One Nation, But Only Under A Republican God

There are two stories in the news today that I think are related, even though at first glance they don’t appear to be.

Here’s the first story from Reuters:

CHICAGO, Nov 12 – Political watchdog and secularist groups are asking the U.S. government to investigate whether Catholic bishops and a Christian evangelical group headed by preacher Billy Graham should lose tax breaks for telling followers how to vote in this year’s election.

Those tax breaks are reportedly “worth $145 billion in the past decade.” There was no comment from a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but a spokesman for Billy Graham, who actually signed his ad, said that it did not mention any candidate or political party. Hmm.

On Sunday, November 4—two days before the election—this very expensive full-page ad appeared in the Joplin Globe:

In the corner it says, “Paid Advertisement By The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,” and it is obvious the ad, which appeared in numerous publications, was a call to vote for Romney-Ryan and the Republican Party.

But the first thing I thought about when I saw that ad was how much money my late mother donated to Billy Graham and how disappointed she, as a life-long Democrat, would be to see what Graham had done.

I also thought about something else. When I was a kid, several of Billy Graham’s books were in the house, including a book that scared me to death, “World Aflame.” If nothing else, it was the cover that frightened me:

I was seven years old when that book came out. The earth engulfed in flames, and the threat of eternal damnation awaiting those who didn’t surrender to Jesus, tends to make a kid a little fearful, the kind of fear that never quite disappears, no matter how old one gets or how far one gets from the source.

In any case, the basis of Graham’s pro-Romney, pro-Republican political ad, and his ministry in general, is the kind of fear I felt profoundly as a kid, when I understood what that book was about. The line in the political ad about it being “vitally important” that “we” vote for “candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel” is telling.

In “World Aflame,” Graham wrote:

The Bible teaches that God is indeed a God of judgment, wrath, and anger.

And he speculated in the book that God will ultimately use “the elemental and creative form of fire” to destroy this earth and “bring into being” a new one, “a fire of judgment upon the wicked world.” He continued:

I believe the earth will be consumed by fire, not only because God said it, but because science has created weapons that can do it.

Consumed by fire. That’s the price to be paid for not following biblical principles, for not supporting the nation of Israel, which folks like Graham believe is the key to the End Times.

Consumed by fire. Presumably, that’s the price to be paid for not supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and the Republicans. What else can “vitally important” mean in the context of Billy Graham’s consumed-by-fire ministry, the same ministry that paid for that ad?

I mention all that to make the point that some of the people who would be moved by a Billy Graham ad, moved by a theological appeal to vote for Republicans, moved by a Bible-based fear, see themselves as living in an entirely different country than the one I live in. These folks were genuinely shocked that Barack Obama won a second term. They, like Mitt Romney himself, honestly could not believe it. Why didn’t the Bible-based fear work this time?

What kind of country is this? they asked. What happened to our America? The last line in Graham’s ad was this:

Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

Translation: If you don’t vote for Republicans then “one nation under God” is in jeopardy.

Yes, in jeopardy. And that leads me to the second story that came out today:

Just a week after President Barack Obama was re-elected, a petition by Texans for the right to secede from the rest of the country has garnered some 64,000 signatures, many more than the 25,000 signature threshold needed to get a response from the Obama administration.

The petition was made on the government’s “We the People” petitioning web site, along with secession petitions from at least 18 other states.

As I write, Texas now has more than 72,000 signatures. Locally, the Missouri secession petition has over 10,000 signatures. Oklahoma has over 11,000, Arkansas has almost 15,000, and Kansas is way behind at around 3,000.

So, what happened to “one nation under God“? These folks, many of whom I can safely assume are conservative Christians, don’t have a problem with the “under God” part of it, just the “one nation” part, particularly if they don’t get their way in a “vitally important” election, particularly if the nation doesn’t embrace the Republican Party.

Perhaps it is that Billy Graham and other Christian extremists, who claim to want us to be “one nation,” mean that we can only be so under their conception of God, which is a very Republican one. Otherwise, some of them want to take their states, and presumably their God, and go their own way.

Thus it is that those groups that are asking the government to investigate Graham and the Catholic bishops for their partisan advocacy are exactly right. If religious zealots want to put the fear of a Republicanized God into voters, and argue for one nation under that God, then the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for it.

_______________________

By the way, a counter-petition has been offered against the secessionists, one that suggests we should,

Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America.

So far, it has only about 2,400 votes.

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12 Comments

  1. “ust a week after President Barack Obama was re-elected, a petition by Texans for the right to secede from the rest of the country has garnered some 64,000 signatures” We can only hope they succeed. ;-)

    We are in the middle of a cold-political-civil-war and the republicans are losing. Christianity is slowly losing members to other beliefs such as “Pastafarianism.” http://www.venganza.org/

    How can a faith survive when it doesn’t have faith in itself? Christians would much rather vote for a white Mormon than a black christian who also happens to be an intelligent and solid family man.

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  2. janice reed

     /  November 13, 2012

    If all these folks really want to secede, I say, let ‘em all move to Texas. Cut off their Medicare and Social Security. We can build the wall that those folks are always talking about, between us and Texas, instead of Mexico. The rest of us are really getting sick of listening to their totally biased whining and lying. It would really be nice for the rest of us to be able to get a breath of clean fresh air, for a change.

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    • Janice,

      I understand how you feel, but there are a lot of Democrats in Texas, my sister and brother and nephew and their families being just some of them! So, I would offer a government-subsidized get-out-of-Texas-free card for anyone wanting to leave before we build that wall. Or how about “40 acres and a mule” to any Democrat who wants to leave?

      Duane

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  3. Treeske

     /  November 13, 2012

    I agree with above comments. Lets give them their own Malcontents’ island, I heard one is on sale in the Aegean! LOL

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  4. Yellow Dog

     /  November 13, 2012

    Okay, it’s time to set their world on fire and let them pay their fair share of taxes. OMG. I know for a fact the local Baptist Church in my town hands out a flyer the Sunday before the election on Tuesday that tells the people how to vote. Absolutely. I will keep one of those flyers next time I get one. They list who is pro life and who is not. Of course the Republican is always endorsed. Let them pay.

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    • Yellow Dog,

      I agree.

      In my town, Joplin, one of the biggest churches in the area (also a Baptist church) sits on some pretty expensive real estate on the busiest road we have. I have often wondered what that property would bring in to the county and city in terms of taxes, were a business sitting on it.

      Not to mention the taxes that the gazillion other churches, all churches, in this town are not paying.

      Duane

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  5. janice reed

     /  November 14, 2012

    Hey! I’m willing to stand behind any action taken to make churches pay their fair share. I figure if they want to be politicians, let them pay for the privilege. And I still like the idea of sending all the seceders to Texas. I even like the idea of 40 acres and a mule for those wanting to flee the invading Republicans. But, I do admit that the idea of putting them on an island completely off the continent does appeal to me

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  6. genegarman

     /  November 15, 2012

    To the degree church property is tax exempt, religion is established by law, which is a violation of the First Amendment.

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    • “To the degree church property is tax exempt, religion is established by law, which is a violation of the First Amendment.”

      The logic of that statement eluded me, Gene, until I looked up “establish” in the dictionary. I was thinking that it meant only “to set up”, but I see that it also means, “achieve permanent acceptance for (a custom, belief, practice or institution).” So, I believe you have a point. However, that might be contested by pointing out that anybody can set up a church and acquire the same kind of tax exemptions. Consider Scientology.

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