In God They Trust

As usual, I was listening to BBC radio this morning and they were running a piece on the role of religion, specifically Evangelical Christianity, in the upcoming Iowa Republican presidential primary caucus, and I was predictably disgusted by much of what I heard. The broadcast included a number of interviews with potential caucus goers, most of whom fell somewhere in the delusional, bigoted, uneducated (or perhaps wildly miseducated) range of the theo-political spectrum. For example, one person adamantly stated that the reason he has for supporting Michelle Bachman over Romney or some of the others is that the former is ‘biblically qualified’ and the latter are not. That this ‘biblical qualification’ appears to be nothing more than a reflection of the degree to which the candidates give lip service to extreme right-wing Christianity seems to have completely eluded voters such as this man. They’re just happy to hear the comforting religious words and phrases that make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And that’s all it’s really about: comfort. Ours is a chaotic, discomforting universe; a universe for which answers to its mysteries are, more often than not, mere windows to even greater mysteries. The utterance of the word ‘god’, however empty and relatively undefined that word remains, provides a facade of order masking the chaos that pervades our lives. In this light, it is no surprise to hear a sound byte on the radio of some plain-talking man stand up at a candidate’s town hall (I don’t recall which candidate) and ask what that candidate will do to “get our country back to In God We Trust, because our country was founded on In God We Trust” followed by the thunderous applause of the many like-minded religious zealots in attendance.

Of course, the United States of America was not founded on “In God We Trust.” The phrase was originally coined in 1861 by Abraham Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Salmon Chase, first printed on currency 3 years later, and not adopted as our nation’s official motto until 1954. Even the earliest of those dates, 1861, is far removed from the date upon which the constitutional foundation of our republic was signed into law in 1788. Well documented, also, is the aversion of the founders of our country to declare us a Christian nation, or a ‘nation under god’ (another phrase whose existence is a more recent invention than I suspect many theists are aware). I guess the historical reality of the role religion played in our nation’s foundations isn’t as personally comforting as the make-believe idea that we are a ‘Christian nation’ requiring a ‘man of faith’ to lead us as he is being lead by god, laying a warm, fuzzy, comforting blanket over us to protect us from the scary, chaotic universe in which we exist, at least until we finally break free from these worldly chains and join our god in his heavenly kingdom as reward for faithfully adhering to the arbitrary dogma of (insert one’s personal flavor of Christianity here).

Of course, many of us aren’t comforted by the idea that everything will be okay once we get to some fairy tale land called ‘heaven.’ We see very real problems in our country and world, problems that won’t be solved by prayer, or voting for the guy who gets our favorite mega church preacher to join him for a photo op on the campaign trail. For us, a candidate’s religious views can only be an executorial impediment if they cloud or influence his judgment, and at best will be a personal, private matter for him when he is not busy making rational, informed decisions regarding matters of state. What we seek are real-world
solutions, not quaint religious banter to do nothing but make us feel good inside. I guess that means we’re going to ‘hell.’

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One Response to “In God They Trust”

  1. Polly Andy Says:

    Hell is reading your snotty prose.

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