In the theater of the absurd known as political conventions, the DNC played football with god this week. As you probably heard, the initial platform left the word g-o-d, out in favor of the word f-a-i-t-h. In fact, faith was a whole plank in the platform, which argued among other things that:
Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. … Blah, blah, blah…
That does not sound very secular to me or to many others. However, the DNC platform did not explicitly use the three-letter word g-o-d. This was in contrast to the RNC platform had 12 mentions of g-0-d:
Reaffirm that our rights come from God; May God continue to shed his grace on the United States of America; God-given talents; God-given individual rights; God-given, inalienable,inherent rights; God-given right of self-defense (which is why we have the right to bear arms); taking advantage of all our American God-given resources; be good stewards of the God-given natural beauty and resources; God-given talent and motivation; and finally, we condemn decisions by activist judges to deny children the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety, including “Under God,” in public schools and encourage States to promote the pledge.
You might also note that the Fox News count of 12 was wrong. Two of the ten were from phrases that were highlighted in the margins. Clearly, Fox News didn’t read the document. They just did a simple word count.
To make matters worse, the DNC buckled to the pressure and in a very awkward and controversial voice vote added:
We need a government that … gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God–given potential.
along with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which is another religiously charged issue.
So, why do politicians keep pushing the God agenda given that secular America is now 19% of the population? As Annie Laurie Gaylor from the Freedom From Religion Foundation noted:
Supporting gay marriage was considered a political kiss of death for a presidential candidate . . . until suddenly it wasn’t. Maybe someday not too far away, we’ll increasingly hear public officials praise Americans for being able to believe or disbelieve as they like.
We got a small taste of such basic social acceptance in Rep. Jared Polis’ speech on Tuesday, when he added:
“. . . ladies and gentlemen, now is our chance to tell the dividers no, tell the special interests and cynical Washington insiders no, tell the lobbyists and PACs no, and tell our fellow countrymen and women, gay and straight, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and nonbelievers, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian, east and west, north and south; it is time to tell them yes, together we are stronger, together we are better, together we are America.”
Be sure to read the whole essay, as Annie Laurie makes some powerful points. Secular Americans are simply asking to be recognized and not belittled. The God fixation has got to stop. In 2016, let’s move beyond the grandstanding and discuss the issues that really matter to ALL Americans.