Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"

Date: Tue May 27 2003 - 12:21:15 EDT

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    When I heard Pres Bush's speech on Norwegian TV, I cringed when he closed
    off with "God bless America."
    I would have preferred him to say "God bless all countries who seek freedom
    and righteousness". To me as a
    non-American, it felt like he was tantalising the Moslems who claim God for
    their "holy war".

    Yes, I would say God bless America, but not to the exclusion of others who
    also seek to get and end to terror and abuse of
    power and religion,


    | | Joel Cannon |
    | | <jcannon@jcannon.wa| @jcannon.wa|
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      | Subject: Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?" |

     From: "Terry M. Gray" <>
    > Subject: Re: Do non-U.S. Christians say "God Bless America?"
    > Joel,
    > Isn't "God Bless America" a prayer in keeping with Romans 13:1ff and
    > 1 Timothy 2:1-2? You seem to suggest that what is meant by that is
    > "God is blessing America" ("America is God's country.") No doubt,
    > that sentiment exists, but I'd suggest that my reading is more in
    > keeping with Jay's and most people's intent.
    > Isn't it legitimate for Christian citizens of each nation to utter
    > such a prayer for their nation and their leaders? Of course, a
    > Christian's primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.

    Perhaps. Maybe it is no different than when Brits sing "God Save the
    Queen" (to the tune of America the Beautiful!), although I suspect
    that "God Save the Queen" had a different pathos (and was more idolatrous)
    at the height of the British empire than it does now. For the reasons
    you mentioned, I was curious about what others from outside our
    country thought.

    How do non-U.S. Christians find language like God Bless America?

     I did not get the sense that it was just what you say, and that is
    partly why I asked what non-U.S. citizens thought. As Calvin
    recognized, a characteristic of our fallen state is that we are prone
    to self-deception---we often do not know why we do what we do. Those
    in power, it seems, are most prone to self-deception. The question is,
    "Are we Americans self-deceived and idolatrous when we use this
    language?" In many cases, I think the answer is yes.

    Why did I think it was more than a simple response a la Rom. 13?
    The 1) juxtaposition of the gospel as captured in John 3:16, 2) a
    overly simple, overly sentimental view that endows U.S. soldiers'
    deaths with questionable grand meaning (a good many presumably did not
    have high principles in mind when they were drafted---does the memory
    of missionaries' deaths, for example, garner the same emotion from Jay
    and others?), with 3) the God Bless America does strike me as
    communicating more than a response to the simple instuction to pray
    for the Emporer.

    While on the subject of being faithful to Romans 13, it does seem
    ironic that the instruction to pray for the emporer comes in the
    context of forbidding revolution (He who rebels against the authority
    is rebelling against what God has instituted, Rom. 13.2). It seems
    that it is difficult to translate Paul's instruction to first century
    Christians into our own. Revolution was evidently a possibility to
    them. They lived in a world that, perhaps apart from Israel, knew
    nothing equivalent to the modern nationalism that we have
    today. Furthermore, the Romans were not vulnerable to national
    idolatry since the statement Jesus is Lord (ergo Caesar is not) was an
    inflammatory political statement that made the state see those who
    proclaimed it as enemies. It is a supreme irony that a number of
    those who are most eager to be faithful to 13.1 by praying for our
    equivalent of an emporer can be the most enthusiastic in celebrating
    on July 4 what the next verse specifically forbids (and which probably
    gave rise to the command to pray in the first place).

    Time to go. I feel like what the Car Talk hosts say ("You have
    squandered another perfectly good hour...").


    >I am curious what non-U.S. citizens think of statements like this,
    >which implicitly tie the gospel to "God Bless America."
    >I find it to be a surprisingly clear manifestation of the national
    >idolatry that characterizes too much of American (U.S.)
    >Christianity. Why not just say "God is on our side" or "America is
    >God's country" and be done with it?
    > There are many things for an American citizen to be thankful for
    >(much of which can be traced, ironically, to the Enlightenment). My
    >post is not anti-American. However, the line between the good and the
    >bad (or the Godly and the un-Godly) cuts right down the middle. Being
    >Christian should encompass among other things telling the truth about
    >the principalities and powers of this age; we are citizens of a
    >different kingdom. Our belief that "Jesus is Lord" should mean that we
    >do not worship America, the American ideal, or other things "of this
    >Forwarded message:
    >> From Mon May 26 13:56:26 2003
    >> Message-ID: <000701c323ac$a40f0260$>
    >> From: "Jay Willingham" <>
    >> Save this one and most important thing,
    >> God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that those
    >> believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    >> Remember those who have laid down their life for our freedom.
    >> God bless America.
    >> Jay Willingham, Esquire

    >Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146
    >Physics Department |
    >Washington and Jefferson College |
    >Washington, PA 15301 |

    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D., Computer Support Scientist
    Chemistry Department, Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, Colorado  80523
    phone: 970-491-7003 fax: 970-491-1801


    Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146 Physics Department | Washington and Jefferson College | Washington, PA 15301 |

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