Happy Fourth of July, But I Cannot Say “God Bless America”
by Christina Forrester
July 4th, 2018
For the first time in my life, I cannot with good conscience say “God bless America” on the Fourth of July. I will watch the fireworks, I will put my hand over my heart, I will probably tear up for my country – but this year, the tears will have a different meaning than in the past. This year, I will say a prayer for my country on her birthday that will be more like a plea, and a cry. And I have to say I am sorry to Lee Greenwood, but I will not be singing along with your song either.
There have been years past when it felt very appropriate to ask God to bless America, or add some kind of caveat to the phrase – but this year, from even a Biblical standpoint, as a follower of Christ, I feel it is downright wrong to say it! If I were to say “God bless America,” I would in essence be saying:
“God, please bless a nation whose highest leaders have abandoned all your principles and values.”
“God, please bless a nation that is intentionally harming those who You deemed the ‘least of these.’ Whose representatives who are distorting and twisting Your Words to justify unjust policies against the poor, the sick, marginalized groups, minorities and refugees.”
“God, please bless the separating of families, the jailing of toddlers, the unjust treatment of those who are coming to this place for help, fleeing for their lives. Bless us as we further torture them once they get here.”
“God please bless the hatred and fear of White Supremacist right-wing propaganda that has taken hold in our nation, from the highest elected office to a state-run media network, all the way down to millions of Americans who believe a constant stream of lies and have allowed this fear and hate towards the ‘other’ to infect their hearts. God bless our hate!”
“God please bless a country that does not keep our promises and agreements with our friends and allies, but bestows gifts upon dictatorships and regimes who treat their people and neighbors with unadulterated cruelty.”
“God bless our violence – putting corporate greed and lobbying organizations like the NRA in a place of greater importance than our children’s lives.”
“God bless a country whose criminal justice system is now geared towards punishment, and profits, not rehabilitation and social justice, where citizens of color live in fear of the injustice of this system and police brutality. Bless our injustice!”
“God bless us when an entire sect of Your church is more outraged over a couple in love getting married than babies being ripped from their mother’s arms and lost in “the system.”
So instead of saying “God bless America” this year I will, more appropriately, say, “God HELP America!” Help us be a nation that…
Considers the least of these as you asked us to….
Welcomes the stranger with understanding and empathy, as Your Word commands…
Lives up to our values, creed, Constitution and ideals…
Clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, cares for all the sick, provides opportunity for the poor and a fair wage for our workers…
Treats all men and women equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed or orientation…
Values justice and the spirit of the law, rather than punishment and the letter of the law…
Values the things You value.
So as I wish you all and my country a happy Independence Day 2018, I also ask God to help America. Help us once again be that city on a shining hill, a beacon of hope, democracy and peace. Help us embrace those words written on our own Statue of Liberty…
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Then, and only then, can I once again, with confidence, say “God bless the U.S.A.”
Christina Forrester is the Founder and Director of Christian Democrats of America and creator and host of the What Would Jesus Pod podcast. Follow her at @Christinaof9.
A scripture for America on her birthday:
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings