Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh your God

Mainstream American life is supposed to be secular, but it's suffused with a creeping religiosity that's hard to overlook.

Our country was of course founded by religious pilgrims, and although they did provide for the separation of church and state via the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, they were also cool with printing "In God We Trust" on our currency. A visitor from another planet might ask why; visitors from other nations certainly have.

Centuries later, an indignant Congress added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance during our Cold War rivalry with the "godless" Russians, a mistake that has become so ingrained over time that attempting to correct it would now be political suicide.

Cities and states have long erected big religious displays in public spaces around holiday time. Why exactly? Just because my religion is generally included doesn't mean I don't find the whole exercise weird, unnecessary and wrongheaded. You say "Grinch," I say "American."

Offended yet? I'm almost done.

To me, your religion is not unlike your politics or your sex life: do whatever makes you happy, do me the courtesy of keeping it out of my face, and I'll return the favor.

Yes, I acknowledge the apparent hypocrisy of proclaiming this on my blog (where, for that matter, I've also ranted about politics), but you came here, I didn't send this to you, so I don't consider it an uninvited polemic. Plus, this isn't really about religious views, it's about how we express them. Call it a metarant.

I was heartened by President Obama's acknowledgment of nonbelievers in his inauguration speech. It was a healthy reminder that there are those among us who don't believe, and they're every bit as American as the pious, and as human. Maybe even as blessed.

Whether you're a believer or not, surely you can see the merits of this idea, and now that today's sermon is over, here's why the topic is on my mind.

Buzzed-about comedian Jamie Kilstein is playing the Lakeshore Theater, tomorrow through Saturday. An avowed atheist who once entitled a show "There Is No God and It's Okay," Kilstein is defiant and opinionated, not to mention funny, all useful traits for a standup comic.

Get on down to Broadway and Belmont and check him out. My Flavorpill preview is here.

Metarant over.

p.s. Does a sermon on secular humanism qualify as ironic?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

while the first whites to overtake the oldest territories that would become our nation were indeed christian religious fanatics fleeing persecution by mainstream europe, the men who founded the political structure of our nation were mainly "deists," as much zen spiritualists as anything else. modern evangelicals' claim to the continuation of the religious agenda of the framers is false, yet still believed by most americans - just as most still believe in creationism. in fact the christianization of america to its present extent is something the framers would oppose.

in fact, recent archaeology has revealed that the original, rejected motto to adorn our currency was, "mo money, mo problems."