“Prayer Breakfast” Fallout: The Real Problem

Of course, the President was correct in citing historical crimes committed in the name of Christianity (and the response of the reactionaries was utterly predictable). But I don’t think his critique went nearly far enough. After all, no reasonable person today identifies with the acts of “bad guys” like slave owners, the KKK, or the Inquisition. But I think we are overdue for some scrutiny of the “good guys”. For example, consider the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” — it’s a wonderful, stirring march, but, oh my, the lyrics… They 100% identify the Union cause with the will of God, and anoint the Union army as His specific instrument. It’s almost as if it were a football team. My contention is that this kind of thinking constitutes the root of the evil, yet it is pervasive at all levels of society, from Cub Scouts to prep sports to the military academies to the White House (at least under certain administrations).

Any plausible concept of God would acknowledge that He is interested in individual souls, and therefore would not and could not take “sides”. Under examination, it is clear that the idea that God is on “my” side presupposes that “my” soul is of more concern to Him than the other’s soul — an implicit value judgment. In fact, it constitutes an act of bigotry. And every coach, every preacher and every politician who has ever claimed God’s endorsement for his cause has in effect committed a hate crime, by casting his adversaries as unworthy of God’s consideration.

That may sound like a pretty broad condemnation, but I don’t see a compelling counter-argument that doesn’t involve specific revelations of “God’s will”, which, of course, is the presumption that I am attacking. It is possible that one can only see these things clearly from an atheist perspective.

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