Of the Western, secular nations, the USA seems the most inclined to mix the religious and secular. At least as far as grassroots are concerned. A lot of citizens express an interest for the two realms to intermingle more. We see some of this creep up into higher leadership when religious fueled morality finds its way into law making. Given the variety of moral compasses in this nation, this is the biggest reason for keeping religion and government an arm’s length apart. And yet we see notions of faith and God wrapped up in patriotism. Many patriotic songs and national regalia mention God and heaven. Unfortunately, these historical instances of overlap are used to push not only integration, but something more like domination.
Over the 4th of July weekend, I saw multiple church signs with this message, “Blessed is the country whose God is Lord.” Many if not most religions have positive messages on how to live life in an upstanding way. The core tenants of many world religions are eerily similar. For example, many promote principles like: don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t hurt others, help those less fortunate than yourself, treat your neighbor as yourself, etc. A country ruled by these principles, is not a bad idea… maybe even an improvement on ‘man’s law’.
But in actuality, the principles and resultant system we would end up with would not be holistic or inclusive. It seems Americans that support bridging the secular and religious, wish to do so with a very specific type of religion from the wide spectrum of spiritual traditions in America. The masses of spiritual traditions would not only face the boundary of secularism, but the boundary marked by this narrow, sanctioned expression of spirituality. When ‘solutions’ bring only a small portion of spiritual inclinations into the public sphere, we would find divisions increase. The religious / secular divide is not easily overcome. I like to entertain thoughts of crossing this divide with inclusivity and holism. Even this scenario is precarious and would have its share of challenges. The narrow, Christian ideal many Americans have would be downright dangerous.
I’m all for, “God Bless the USA”. But no authority can dictate how to express faith in that God, so long as it is done peacefully.