“God Bless America”
By: Tom Butts
I was listening today as Rick Perry dropped his nomination for President of the United States. As I listened I kept noticing that it sounded much more like a sermon than a leader bowing out of a campaign. Normally I would have turned off the “noise” but kept listening. His words were a combination of secular sentences and Bible quotes.
Now I’m writing this as a person who truly believes in God. Yes, I get it from both sides, my Christian friends that say, “How can you embrace the gay lifestyle?” and my gay friends that say, “How can you believe in a made up person?” But this is a different article on a different day.
Last summer, I was again, watching television with my friend Shane visiting from Australia. President Obama was speaking and at the end did the obligatory “God bless you and God bless America.” I didn’t really notice until Shane looked at me and said, “Hey, can you go back a few seconds?” So I did. It played again, I’m sure I was on Twitter on my phone. He said, “Did you f*cking hear that? The President just talked about God.” This started to make me think. Had I been desensitized by the right wing? Why is my President saying that after each and every speech? So, I did some research.
I found this:
On the evening of April 30, 1973, Richard Nixon addressed the nation live from the Oval Office in an attempt to manage the growing Watergate scandal. It was a difficult speech for Nixon; he announced the resignations of three Administration officials, including Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, but Nixon nonetheless tried to sound optimistic. As he approached the end of his speech, Nixon noted that he had “exactly 1,361 days remaining” in his term and wanted them “to be the best days in America’s history.” “Tonight,” he continued, “I ask for your prayers to help me in everything that I do throughout the days of my presidency.” Then came the magic words: “God bless America and God bless each and every one of you.”
Almost 39 years ago was when a sitting President first spoke those words. The context was hardly an auspicious beginning for the phrase in the presidency, and it didn’t immediately catch on. Gerald Ford eschewed it, as did Jimmy Carter. But not Ronald Reagan. Reagan made “God bless America” the omnipresent political slogan that it is today.
Again, I’m writing this as I honestly hadn’t known anything different. You see, I’m 46, so when I was 7 years old this started happening. It was like “pledging allegiance” (again, a different article on a different day), it was something we all did and really, for me at least, there was no significance.
In my opinion, really, there’s no place for this in a Presidency. I don’t care if my President is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist; I just want them to be moral. Unfortunately I can’t imagine the backlash President Obama would receive if he decided to take it out of his speeches, some people still don’t think he’s American.
My point is, our secular nation is not being threatened by non-Christian values, it’s being threatened by Christianity itself. Let’s remember why we separated and fought to get away from England in the 1700s. We are a free nation, a secular nation, and this is something unique and wonderful. I’m hoping someone else takes the time to evaluate and has the nerve to talk about it with the Presidential Seal on the podium in front of him (or her).