Is God Absent?

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Yesterday I heard a program on NPR where people from Texas were being interviewed about that state seceding from the Union. Following the re-election of President Barack Obama, a petition began circulating requesting that the Lone Star state be allowed to secede. It has over 100,000 signatures thus far, with more coming, it is said. Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not support secession, but not even his voice can stop the groundswell of support for secession.

 

One of the leaders of the movement explained that the movement began because Texans are troubled by the nation’s policies. Said that leader:told  Politico that “Obama’s reelection was a “catalyzing moment” for his group’s efforts to leave the United States. He insists, “This is not a reaction to a person but to policy” and what they see as a federal government that is disconnected from its constituents.”  (http://caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/14/should-texas-be-allowed-to-secede-from-the-union/?iref=allsearch)

 

While I don’t believe for one moment that what’s going on in Texas is not about a person, namely President Obama, I am very concerned and confused as I listen to people, from Texas and from elsewhere, who say that we now live in a “Godless” country – a statement one of the callers made on the NPR program.

 

A pro-secession guest agreed with her, saying that America is no longer the America they have known, which means that God used to be here, but is now absent? Is that what people think?

 

When did God leave America? Does God do that?

 

OK, I know that in the Hebrew scriptures, God, disappointed with the fact that the Israelites did not keep the covenant they had made with God, they disobeyed God continually, they worshiped idols, they continually did “what was wicked in God’s eyes,” as is stated over and over in the Bible – but haven’t we in America always done that? Haven’t we always been a stubborn people, refusing to listen to God? If that is so, why would God wait until now to …turn on us and leave us?

 

Is discrimination pleasing to God?  I mean, discrimination against black people, Native Americans, women, the elderly, gays and lesbians… Was God with the signers of the Declaration of Independence and did God ordain the signers’ misrepresentation of their intentions when they wrote “all men are created equal” when they knew in their hearts they didn’t mean “all” men, but just a privileged few?

 

Do people think God is absent because the demographics of this country are changing, making us a truly pluralistic nation? What? God doesn’t want a pluralistic nation? Is God absent now because more and more non-white people are going to the polls and making their voices heard, which is different from the voice of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants?

 

I know people are upset about same-sex marriages, but has God left America because of that becoming a new normal? Has God left us because our government has tried to help people survive who were devastated by the recent recession? Was the government supposed to do nothing and let the people just wing it? Did God not approve of the intervention made to help people who used to be self-sustaining but were swallowed by our horrible economy?

 

When does God leave God’s people?

 

If we were to list the grievances God has against us, what would be the first three on God’s list?

 

I am really trying to understand why people think America is a godless nation now, as opposed to before when so many other things were going on which were a violation even of the Greatest Commandment, which says that we should “love the Lord our God with all our minds and with all our hearts and all our souls…and our neighbors as ourselves. If God demands that, and we as a nation clearly have not done that, then why would God leave now?

 

What would a nation in which God still resides look like?  What should America look like today? Are racism, sexism, militarism all right with God?  Didn’t Jesus tell us to reach out to “the least of these?” So if the government is doing that, is the government offending God?

 

I am confused. What is America’s theology? What is it as opposed to what people think it should be? Because if God is absent from America, we are in big trouble, and we need to get right with God, quick and in a hurry.

 

A candid observation …

 

The Arrogance of Racism

United States Supreme Court building.
United States Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I think about racism, I think what bothers me most is the arrogance of it all, an arrogance spawned and nurtured by governments, both in this country and elsewhere, allowing or perhaps encouraging people to buy into one of the most specious types of human behavior imaginable.

What prompts this post is the story about how some people at the Republican National Convention allegedly threw peanuts at a CNN camerawoman, saying, “this is how we feed the animals.”

Then, I looked at the makeup of the crowd at the RNC, and saw very few non-white faces…but what bothers me, again, is that the Republican Party has not really done anything to draw different ethnic groups. Their arrogance allows them to pander to their base unashamedly, only thinking of other ethnicities as objects to be captured to win elections.

The voter suppression efforts are, again, so arrogant. Americans have the right to vote; because voting is a right, politicians and governments should do all they can to make sure the most people possible can exercise their right…and yet, the laws put in place feel like they were put there to shut certain groups out, in order to make sure the Republican and Tea Party candidates win.

It is so arrogant.

At least the Justice Department shot down the voter ID laws in Texas. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/politics/texas-voter-id-law/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1) The state attorney general said he will appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court, but again, how arrogant is it to think that it is OK to deliberately bar people from the polls?

The government and society-supported racism has historically been supported, in specific rulings, by the United States Supreme Court. The most noted case is the Dred Scott case, where the Chief Justice, writing for the majority, said there were “no rights of a black man that a white man is bound to respect.” Reading that still takes my breath away.

In Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson refused to block a voter ID law (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0815/Why-judge-refused-to-block-Pennsylvania-voter-ID-law) Judge Simpson doesn’t see where the law will impede the ability of poor and minority people to vote. In the spirit of arrogance that this post is about, Pennsylvania GOP House Leader Mike Turzai said publicly that the new voter ID laws will help Romney win the state in the general election. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/mike-turzai-voter-id_n_1625646.html)

This racial arrogance has caused so much pain for others. It has fooled white people into thinking that no matter who they are, they are always better than black or brown people, and it knows that governments, churches and institutions will, or have, for the most part, supported them.

The arrogance makes those who allow racism and racist feelings to abide in them think they are more intelligent, more capable, and absolutely within their rights to spurn anyone who is not …white.

I don’t know how the budget will shake down if Mitt Romney wins the election. It is clear that Paul Ryan’s proposed budget doesn’t seem to care too much for black, brown and poor people.  The arrogance of people makes them forget that there are still serious barriers in our society that prevent people from getting work; studies show that black and brown people are still discriminated against in hiring. And Romney, who has never had to worry about where the next meal will come from, or watch his parents worry about that, said in an ad that if kids want to go to college, they should “ask their parents” to help them, give them a loan.

Arrogance. He doesn’t know how many parents are struggling just to keep their heads above water, and that includes everyone, black, brown…and white.

In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, I thought back to Hurricane Katrina, where the arrogance of racism, which spawns fear and uncaring, accounted for the government to send National Guard soldiers into the city of New Orleans, when people, mostly black and poor, were drowning in their homes, or sitting on roofs, desperate to be rescued. I still think of the pictures of old people, sitting out in the hot sun for hours, waiting for someone …to care. Too many died waiting.

The killing thing is that many whites who are racist will not admit it; they will get immediately defensive if  such is suggested to them. During the Republican primary, one of my Twitter friends was furious when I said that Newt Gingrich was playing to his base. I was referring to some of his comments on those who are poor and who are on welfare.

My friend…unfriended me.

Gee.

I am holding my breath as this election gets into final gear. I am sure that those who plan the campaign know how to speak to the racist underpinnings of this country’s citizens without saying things that will get them in trouble. But they will say them…and those who are supposed to understand, will. And though I am talking about Republicans today, be clear that there is no way I am saying that some Democrats are not just as racist, and I am not saying that ALL Republicans are racist. But racist or not, the arrogance that supports racism abounds in this world.

It’s sad, this arrogance, and it keeps America from being the greatest she can be.

A candid observation …