Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confusing Religiosity with Patriotism: A Peculiar Theist Defect

Nobody loves this country more than I. So much do I love it that in spite of its inequities and faults, I wouldn’t change a single word of the Constitution. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best document of its kind on the planet. There is no place else I’d rather live.

I love our flag. When I see it raised during the Olympic Games I feel pride. When I see it folded and handed to a veteran’s widow at a military funeral I can’t help but shed a tear. Forget about the effect the sound of echoing dual bugles playing “Taps” has on me. I don’t want to talk about that.

I love our service people. I think about them as they put their lives on the line everyday in places I wish they weren’t. I honor them on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, especially those who I served along side of in combat and who lost their lives. If called upon I would not hesitate to put my life on the line to defend this nation. I still can’t visit the Vietnam Memorial in DC. Forty-two years later, and it’s still too soon.

If what I wrote above was penned by a religionist there would be no question of their patriotic credentials. According to some number of Americans, Christians all, I do not qualify to be called a patriot because I have no belief in a supernatural spirit being. As an atheist I am something less than a full American, clearly not a patriot or so I have been told by President George H.W. Bush and those of similar religious fervor.

I recently visited a Facebook page with a patriotic title of “The Flag of the United States of America.” It immediately became clear that the page owner and its fans were war lovers and religious fanatics, as evidenced by a militaristic bent, bible quotes that extol the worship of God, and rants against those who would strip “under God” from the pledge, or who would drop “In God We Trust” from our motto and currency. The page followers were offering their own biblical verses, religious testimony, and “Amens” ad nauseum.

I scrolled down and came across a quote from Ben Franklin that referenced God’s all seeing and all knowing power; proof to these folks that our Founding Fathers were Christians, or more precisely, that God and Country were inseparable. Whether by ignorance or intent, the page owner and author of the post left out the fact that Franklin’s words were part of his suggestion to open the Constitutional Convention with a prayer to the almighty - an appeal that was soundly rejected by the majority of the Convention’s attendees, Aka our Founding Fathers. The motion was never adopted. I advised them of this, then promptly “unliked” the page lest some fb friends confuse me with a religious fanatic militarist.

Soon thereafter, a fb ad popped up on my page with a giant cross emblem that advertises The College of the Ozarks. Curious I clicked on it, and the first thing I was met with was this: “The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.”

What is it about American religionists that make them insist belief in the supernatural is a qualifier, a prerequisite, for patriotism? How does believing in the supernatural transform one into a truer American?

  • Does Pat Tillman, the NFL football player who left a multi-million dollar career to volunteer for combat in the Middle East in the wake of 911 and who was killed in the line of duty, deserve less admiration because of his atheism?

  • Does Thomas Jefferson’s dismissal of Christianity - indeed his recorded distain for its doctrinal supernaturalism - strip him of the title patriot?

  • Does Lincoln’s statement that ”The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma." diminish him or call his patriotism and love of country into question?

I’m not sure where this whole Jesus and the flag mindset started but likely it is a holdover from the cold war, McCarthyism, fear of losing our nation to the “Godless Communist Threat.” For certainly the introduction of God into the pledge and onto our currency was a direct result of those times and that fear. But that time is past. Jesus was not an American. He certainly never equated patriotism with support for war, much less endorsed either. It’s time for theists to stop confusing their religious delusion with a higher plane of patriotism and greater love of country. It is non-scriptural, divisive and damnably insulting.

If you’re face to face with me and have the urge to suggest that my love of reason and rejection of religious delusion diminishes my love of country, be sure to take your glasses off first. You won’t have time afterward.


Jean said...

Love it. I agree with it 110%. Keep up the good work.

Mr E. Scapeons said...

Good ole Manifest Destiny. As I watch Ken Burns' Civil War I can't help but think that the civil war has never ended down there. I can't believe that so many Merkins believe in a young Earth and are just waiting for the Rapture..even young people?

This mindset of so many that all of History has been played out so that the USA could become the zenith of the ever expanding Universe is absolutely terrifying.

I know that I won't live long enough to see science and rationalism overtake mythology down there but if a few children can be saved (pun intended) I can go to my soylent green pellet plant a happy man.

Love the post and all the sidebar stuff that I had a chance to see. Found you on Fb via Chuck E Jesus.

Dromedary Hump said...

Jean... Thanks, I'll try ;)

Mr. E. ... appreciate your input and readership. Please friend me on fb, if you havn't already. link on my blog page column. Thks.

Anonymous said...

It's mainly a redneck thing. If you listen to any country music station for a bit (my least favorite music) you hear a lot of songs about god and the USA.

Republican politicians love to spout bullshit about god and contry to appeal to their Southern/Midwest constituents.

These people also feel that anybody who doesn't accept Jesus as their lord and savior does not belong in this country. This is, after all, a "christian nation".

Nothing makes me sicker than to hear that all the time...especially since it has no basis in fact.

Dromedary Hump said...

gristle... yes, mainly red ncek thing but only because Southern/Mid-Western states have a higher ratio of religious fundamentalist Dominionists / Christian Revisionists than does the rest of the Nation.
But personages like Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin, Coulter, Santorum, Pawlenty, et al ...most of whom are not rednecks in the traditional sense of the term, spread the stupidity of religious patriotism.

Janet said...

You are absolutely right. So understand that I only wish to be of assistance when I say, please correct the typo "duel" and replace it with "dual." And replace "trumpets" with "bugles." Any errors, no matter how trivial, only give your opponents an excuse to dismiss your very important words.

Dromedary Hump said...

Thanks Janet...done. Good catch.

Rachelle said...

WONDERFUL post, Hump!! I wish more people like you had a bigger stage. :)

Momma Moonbat said...

You've hit on two things that baffle me about the religious right. In order to be considered patriotic, one must love Jesus and war. If you love war but not Jesus, you are immoral. If you love Jesus but not war, you are not patriotic and probably not really Christian. If you love neither Jesus nor war, you should leave the country. One must love both Jesus and war to be a "real Amurkin."

aspen-bh said...

This April 7th 2011 a biblical fundamentalist shot dead 13 children and wounded another 15 in a Rio de Janeiro school, before committing suicide. He left a nonsensical suicide note complaining about the impurity of children and praising the ultimate power of Jesus and God. (The only child he spared was a kid who began praying.) His sister told the press they were both raised as strict Jeovah's Witnesses until one year ago, when he supposedly converted to Islam and began spending a lot of time surfing the Internet. Oh, the Evil Internet - that explains it all! Sick.

longhorn believer said...

I wish they would make a big ass Hollywood production about Pat Tillman like Born on the Fourth of July or Full Metal Jacket. Something would bring lots of publicity about what happened to him and the fact that he and his family are atheists. Something people couldn't ignore!

Joe said...

Brilliant! Somehow, I missed this when you first posted it. I feel exactly as you do. yet, I cannot tell you how many times I have been accused of being un-American because I don't believe in the fairy in the sky. Of all the crap that the religiously-infected throw at me, this, more than anything else, makes me want to puke.

Thanks again -- this is wonderful!