The American politics of religion vs reason

God Bless America or the rule of Reason?

  • Presidential candidates should cater more often and more emphatically to this otherwise neglected but growing voting bloc
  • Is the litmus test of a presidential candidate or any politician the level of his/her support of evolution or creationism?
  • As God can be manipulated and distorted, so can Reason.

In the February 7 issue of the New York Times, Susan Jacoby authored an article titled “Sick and tired of God Bless America.”

In the article, she argues: “Our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful.” Jacoby seems offended by the abundant use of God Bless America uttered by almost all presidential candidates, especially Republican. Although the United States is still a Christian-majority country, more and more Americans are considering themselves nonreligious. Therefore, presidential candidates should cater more often and more emphatically to this otherwise neglected but growing voting bloc.

Furthermore, Jacoby censures “candidates who rightly denounce the persecution of Christians by radical Islamists should be ashamed of themselves for not expressing equal indignation at the Religion and Reasonpersecution of freethinkers and atheists, as well as dissenting Muslims and small religious sects, not only by terrorists but also by theocracies like Saudi Arabia.”

The author is absolutely right to castigate the Republican presidential candidates, but her expectations are too high and downright unrealistic.

It is unfortunate that many Americans, and seemingly most Republican candidates, utter God Bless America to promote “exclusivism” and “chosenness”. Among all the nations in the world, God
chose America and his blessings will pour on us as long as we continue to believe in him.

This is willfully distorting fundamental Christian beliefs and values and deforming Jesus into this grotesque divine being and separates him from his natural Middle Eastern and Jewish prophetic roots.

Many Christians need to be reminded that the whole world is God’s creation and not America alone. Advocating exclusionary and discriminatory policies seriously damage both Christianity and the United States.

Candidates who end their speeches with God Bless America are not necessarily better or more competent and gifted leaders. Those who would not utter God Bless America are not necessarily less competent and gifted leaders either. These three words, no matter how loaded they are, do not determine the level of competency of any presidential candidate.

READ: The Blaze: The history behind US presidents using God bless America in speeches

Many Christians are deeply frustrated at the repeated abuse committed by the Republican presidential candidates. Every time Cruz, Rubio, Trump, and company put forward some type of Christian symbolism to prop up their political agendas, Jesus further dissipates in the fog of partisan politics and warfare.

One can only sympathize with Jacoby in such an abhorrent and convoluted narrative.

However, her understandable and somewhat harsh reaction against those who utter God Bless America prompts her to adopt much of the many assumptions and arguments used by the proponents of the famous three words.

Polar opposites in a critical debate often end up radicalizing both sides to a point where it becomes hard to differentiate the two viewpoints.

Jacoby’s criticism sometimes verges on fundamentalism when she writes: “Secularists must hold candidates to account when they insult secular values, whether that means challenging them in town hall meetings or withholding donations. Why, for example, would any secular Republican (yes, there are some) think of supporting the many Republican politicians who have denied the scientific validity of evolution?”

07jacoby-master675Is the litmus test of a presidential candidate or any politician the level of his/her support of evolution or creationism?

And finally, she concludes: “God Bless America has become the standard ending of every major political speech. Just once in my life, I would like the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who ends his or her appeals with Thomas Paine’s observation that ‘the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.”

Although Paine’s observation might sound logical and cogent, it does not prevent monstrosities to rear their ugly heads.

It is in the name of Reason that the leaders of the French Revolution sent thousands of citizens to the guillotine. The principles of the French Revolution are praiseworthy. However, mass atrocities have been committed in the name of Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. More crimes against humanity were perpetrated in the 20th century by Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.

As God can be manipulated and distorted, so can Reason. Unfortunately, no matter how Reason can be appealing to most of us, it can also dramatically fail and disappoint us.

These are the wonders of human nature.

About the author

Vahe Tcharkhoutian is the founder and editor of Los Angeles Intelligence. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science [American Politics] and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration. He currently teaches in Glendale, California.

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