Monday, July 02, 2007

God's Allegiance

Blogging Against Theocracy!
With a full sense of irony I want to say, God bless Bil Keane.

See, I was trying to decide what to write for the Blogswarm Against Theocracy, and not having much luck. I had settled on writing about my profound ambivalence toward Barack Obama and his religiousness, but not enthusiastically - too many other people have said pretty much what I think. And then I opened up my father's Sunday paper and was presented with this:

One Nation Under Me
Wow. What perfect timing.

Because, yeah, I suppose the "one nation under Me" bit is funny - maybe, for certain values of "funny" - but ... what on Earth does God say at the beginning of the pledge? What we do?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America"?

That's disturbing on many levels - not least of which is that Bil Keane either didn't think of it, or didn't mind it. (That smug grin on little Billy's face is pretty disturbing in itself, come to think of it.) I mean, think about it for a minute: God owes allegiance to the USA?

This is worlds beyond the craziness of those people who think that God has a special place in his heart for the good old US of A - either smiting us something fierce because of 'teh gay' or the feminists or the atheists or whatever (Pat Robertson and Westboro Baptist Church aren't that far apart), or else protecting us and sending us out on divine missions to spread democracy, which apparently - though he's a King - he has a fondness for. It's beyond those who sing the National Hymn
Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast,
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide and Stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.
and think it's an historical description of the country's founding and a workable blueprint for the future - a desirable blueprint, to boot.

The National Hymn has this line in it, too: Thy true religion in our hearts increase. That's the line that should make everyone sit up and take notice - when people start talking about the "true religion" and "thy Word our law", is intolerance - and its accompanying activities - far behind? No.

And that really is the heart of theocracy, isn't it? As Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, 2002 defines it, theocracy is
: government of a state by the immediate direction or administration of God b : government or political rule by priests or clergy as representatives of God
God himself isn't showing up to run things, but "representatives of God" is what "Thy true religion" is all about. This administration, from the president down, is filled with people who talk Jesus all the time, who funnel government money to "faith-based initiatives", and who say (if not all of them believe) that God chose Bush to run the country.

And now we have a cartoonist whose characters have always been religious - Catholic, in fact (who else prays, as Dolly did once "Hail Mary"?), though gently so, no overt intolerance - is actually making a joke which depends on the notion that God is an American. (Keane might be surprised at how quickly the Falwells and Robertsons of this country would turn on the Catholics once they've achieved their first goal - much as the theistic creationists would be surprised if the Wedge comes to pass. But that is by the way.)

But, on second thought, perhaps that's not such a bad idea after all. Perhaps, if God really means it, if he's really pledging allegiance to the republic, then he can straighten out his followers on just what the republic is really like.

Yeah. I know. Figure the odds. Their God thinks like they do. His Word be Our Law. Amen.

No, thanks. The United States wasn't founded by religion (though it's true that (a) many of the Founders were religious and (b) many of the original settlers were fleeing someone else's Established Religion (a lesson our own theocrats have failed to learn)). The Constitution is America's sacred document, not the Bible. No one group's god runs our country - even one who's a citizen.

Go to First Freedom First to find out what you can do.

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At 5:05 PM, July 09, 2007 Blogger archer had this to say...

Keane has been doing that strip for at least fifty years. It was funnier without the religion. Come to think of it, everything is funnier without the religion.

At 2:33 AM, July 10, 2007 Blogger Nyles had this to say...

I thought Bil's son Jeff was doing the comic now. Maybe Billy looks so sanctimonious because Jeffy is taking a swipe at his older brother.


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