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“This is God’s Country”

Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

Forget all you learned about how the United States was the first country ever to be founded under no particular religion. According to right-wing political celebrities such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the United States of America is indisputably a Christian nation. In recent speeches, both have declared that this is “God’s country” and that its founding documents are every bit as sacrosanct as Biblical Scripture. This is the kind of claim that drives me insane, as I just can’t grasp how so many people just accept it without question when the level of absurdity is literally astronomical.

Evangelicals and other fundamentalist Christians believe that the creator of the entire universe is a being much like themselves, which is already ridiculous. If they bothered to learn anything at all about science and cosmology, they’d know that human beings are one of billions of species who have ever walked the earth, that the earth itself is one of potentially trillions of planets orbiting the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy, which is merely one of hundreds of billions of galaxies or more in the universe. Do they seriously believe that of the hundreds of billions of galaxies God created, our Milky-Way is His favorite one? That of the trillions of planets in this galaxy, Earth is His favorite? That of the billions of species that have come into being and passed into extinction throughout this time, human beings are His favorite? And of every nation that has ever existed throughout history, the United States of America is His favorite?

Please. This is obscenely irrational. If the history of the universe were condensed into one year, the amount of time humans have existed wouldn’t even amount to a full second. Recorded history is but the tiniest fraction of a second, and American history is merely a fraction of that fraction. If God really created untold trillions of worlds and waited billions upon billions of years so that one particular country in one of those worlds could come into being, then God is one strange character to say the least. And what interest does God have in America anyway? He waited billions of years for its formation so He could what? Help it win wars? Seriously, what does God want with us if we’re so important to Him?

The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

One thing’s for sure—He couldn’t possibly be a fan of the United States government. There’s nothing these right-wingers loathe more than the government. So apparently God loves America but hates the American government. So it must be the people he loves. But wait, I thought half the people were damned godless liberals. America is filled with atheists and homosexuals and all kinds of other abominations, so I guess He really just loves churchgoing conservatives. He doesn’t love the United States of America—He loves the Red States of America.

And apparently there’s something intrinsically better about American churchgoing Christians than churchgoing Christians from other countries. Perhaps because America is the country He personally founded by, according to Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, guiding the hands of Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Never mind that Jefferson didn’t write the Constitution—God obviously guided the hands of whomever it was that did.

After all, it certainly sounds divinely inspired:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, June-July 1776

No doubt about it—that’s some eloquent expression of passionate, righteous ideals for you. All men are created equal. What a brilliant concept. Definitely something for America to be proud of. And who knows? Maybe it did come from God. Just like the U.S. Constitution, a part of which reads:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
-Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the original United States Constitution

Wait a minute, what’s this “three fifths” business? If I’m reading this correctly, it would seem that when we calculate how many representatives each state should have in the federal government, “free Persons” are to count as 1 and “other Persons” (i.e. black people—slaves) are to count as 3/5. So all men are created equal…but black people are 2/5 less equal then white people. As for women…don’t even ask.

This perfect, divinely inspired document has since been amended to count minorities and women just as equally as everybody else, but you’d think if God was guiding the hands of those men who wrote it (themselves nearly as holy and sacred as the Apostles) He would have had them get it right the first time. Unless He really did mean for blacks to be counted as 3/5 of a person and those less holy men of subsequent generations went and fucked it all up by reconciling it with that “all men are created equal” idea that God wrote in that other document. Whether one contradicts the other is just another Great Mystery—like how some passages in Genesis 2 contradict some passages in Genesis 1. Or maybe what God really meant was “all white men are created equal to other white men, all black men are created equal to other black men, all Hispanic men are created equal to other Hispanic men” and so on. I suppose one could interpret it that way.

So it seems I’ve failed to defeat the claim. Just because there are trillions of trillions of planets in the universe doesn’t mean this can’t be God’s favorite. And just because the United States of America has only existed for less than the blink of a cosmic eye doesn’t mean it can’t be God’s favorite country—even though He hates its government and half the people in it. Just because the Constitution contradicts the ideals of the Declaration of Independence doesn’t mean they couldn’t have both been divinely inspired. And in the mind of an evangelical Christian, if something that feels good to believe even might be true, it’s safe to assume that it must be true.

Thomas Jefferson, a deist who believed that God merely set the universe in motion and didn’t interfere in human affairs, a scholar who actually published his own version of the New Testament with all of the miracles and supernatural claims removed, must have been divinely inspired by the God whom he believed did not divinely inspire people to write the founding documents for a country which he and the other [Holy] Founders intended to be a Christian Nation. So all of us liberals who insist on a firm wall between Church and State should just shut up and face the facts—unless you’re a Christian, you’re not fully American, because the two are and were designed to be intertwined.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

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