“Church of America” my Ass!12 April, 2008
Michael Medved (I hate to point anyone to his column lest the number of hits go up (but my readership is small (so if you want to read the whole depressing column, click here))) wrote a column explaining to America why it would be “hollowness and hypocrisy”, a “disconnec[tion] from the People”, and would make a mockery of “Winning the War on Islamo-Nazism” if an atheist became President. The article is, beginning to end, an attack on non-religious and atheist Americans. (Hat Tip to the Carpet Bagger)
Medved states (in all seriousness) that
the President functions as head of the “Church of America” – that informal, tolerant but profoundly important civic religion that dominates all our national holidays and historic milestones.
That’s right, folks. This mouthpiece of the radical right in American politics (you remember, the radical right that insists they are the only ones trul faithful to the Constitution) has somehow found, somewhere, something that makes the President of the United States of America the head of the Church of America. The steps he takes to arrive at this bizaare statement conflates federal holidays, the Queen of England, and Thanksgiving.
Because the President is the head of state and the head of government, he combines the English Prime Minister and the Queen (now there’s a vision you don’t want at oh-dark-early in the morning). Because the Queenister (so why did the founding fathers call the office President?) provides over “solemn and ceremonial” occasions, the President Queenister must issue, for instance,
the annual Thanksgiving proclamation. To whom would he extend thanks in the name of his grateful nation –-the Indians in Massachusetts?
(Actually, not a bad idea, since they are the ones who helped those naifs to survive in New England) He then goes on to, of course, bring up
the Pledge of Allegiance. Would President Atheist pronounce the controversial words “under God”? If he did, he’d stand accused (rightly) of rank hypocrisy. And if he didn’t, he’d pointedly excuse himself from a daily ritual that overwhelming majorities of his fellow citizens consider meaningful.
ARRRRGH!!! There are so many things wrong here, I don’t now where to begin. First, there’s the old appeal to popularity. Never mind that “under God” was put in during the Cold War to help ferret out all those nasty Commies, and prove (PROVE!) that we were better than the Soviets. Never mind that, nowhere in the Constitution, does it say that the President must make a pledge daily. Wait, though. It gets better (or worse, depending on whether you consider this comedy or tragedy):
what patriotic songs would our non-believer chief executive authorize for major celebrations and observances? “God Bless America” is out, obviously, as is “America the Beautiful” (with its chorus, “America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee.”) “My Country ‘tis of Thee” features an altogether unacceptable last verse (“Our father’s God to thee/Author of Liberty/To Thee we sing…”) and “The Star Spangled Banner” national anthem also concludes with a verse that could cause hives to the ACLU (“Then conquer we must when our cause it is just/And this be our motto: In God is Our Trust.”)
So, because patriotic songs, written in a very different time, mention a supreme being, an atheist would . . . . . what? Ban the singing of these songs? Change the words? Not sing? Apparently, the result would be much, much, much more sinister:
Skeptics may suggest that an atheist president would give the nation the long-overdue chance to purge itself of these inappropriate religious trappings in our governmental and public processes, but truly overwhelming majorities cherish such traditions. The notion of dropping or altering all references to God and faith on public occasions to avoid discomfort for a single individual amounts to a formula for a disastrously unpopular presidency. (and we know that current evangelical Christian has such a popular Presidency Queenistery)
See, there’s the proof. An atheist would remove all references to God. An atheist would ‘purge itself of these inappropriate religious trappings.’ Apparently, he’s afraid that America would actually live up to its own Constitution: separation of religion and government.
The entire article (read it, if you can stomach it) is one long appeal to religious anti-atheist bigotry and an appeal to popularity. What is sad is that this article most likely resonates with a large part (possibly a majority) of Americans. The idea that Christianity might have to give up its position of most-favoured religion literally scares the hell out of many Christians and, apparently, Michael Medved.
His idea that the President Queenister of the United States is the head of a Church of America and, thus, cannot be an atheist shows ignorance of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, laws and legal decisions passed and handed down in the past 220 years, and logic. Apparently, a secular person serving in a secular office would destroy the secular soul of America — a soul which is cared for by the head of the Church of America.