Politics & Policy

Opposing ‘God Bless America’

A Christian minister preaches the religion of leftism.

If you were a Christian minister who was given the opportunity to write an op-ed piece for the Washington Post, what subject would you choose? War and peace? The decline in faith among America’s young people? The increasingly empty pews in mainstream Protestant churches? The ethical decline in society? Or any of myriad other morally and religiously troubling issues?

Well, not if you were a Methodist minister named James P. Marsh Jr.

For this man of the cloth, the issue troubling him so much that he had to write about in the Washington Post was . . . people standing and singing “God Bless America” at Washington National baseball games.

If you want to know how far much of mainline Christianity has declined, Pastor Marsh’s column would be a fine place to begin. Think back to any time in American history. It is hard to imagine that a Christian minister would have any reaction to his fellow Americans standing and singing “God Bless America” other than unalloyed delight.

But that was when mainline Christian ministers believed in Christianity, sought to bring fellow Americans to God, celebrated America, and hoped that God would bestow His blessings on this country. 

Or to put it another way: That was before many mainstream Christians embraced another religion — leftism, the most dynamic religion of the last hundred years. Leftism has influenced Western societies far more deeply than Christianity has since the beginning of the 20th century. And leftism has influenced far more Christians (and Jews) than Christianity (or Judaism) has influenced leftists.

It is difficult to detect a single Christian idea or belief among the reasons the minister has given for not standing for “God Bless America.” All his reasons are leftist boilerplate. Had he been identified as an official of the ACLU or a professor in some social-science department, no reader would have been surprised.

1. “I sit to stand for my religious beliefs.”

Presumably the minister’s “religious beliefs” are Christian. But how exactly does standing to sing “God Bless America” violate Christian beliefs? He doesn’t tell us. One would think that a Christian minister would be thoroughly delighted that tens of thousands of his fellow Americans were singing “God Bless America.”

2. “Being pressured to stand at a baseball game for a song that’s essentially a prayer seems, well, un-American. It feels like being pushed into the river for a baptism I didn’t choose.”

Only a true-believing leftist would label as “un-American” the people who stand and sing “God Bless America.”

3. “It’s an empty ritual, and one that I don’t think holds much theological water.”

Tens of thousands of Americans of all races and backgrounds standing and singing “God Bless America” is an empty ritual? And why doesn’t asking God to bless America “hold much theological water?” What is more theologically sound than asking God to bless America (or Canada, or the U.K., or Costa Rica, or Portugal, or any other free country)?

4. “I’m reminded of the admonition not to pray just to be seen by others.”

Who is James Marsh to judge the motivations of 30,000 people? And besides, when I stand at Los Angeles Kings hockey games as they honor a member of the armed forces, I do so in large measure precisely because I do want others, especially my son and other young people, to see me doing so.

5. “When we ask for blessings to be bestowed only on ‘us,’ we are in danger of seeing ourselves as set apart from the world. ”

Who but a leftist could read “God Bless America” as “God Bless only America?”

6. “Why do we all too frequently seek to invoke rituals that undermine our common bonds?”

Most of us think that this ritual strengthens our common bonds. Perhaps the pastor is unaware that the song was written by Irving Berlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant.

7. “What does the good secular humanist do during this song?”

The good secular humanist stands and sings “God Bless America.” Even most liberals stand and heartily sing this song at baseball games. You have to be not only left-wing but also foolish to protest this.

8. “We have the right to sit down when everyone else stands up.”

True. And the rest of us have a right express contempt for your decision and for your using Christianity to defend it.

— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

Dennis Prager — Dennis Prager’s latest book, The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code, was published by Regnery. He is a nationally syndicated radio show host and creator of PragerUniversity.com. © 2018 Creators.com.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More