practiced at home. He said the thing that struck him most was the way God is dragged into every civic and political event. Not so, in Europe.
At first, I thought this was another jab by a foreigner eager to feel superior. But let’s face it: woe be it to any U.S. politician who doesn’t end every speech with “And God bless the United States of America!” Does this mean we’re a nation of chronic sneezers, or is it a sincere expression of love for this country?
We’ve always had a fair amount of God printed and sculpted on currency, coins and many of our monuments and public buildings. Many decades ago, “Under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance.” Next to “Coke,” the most heavily promoted word today is probably “God.”
In a pluralistic nation of Protestants, Catholics and Jews, Moslems, Mormons and non-believers, religious distinctions were usually muted and most public references to G-d were non-sectarian. Not any more! Jesus is a growing popular image, hence the title “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This popularity often sharpens the differences between Americans.
Some would say these labels are the new “wedge” issue in today’s politics. A growing number of those who practice divisive politics insist that America should identify itself as a “Christian nation” and should openly question candidates’ religious beliefs as a litmus test for serving in public office. Abortion, birth control, sex education, same-sex marriage and a lot of seemingly private and personal practices are now “qualifications” for election to office in this country.
Ministers (especially in the South) feel free to endorse candidates, to oppose legislation and to admonish parish members from the pulpit that those with different views are defying God’s will!
It’s surprising that people whose ancestors came to America to escape religious oppression don’t see the slippery slope they’re pushing us toward. As they see it, they’re just spreading the word that God has entrusted to them. Remember “the Devil made me do it?” Now God gets the blame for the mean-spirited ignorance of any angry minority.
It’s an election year and we desperately need to begin to find solutions to real problems, starting with our huge financial deficit. Our educational system lags far behind most of the countries competing with us in the global marketplace. Our political system is held together by bombast and bribes: big bribes for the wealthy, little safety net bribes for our diminishing middle class.
For “bombast,” consider our constant self-congratulation (“we’re number one! We’re number one!”) and the assumption that the world better listen to us. They won’t and they shouldn’t. Increasingly, our internationalist foreign policy is seen as one backed by a military force we can no longer afford. Did I forget to mention we have no effective policy for dealing with nuclear weapons in Pakistan, North Korea and Iran?
What would Jesus do if he were the next American president? No disrespect intended and I don’t have one of those direct lines to Him like all those True Believers. Still, I would hazard a guess that if Christ were to look around this country today, He might just say “OMG!” and decide to emigrate.