Skip to comments.Perspective: Why I sit out "God Bless America"
Posted on 06/05/2013 12:08:35 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Special to The Washington Post
I am a Methodist minister and a Washington Nationals fan. I was there on Opening Day in 2005 at old RFK Stadium in Washington, and I try my best to plan my summer around Nats home games. I have only one issue with the ballpark experience, and its not with the beer prices. Its with God Bless America.
In his May 15 column, Washington Post writer John Kelly described the odd feeling of not knowing whether to stand during the singing of this song in the middle of the seventh inning. Like Kelly, I dont want to come off as anti-American if I remain seated. I stand for the The Star-Spangled Banner, the acknowledgment of returning soldiers, and for Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Because Im a minister, it might seem odd for me not to stand for God Bless America, too. But I sit to stand up for my religious beliefs.
One hot Sunday afternoon last season, I did not rise for God Bless America. In a beer-soaked tone of voice that wasnt pleasant, a gentleman several rows behind me told me to stand up. I reminded him that I dont have to.
This incident made me think more about the question: I love this country and dont want to live anywhere else. But being pressured to stand up at a baseball game for a song thats essentially a prayer seems, well, un-American. It feels like being pushed into the river for a baptism I didnt choose. Its an empty ritual, and one that I think doesnt hold much theological water.
What we join together to say, sing and stand up for says something about us as a people. I think it matters. At ballparks across the country, we are expected to participate in what can be described only as a prayer to ask Gods blessings on our nation. As nice as blessings are, singing this song doesnt feel like it has integrity the way singing our national anthem does.
Im reminded of the admonition not to pray just to be seen by others. More important, though, Im concerned that this is a myopic way to exercise faith. I imagine that the God I believe in isnt interested in dispensing special nationalistic blessings. (Or, perhaps more to the point, blessings for our bullpen, error-free fielding and sufficient run support.) When we ask for blessings to be bestowed only on us, we are in danger of seeing ourselves as set apart from the world. Faith is global, and one nation doesnt get any more or less of God than any other.
Asking for Gods blessing for us or me ignores greater needs in our world. We should ask a bigger question: How can we get this blessing to all? I want God walking with and standing beside every single person on this Earth and every country.
Stepping back, this also raises the question: Why do we all too frequently seek to invoke rituals that, in the end, undermine our common bonds? Not everyone in our nation or at the ballpark shares the same beliefs. From which god are we asking these blessings? What does the good secular humanist or atheist do during this song? Are we to assume that all deities will be in concert for those who believe in more than one?
This god business how (and whether) we conceive of the divine is messy, even in our houses of worship. At a ballgame, where most of us have come to root for the Nats, it just doesnt fit. We shouldnt make a grand assumption that were all of one belief. The one thing that we do, in fact, have in common is the love of baseball. Its a powerful, communal thing when we cheer together even if were cheering for opposite teams. Yes, this even applies to Phillies fans.
So the next time you see me sitting down during God Bless America, dont give me the hairy eyeball (as Kelly described it) or say Im un-American. In our great country, each of us has the right to his or her own religious beliefs, and we celebrate our nations diversity and plurality. My deeply held and sincere religious beliefs just dont countenance this ritual.
Besides, dissent is patriotic. We have the right to sit down when everyone else stands up.
See also here from the Washington Post:
TTILE: Strike God Bless America from the seventh-inning stretch
See also here in USA TODAY:
Ministers reason for sitting during God Bless America at the ballpark
I don’t mind standing, or singing either for that matter.
I wish God would Bless America, we need it now more than ever.
Mr Marsh , sir you are an idiot.
I can’t tell if the guy has an actual point or not.
He sounds like an idiot.
Left the Methodist denomination 20 years ago and have not regretted that decision one bit.
What a moron.
Jesus taught us to pray for God to "give US this day our daily bread." The song is an acknowledgment that our blessings come from God and if other nations want to get the blessings of God, they can change the lyrics to include their nations.
This kind of knee jerk globalist politically correct hogwash is ridiculous.
He could stand and sing "God Bless the Universe, the World that I Love" if he's so concerned about far away people that he refuses to pray for his neighbors.
The Complete Fool
No surprise he is a Methodist. I experimented with the Methodist Church for a couple years on my wife’s behalf but quickly left after discovering that not one I met will take a stand on anything. Back to a SBC church as fast I could.
RE: I imagine that the God I believe in isnt interested in dispensing special nationalistic blessings. (Or, perhaps more to the point, blessings for our bullpen, error-free fielding and sufficient run support.) When we ask for blessings to be bestowed only on us,
ONLY? This man is delusional. No one is asking God to ONLY bless America to the exclusion of others.
Sometimes a song is just a song.
The fallacy in his reasoning is his assumption that asking God’s blessing on America somehow excludes everyone else. This is a patriotic hymn, intended to envoke God’s blessing on our country. When one asks God’s blessing on a specific group, church or newborn baby, one does not exclude anyone else. This is a common liberal lie. Recognizing X DOES NOT exclude Y. To claim otherwise means everyone is just a part of the faceless masses...the foundation of liberal/progressive ideology.
I suspect this frock-disguised liberal has no problem asking God’s blessings on his parishoners, his own children and possibly grandchildren, certain friends in distress, and on and on and on. Belittling the invocation of God’s blessing on our country, and trying to excuse it with the lie that it excludes everyone else, is simply evidence that the reason he won’t envoke the blessing is because he doesn’t want it.
I don’t mean to imply that folks should be forced or shamed into standing - but his reasoning is invalid, which means he is hiding his true reasons.
I have a problem with the title. It should be God Bless Vespucciland.
This Land--Woody Guthry (1951)
Bear in mind that the melody was stolen from a gospel song--which I much prefer over Guthrie's version:
The Fire Song--The Carter Family (1930)
Look at me, look at me. I’m most righteous and perfect and ...
Methodism has some real numbskulls in its ministerial class.
Maybe we should just wipe the slate and start all over again.
This guy acknowledges it’s a prayer for blessing, but he doesn’t want to stand because it might offend, make no difference, etc., etc.
I suppose he hasn’t really thought about the words. It’s a prayer that I can say Amen to.
BTW, I am a fully ordained for decades, practicing Methodist Minister.
Kind of odd what a Methodist minister will take a “stand” on... The UMC is pro-homo marriage, pro-abortion, and pro-many other things that are against God’s Word. So why has he taken this “stand”?
Of course - I know of absolutely no reason to stand for “God Bless America”. The National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”, should be respected by standing. But just because some drunk baseball fan thinks you should stand for God Bless America... no...
no problem, with WashDC now attacking Christian (and Jewish) faith (”elections have consequences!”)... pretty soon this supposed minister of the gospel will be sent to the Peoples’ Re-Education Center... to learn some “socially useful trade” instead of spreading religious opiate to the masses.......... like, perhaps, “community organizing” for the local Communist Party cell boss.
and he won’t be allowed to sit through the Communist Internationale party song, he’ll be standing up and applauding (or else!)