Frank Bruni on the Ever-Thinning Line Between Church and State

The New York TimesFrank Bruni writes in today’s paper about our country’s “God Glut,” referencing Blake Page and Mikey Weinstein in the process:

Every year around this time, many conservatives rail against the “war on Christmas,” using a few dismantled nativities to suggest that America muffles worship.

Hardly. We have God on our dollars, God in our pledge of allegiance, God in our Congress. Last year, the House took the time to vote, 396 to 9, in favor of a resolution affirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. How utterly needless, unless I missed some insurrectionist initiative to have that motto changed to “Buck Up, Beelzebub” or “Surrender Dorothy.”

We have God in our public schools, a few of which cling to creationism, and we have major presidential candidates — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum — who use God in general and Christianity in particular as cornerstones of their campaigns. God’s initial absence from the Democratic Party platform last summer stirred more outrage among Americans than the slaughter in Syria will ever provoke.

God’s wishes are cited in efforts to deny abortions to raped women and civil marriages to same-sex couples. In our country God doesn’t merely have a place at the table. He or She is the host of the prayer-heavy dinner party.

Bruni fails to mention one of the most damning pieces of evidence in favor of his argument: That there is not a single member of the upcoming Congress who is openly non-religious. If that doesn’t say we have a “God” problem in our politics, I don’t know what does.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Jason Sullivan

    woo hoo …. First!

    • Sindigo

      Have I time-travelled back to 2004?

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      And here’s your prize… Fuck you.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Why some Christians are so sensitive about Christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.e.b2 Paul Edward B

    It’s the God delusion.  There are people in this country who are turning America into a religion, right down to the silly (yet frightening) belief that the Constitution was created by God. 

    • Sindigo

      I’d never looked at it like that before. You have a point.

      It’s weird that the same people who would promote the idea that the Constitution was created by God would be so keen to ignore it when it suits them.

      Actually, considering how they can ignore parts of the Bible whilst holding others in the regard they do I guess it isn’t weird at all.

  • Octoberfurst

     Yes we are a God-soaked society. In God We Trust is on our currency, Presidential candidates feel obligated to mention how much they love the baby Jesus, Christian billboards advocating turning back to God are everywhere, you can’t get away from it. It literally makes my head spin.
       Christians feel free to push their religion everywhere.  On Facebook I have a number of friends who are religious and they post stuff about how much Jesus loves you and that people should repent, etc. I see it in my feed and just roll my eyes but don’t comment. But if I post something that even slightly questions religion I get criticized. Just last week I posted a humorous picture with the caption, “Oh so you’re praying for me. That must be hard.”  I immediatelygot two responses from Christian friends taking me to task for “mocking” their beliefs & saying that God really does answer prayer–blahh, blahh, blahh.  So they can push their Jesus stuff all they want & that’s ok but if I post something expressing skepticism about belief then I am the bad guy?  It drives me nuts.

  • C Peterson

    It seems to me that the wall between state and church is getting stronger, not thinner. The sort of abuses we see today have been going on for decades, or even since the founding of the country. But in recent years, because of secularist activism, these abuses are being brought to light. They are being challenged, and in the majority of cases, those challenges are successful.

    The appearance of a loss of secularism is the result of a kind of selection bias because we are now exposing so many examples of abuses. It’s like the illusion that we currently live in a period of higher crime, violence, or child abuse- all false (the 1950s and 1960s saw the peak of those things in the U.S., and we’re currently at a historical low). Our perception is based on the stories we’re exposed to, and can be contrary to reality.

    I think our country is becoming more secularized.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

      I agree mate. You are. The pushback to the Religious Right is almost Newtonian now…. its gaining traction, and the more your clownshoes whores you call politicians and judges play the god card and rage about legitimate rape etc the more momentum the pushback will gain.

      Personally I recommend you not only refuse to vote for any candidate for any office, from the local school board to the Senate. who plays the god card, I recommend you make that refusal as public as possible through the media and writing to said goofballs and doofuses to let them know why. That will help get the ball rolling.

      That said chum, from this side of the Atlantic the USA still looks like Iran Lite.

  • Aagonzal

     ”Last year, the House took the time to vote, 396 to 9, in favor of a resolution affirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto. How utterly needless, unless I missed some insurrectionist initiative to have that motto changed to “Buck Up, Beelzebub” or “Surrender Dorothy.””
    Yes, but is this the whole story? By some accounts, nearly 200 members of congress define “God” as an acronym for Gold, Oil, and Democracy (or drugs). According to infowars.net, many people in congress and in politics claim to “love God” so they can get support. 

    “We have God in our public schools, a few of which cling to creationism”

    You can’t be serious. Every year more and more bibles are taken out of schools and replaced with other books, some even related to the works of Aleister Crowley.

    “and we have major presidential candidates — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum — who use God in general and Christianity in particular as cornerstones of their campaigns. ”None of which won, by the way. If America was this overly religious nation that the author is arguing for, wouldn’t one of these candidates won?”God’s initial absence from the Democratic Party platform last summer stirred more outrage among Americans than the slaughter in Syria will ever provoke”

    Maybe in 70+ year olds (which even at that, I doubt) but in people 40 and younger, this wasn’t really noted, and many have become outraged over the deaths in syria. 
    “God’s wishes are cited in efforts to deny abortions to raped women and civil marriages to same-sex couples.”
    Isn’t it funny that if someone hits a pregnant woman in the stomach and the baby dies, they are charged with murder in the first degree? Yet a woman can get an abortion because it is “not a human”. What a contradiction.Also, the verses in the bible condemning homosexuality that are used by christians are actually out of context quotes. Often times, homosexuality means something else, or God condemns it so that a tribe or people can reproduce.

    • The Other Weirdo

       I stopped reading once I saw ‘infowars’ used a cite without irony.


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