posted on 30 August 2016
Written by Frank Li
God is big in America! Not only has it been bigger here than anywhere else throughout the developed world (e.g. the former Western Europe), it also feels bigger in America during an election year like this, although the overall trend of “faith in God” has been down over the past two decades (Religion - Gallup)!
Why is God so big in America? Well, it's a complex question requiring a long answer.
Full disclosure: I am non-religious. So I have no belief in God.
Here is a highlight of my background:
This tortuous life experience has enabled me to effectively write about the vast subject of “the West vs. the East” (Human History: the West vs. the East) from various perspectives. One of them is religion (Religions), with a theory of “Organization of People”.
2. Organization of People
The image below highlights my theory. It is a meshed network, with countries and religions interposed, reflecting the two major ways people are organized:
The first civilization by country is Egypt, which started about six thousand years ago. The Chinese civilization started about five thousand years ago. For more, read: Civilizations.
The oldest religion is Judaism, which started about three thousand years ago. However, many Gods (e.g. Sun God, Earth God, and Water God) existed way before that, in order to explain what was, at the time, unexplainable.
After the written languages were developed, some “scholarly” people started documenting and theorizing their own beliefs and God(s), resulting in several books, such as the Torah (Judaism), the Bible (Christianity), and the Qur'an (Islam).
2.3 Country vs. religion
Conceptually at the highest level, country and religion have the same goal: organization (or control) of people. Therefore, they often collide. As religion came later than country, it has been used to either subvert (more often) or justify (less often) the government of a country.
Here is the general dynamics between country and religion: as a religion grew, it tried to gain additional power over its subjects, thus interfering with the country (e.g. a monarchy or a democratically elected government). When people lose confidence in the government, they tend to be more religious. On the other hand, when a country is prosperous, religion tends to lose prominence.
A country typically has an army, but a religion usually does not. In the past, there were some exceptions, with religions commanding large armies. Two examples:
2.4 Country and religion
Different countries treat religions differently. Five examples:
Likewise, different religions treat countries differently. Two examples:
Finally, just like there are wars between countries, there are wars between religions.
3. How did "the God" come to America?
There were many Gods in the Americas before Christopher Columbus “discovered” the “new” world in 1492.
About four hundred years ago, the following two major groups came to America from England:
It was these two groups, chiefly, that brought Christianity and "the God" to America!
After America declared independence from England in 1776, our Founding Fathers did, among many things (America: What Did Our Founding Fathers Do, Actually?), at least two things correctly, with regard to religion:
4. Freedom of religion in America
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Freedom of religion in the United States:
In short, church and state do not mix!
5. The Bible vs. the Constitution
Over a public matter, when in conflict, an American must always choose the Constitution over the Bible!
This is actually a litmus test for U.S. citizenship. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Oath of Allegiance (United States):
End of discussion? Yes, but what about the word "God" at the end of the Oath? I believe, or at least hope, that today the word "God" refers to a general God, not that of a particular religion, even if the Founding Fathers were referring only to their God.
6. Public references to God in America
There are many public references to God in America, from the one Dollar bill (shown below) to many examples listed in this article: God in Our Nation's Capital.
Once again, my interpretation of the use of "God" refers to a general God, not that of a particular religion, including atheists who believe in no God.
On the other hand, if all the public references to God refer to a particular God of a particular religion (e.g. Christianity), they are an anachronism, perhaps acceptable at the time, but not so today, just like slavery and "We the People" in the Constitution. Specifically,
7. Why does God feel bigger today than yesterday?
Two main reasons:
Let me further elaborate on each ...
7.1 Most Americans have lost confidence in our government
Below are three pieces of hard evidence, in terms of the approval rating, that Americans have lost confidence in our government, all its three branches:
7.2 ISIS and America’s election year politics
ISIS has been fighting the West under the cover of Islam, fooling many in the West into hating Islam, which is exactly what ISIS wants: a religious war!
This happens to be a Presidential election year (the campaigns actually started in 2015), during which religion plays a bigger role than non-Presidential election years.
Throughout human history, civilization has been in a constant power struggle between two authorities: king (or queen) vs. religion. Religious power tends to get stronger with a weak king, while a strong king often diminishes religious power.
The power struggle remains little changed after a monarchy is replaced by a republic, with or without democracy (Republic: Democracy vs. Autocracy): a republic government vs. religion!
Unfortunately, most democratically elected governments have proven to be untrustworthy, with ridiculously low approval ratings! As a result, people turn more to religion for support, which is true today not only in America, but also in the Mideast! For more, read:
For some deeply religious Americans, the image below may be very helpful ...
Here are two recent news stories:
Are these just more examples of America vs. the World?
9. America: working towards a more perfect union
As a nation, we have come a long way to make our union more perfect. We must continue to do so, while resisting any attempt to curtail freedom of religion in America!
Today, with the help of the Internet (Internet and Hate), there is too much Islam bashing in America, which is not only totally wrong, but also utterly dangerous (America: Stop Islam Bashing!)! Do we really want to turn the world's Muslim population against America?
To understand a vast subject like Islam, we must read from both sides, the West and the East. Unfortunately, most Americans read from the West only, resulting in a one-sided, and incredibly distorted, view of the world, including the lack of a basic understanding of Islam, Christianity, and democracy! Three informative readings:
Bottom line: everything possible must be done to avoid a religious war in America!
Finally, for those Americans who think "the Muslims hate us", here is a simple question: why do they not hate the Chinese (as much)? The answer is also very simple: it has a lot to do with the key difference in foreign policies between America and China: intervention vs. non-intervention! Overall, China's non-interventionist policy will prove, if not already has proven to be, far superior to America's interventionist policy! For more, read: America's Post-WWII Foreign Policy.
Below is a video from the "other" side:
God has his place in America, but not in our government! Church and state must not mix!
Unfortunately for America, most Americans have lost confidence in our government. But that is no excuse to resort to religion against the Constitution! Reform the government to make it work better, instead!
Fortunately for America, I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis (Diagnosis for America (Version 3)) for America, as well as the best solution (Solution for America (Version 3)). But will America listen?
Now, please sit back and enjoy this video on “God and Europe”.
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