Here is an excellent, excellent, (did I mention excellent?) article by Frank Bruni who in my mind is become a better and better opinion writer for the NYT. I admire his guts for tackling an issue that most mainstream papers or journalists simply deemed "too hot to handle": the fact that we have too much religion crap in American politics!
Bob Kerrey’s political career spanned four years as the governor of Nebraska and another 12 as a United States senator from that state, during which he made a serious bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. In all that time, to the best of his memory, he never uttered what has become a routine postscript to political remarks: “God bless America.”
That was deliberate.
“It seems a little presumptuous, when you’ve got the land mass and the talent that we do, to ask for more,” he told me recently.
But there was an additional reason he didn’t mention God, so commonly praised in the halls of government, so prevalent a fixture in public discourse.
“I think you have to be very, very careful about keeping religion and politics separate,” Kerrey said.
We Americans aren’t careful at all. In a country that supposedly draws a line between church and state, we allow the former to intrude flagrantly on the latter. Religious faith shapes policy debates. It fuels claims of American exceptionalism.
Read the rest here.
My favorite parts:
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.”
I'm going to start using "Buck Up, Beelzebub" more often, LOLZ
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.
This is SO TRUE. and it is disgusting. We do not live in a theocracy, though it seems many would love it if that were the case.
Kerrey labels himself agnostic, but said that an active politician could get away with that only if he or she didn’t “engage in a conversation about the danger of religion” or advertise any spiritual qualms and questions.
“If you talk openly about your doubts,” he said, “you can get in trouble.”
To me that doesn’t sound like religious freedom at all.
Religious faith shapes policy debates. It fuels claims of American exceptionalism.
I won't deny America has done some magnificent achievements, but then so has the rest of the developed world. But the rest of the developed world doesn't brag about it as much as the Americans, they just go quietly about their business. The biggest braggarts from what I have noticed and seen are the bible bashing zombies.
Exceptionalism arises because of feelings of an inferior nature, the bible bashing zombies deep down may realise that other countries are just as good as their country, so to cover up their inferiority complex they brag how exceptional their country is with god's help! So drumming it into the fence sitters so some of them start to believe the same pile of dung as the bible bashing zombies.
Yes, the belief in American exceptionalism is parallel to religious belief; it's not based on facts or evidence, it's an article of faith.
The crazy: If God talks to me, I must be exceptional.
The gullible: For God to talk to me I have to become exceptional.
It works both ways and you wind up with crazies leading the gullible.
I fully agree with what Kerry said.
Great article. "Buck up Beezlebub" I will be using from now on, excellent. Every time someone says god bless I'll reply with those three words. =)
Buck up Beezlebub!
Did you know that Alexis de Tocqueville, who first stated "The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional" in his book Democracy in America after having taken years to travel all over the USA, is the misinterpreted source of American Exceptionalism. However, he also qualified that what he meant by that:
> "The Anglo-Americans are not only united by these common opinions, but they are separated from all other nations by a feeling of pride. For the last fifty years, no pains have been spared to convince the inhabitants of the United States that they are the only religious, enlightened, and free people. They perceive that, for the present, their own democratic institutions prosper, whilst those of other countries fail; hence they conceive a high opinion of their superiority, and are not very remote from believing themselves to be a distinct species of mankind."
> David Barton created from the first sentence above and other cherry picked quotes the term American Exceptionalism in the mid 1980's. He attributed it to de Tocqueville and then went on to make up his own egomaniacal definition that basically paints America as better than any other country. The term now is in standard usage by the tea party and most conservatives, ostensibly placing the USA in the leadership position to dominate the rest of the world economically and militarily no matter who protested. What is not mentioned anywhere but can be seen by the quote from de Tocqueville's book is that de Tocqueville was insulting the US not complimenting it. Chris Rodda does a great job of exposing that truth and many of the lies of David Barton. David has finally disgraced himself in the eyes of reputable xtian and non xtian historians alike with the pulling of his latest book on Jefferson off the shelves by his publisher for so many lies and inaccuracies. Leave it to Glenn Beck to start publishing it again so the lies will continue to flow out to the ignorant sheeple. Anyway....American Exceptionalism for me is a disgusting term as it is used today.
For anyone who enjoys really thorough historical investigation, especially as it regards Barton and Beck's religious claims you should read Liars for Jesus by Chris Rodda. This book has been out a couple years back when Beck was still on Fox and Barton was his only "historian", dishing out confirmation bias by the 50 gallon drum each week.
Rodda does exhaustive research and documentation to refute pretty much ALL of Bartons major claims. If Barton is not lying outright he is patching together or leaving parts out of quotes so that what ends up in his books are agregious misrepresentations of what the original quote author intended to say. Barton owns many historical documents and books but only interprets them in ways that support his point of view. Rodda dissects every Barton misstep with glee. (she has several videos on youtube that are also great to watch) A classic is that Barton claims Congress printed bibles for use in our schools. I will not go into the whole story which is kind of amusing about a guy (Aitken if I remember correctly) who personally printed 10,000 bibles and was trying to dump them cuz no one was buying them. He badgered Congress, and had other religious entities badger Congress to take them off his hands but all Congress would agree to was to have 2 chaplains read his bible for accuracy. They did so and Congress allowed him to put a stamp in his bibles stating that his bible was accurate according to the US Congress but that was it. Congress did not authorize nor personally print any bibles for any reason. Barton claims they did so specifically for use in our school system.
Chris Rodda so wanted the information in Liars for Jesus to get out to the general public that she actually made a pdf of her entire book available for free. Last I heard it was still available on her web site. But if you want to read it and can afford 12 bucks or so please buy it and support Chris Rodda. She really deserves it.
I forgot to mention that Democracy in America was published in two volumes. The first was published in 1835 and the second in 1840 in case some of you thought his remarks were more recent.