You're Overreacting:
'God Bless America'
Not Christian
Michael Morrison

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Michael Morrison"
Subject: Re: They Even Got America's Favorite Pastime!!
Date: October 25, 2001 6:30 AM

It's easy to portray me as having overreacted as long as you fail to understand what I actually said and read into it things that I did not say.

I don't care what the song once was, that's irrelevant to what I'm trying to point out: "God Bless America" has a new meaning today, and a new context, and it is this context which makes its gratuitous use in public life so objectionable to me.

What was once an innocuous and rather moving song has now become the anthem of the movement to dismantle the Constitutional protections of the separation of religion from government. The "victory" that this song has attained in gaining government endorsement has changed the meaning of this song forever. The song "God Bless America" represents their victory, especially considering the recent vote in Congress, and the song "God Bless America" is now their anthem. It is this current context that is motivating many to support its use in public venues (such as, I hear, now, Portland Trail Blazer games), and it is this context (and this context only) which makes this particular song so objectionable.

Why can't we leave the politics and religion out of even a damn ball game? There's gotta be some places we can go without being sales-pitched for religion!

My objection is that a song which has been taken out of its original context and been given such a divisive meaning ought not be played in such public contexts as ball games. If the function is government sponsored, I suggest that they cannot play it. The extent to which professional sports is connected to government sponsorship is dubious at best, but I think the ball clubs' moral responsibility of setting an example and being as fair and as inoffensive to as many as possible is a valid reason to at lease raise the issue for discussion.

I am now predicting that the song "God Bless America" eventually nudges the song "The Star Spangled Banner" out of its position as the National Anthem. People of all stripes have wanted to replace that song with a more singable song, and the song "God Bless America" meets that criteria. It would also be a shoe-in during this, its peak of popularity. It would also be such a victory that we fighting the state-church battle would have a tough time overcoming the impact of such a move.

So, asking the ball clubs to stop playing a patently divisive song which has extremist political meaning and is the anthem of a patently un-American (albeit popular) movement is overreacting? I guess one could see it that way. I am more interested in trying to keep my Religious Liberty from going down the drain, and am willing to go on record as having overreacted because the ball clubs (and not my hometown's basketball arena) has inserted a song that is not only religious but has this special added meaning which I have discussed.

I certainly hope that a few people are willing to suffer the epithet of one who overreacted if these folks try to make this thing our national anthem, that's all.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.