I’m astounded when I consider the number of my blog posts that were inspired by something I saw on Facebook. Maybe this is just the geek in me, but Facebook is slowly becoming a relic of a time gone by, (mostly) filled with people of little tolerance and narrow-minded thoughts. I say this delicately, since I do still have quite a few sane friends on the popular social network. Still, I see ridiculous photos and political claims on a daily basis. Normally, “ignorance is bliss” sums up my thoughts on them. But once in a blue moon, I’ll see something that absolutely grinds my gears. Not surprisingly, a single image inspired the long diatribe you are about to read.
The image above is where it all started. I saw this on Tuesday, and for some reason it grabbed me and pulled me in. I read the text over and over again, trying to understand why anyone would make this point. And that’s when I realized that the point was idiotic. Ridiculous. Absolutely moronic. I came to understand, as I stared relentlessly at my computer screen, that too many people are intertwining religion and patriotism. This is done in such a way that the two are inseparable. But the fact is, they’re not always dependent on one another.
I only have one problem with the image. It’s not that people are challenging Obama on the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer being removed from schools. Nor does my problem lie with people fighting for something they strongly believe in. My only issue with this is that it makes a false claim. Period. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s just wrong.
We can’t just make the claim that anyone who doesn’t believe in God isn’t a “real” American. It’s absolutely absurd. And yet, I see this kind of argument almost every day. Are we really at that point in society? Have we reached a roadblock, where you have to be a Christian to be called an American? This is insane. I know plenty of people that are atheist, agnostic, and even Muslim, but I don’t hold that against them when I consider how patriotic they are. As a growing Christian, I’m honestly ashamed at this assumption that only faithful people can be called productive members of this country. I almost cannot believe that someone would actually suggest that this is a valid point. But then I remember that this is the Internet, where anything is possible.
I can think of at least half a dozen atheists that I know, and they are all as patriotic as the next guy. Having something to follow and believe in is great, and I hope that everyone can find peace in that. But it isn’t always directly related to patriotism, and it’s time that more people realize this. Simply put, I don’t base a person’s love for their country on their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).
Since we’re arguing that any non-believer can’t be considered a real American, what about the brave men and women serving in the military overseas? There are plenty of atheists and agnostics in the armed forces, putting their lives on the line next to Christian soldiers. Are they not patriotic? Do they not fight for their country? We give so much love and respect to our veterans, because they do so much for us. But by this warped logic, their sacrifices, injuries, and losses are only patriotic if they believe in God. Does that make any sense?
This is where we’ve let our opinions become too out of touch with reality. Many Christians have a vision of how this country should be, with everyone believing in God and going to church every Sunday. In the past, these were just opinions. But we’ve reached a point where some people think these opinions are the actual basis of the real world. They create this fictional America, where everyone does believe in God and go to church. Once this pseudo-America has been established, in their mind, anyone that doesn’t agree with these opinions must be a treasonous, unpatriotic bigot.
But the truth is, not everyone in America believes in God. Not everyone goes to church every Sunday. Choosing to love your country is something you should do for your own reasons. If your faith gives you hope in this country, great! If you’re patriotic because you love having the freedom to be an agnostic or an atheist, great! Either way, don’t put someone else down because their motivation to love this country is different from your own.
As a final point, if we’re going to couple faith and patriotism together, does that mean that the people of Westboro Baptist Church are the most patriotic people in America? By the “belief in God = love for America” logic, these nutjobs should definitely be in that category. But why aren’t they?…..
Oh, right! I completely forgot that they make their children carry signs that say “God hates America,” they walk on American flags, and they constantly preach about how horrible this country is. How silly of me. But, since they believe in God, they must be real Americans, right? No? Didn’t think so.