Patriotism and the 'God gap'
Surveys suggest a 'God gap' in views on American patriotism.
September 28th, 2011
07:19 PM ET

Patriotism and the 'God gap'

By Dave Schechter, CNN

(CNN)– “And may God bless the United States of America” is a popular closing line in speeches by presidents and presidential hopefuls.

Does a higher power, if one exists, “shed his grace on thee,” as the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” proclaim?

And if so, does this make the United States of America the greatest country in the world?

Christianity Today crunched data from a Pew Research Center poll that asked more than 1,500 Americans for their views of the United States.

“Nearly all Americans think they live in the best country on Earth. While a majority of Americans believe there are other countries just as great, nine in 10 say no nation is better. Within this high view of America, there are differences between different religious groups,” the magazine noted.

To this end, Christianity Today suggested the existence of a “patriotism God-gap in America.”

Among those surveyed, evangelicals were the most likely to think the United States is No. 1.

“Other Christian traditions were less enthusiastic about America's position in the world, but they still saw the U.S. as one of the best on the planet. About 40% of other Christians said the U.S. stands alone as the greatest country; around 55% said it and some other countries were equally great. As with evangelicals, only a few said there were greater countries in the world.”

“Those with no religion, however,” hold a much less favorable view, according to the magazine.

"Only one in five of those without religious beliefs said the U.S. is the best country in the world, an equal percentage agreeing that 'there are other countries that are better than the U.S.' ”

Not everyone is enamored with equating religious conviction and patriotism. Consider these excerpts from the comments that followed the Christianity Today article:

“To call yourself a Christian evangelical and still think that America is the greatest is ironic to say the least. God is not about country. God is about love and everyone is equal in his eyes, including the rest of the world.”

“What's really sad is the widespread perception among evangelicals that there is some kind of link between America's standing and the work and purpose and success of God's kingdom. There is not. Two words: wrong kingdom. I repeat: wrong kingdom. It matters not a whit what America's status in the world is. The kingdom of Jesus Christ does not depend on this in any way and will continue regardless.”

“When our astronauts look down at the Earth it doesn't look like a classroom globe with lines on it. All of those lines are drawn in the minds of human beings. I am grateful to be an American. But sometimes I think that some elements of conservative Christianity really see their religion as patriotism, their scripture the Constitution and God their servant to gain their personal aims. This whole Earth is the object of God's love and concern. And to claim that any one nation in today’s world is more favored than another may be promoting a Christian heresy.”

Flying the flag is among the easiest ways to display patriotism. Is it also an expression of religion?

In an article titled “Flag Desecration, Religion and Patriotism,” Temple University associate law professor Muriel Morisey suggested that for proponents of a constitutional amendment, “the American flag is the equivalent of a sacred religious icon, comparable to Christianity’s crucifix, Judaism’s Torah and the Quran of Islam. No court has designated patriotism as a religion for Establishment Clause purposes, but in every other significant respect it operates as a religion in American culture. Regardless of the religious beliefs we profess, we simultaneously practice patriotism.”

That said, a “God gap” may exist in the flying of Old Glory as well.

A Pew poll taken March 30-April 3 suggested that 78% of religious people display the flag on their clothing, in the office or at home, while 58% of nonreligious do likewise.

Evangelicals were the most likely to say they displayed the flag; those Americans unaffiliated with religion the least likely.

As to the religious identity of the nation, 62% said the United States is a “Christian nation” in a survey of 1,000 adults done a couple of years ago for Newsweek, while 75% of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey also done in 2009.

And earlier this year, writing for the CNN Belief Blog, Boston University religion scholar Stephen Prothero analyzed the religious affiliations of those elected to serve in the 112th Congress and concluded: “Is this a Christian nation? No way, says the Constitution. But U.S. voters are telling us something else altogether.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (2,100 Responses)
  1. JOhn

    I love how most Republicans are like less Government this or that yet they are the ones forcing G-d into everyone's lives.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • gman

      is the message of salvation in your textbooks?

      September 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • JOhn


      September 29, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Gman The original poster didn't mention salvation or textbooks. A little defensive are we? For the record, your attempts to cram intelligent design into textbooks is indeed an intrusion, but it's far from the only one.

      Republicans with their culture wars and love for criminalizing things and their enthusiasm form huge military budgets are not and have never been the party for small government or liberty or economic growth or ANYTHING they so arrogantly claim. They want to be "free" to persecute as they see fit.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  2. JOhn

    I can't take it when I see children and Adults sitting own during the Pledge and or National Anthem. I think EVERYONE should STAND. If you say it or not thats up to you but still show respect and stand.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • MumsToo

      I stand out of respect for those who have fought and died for the freedoms that we have. I refuse to say the pledge though. I do not believe in god in the traditional sense, and I feel that it's a bit presumptuous to claim that any god favors their country. I also refuse to say the pledge until the clause "with liberty and justice for all" is more than just wishful thinking.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • grist

      You complain about people sitting during the Pledge. Unfortunately, in 1954 the Pledge was changed from a unifying one, to one which cut off about 15% of the nation by adding the words "under God". I personally will not take a pledge specifying that we are a nation under a god. The words "under God" should be taken out. The brave soldiers who stormed Normandy beach took a pledge without the words "under God".

      September 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • JOhn


      Thats what i'm saying. I dont care who you believe in or what but people have died for you to think that so you should stand. and like I said if you say it or not it's up to you

      September 29, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • JOhn


      You have the right not to say the pledge but you should at least stand to show respect. If you watch the Olympics everyone stand for each other national Anthem. They dont stand because they know it or they believe thats the best country they do it out orf respect.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  3. realtalker1

    This country has abandoned God and the "christians" are ones who are leading us away from Him. They have replaced mercy with judgement and love with hate. The one presidential candidate who was so compelled by his faith to hold a prayer rally to pray for the nation at the same time takes pride in the fact that he has signed death warrants for more than 200 people many of which could very well have been innocent. The "christians" are the problem with this nation and they are leading us away from God. And I say this as a christian myself.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • gman

      so the problem you have with some Christians is that they allow capital punishment? just for comparison, do you realize that every six months, more babies are aborted than all the people that died in all of our wars until ww1? that is every six months. Perhaps if we had more of a christian society then there would be less call for overcrowding of prisons and overcrowding of our judicial system so that people could get the absolute fairest trial possible.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • John Richardson

      Thanks for coming out of the closet and openly identifying yourself as a theocrat.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • JOhn


      what about all the girls that have babies at age 16 or 18 that can't take care of them who depend on tax payers money to support them. what about putting g-d in schools and you have more girls having babies at a younger age. just look at palin.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Given that 70+% of abortions in the USA are had by believers, and a large percentage of those are likely to be christians, the original poster might have a point – that is, many cult members can't stick to their own cult's rules (and leave others alone).

      September 29, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  4. dsellers

    Sadly we are the united states of hypocrites

    September 29, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  5. SRO

    Those who have no religion in this country most likely are at that state because of a process of critical thinking and exploration of possibilities. At the same time, recognizing the USA's position on the global stage and not just repeating rhetoric of "We're #1!" reflects that same introspection and critical thinking. The connection seems logical.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Jason

      You better slow down with that rational way of thinking and logical conclusion. That is so un-American.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • gman

      the process of critical thinking that allows us to accept that 10^80 particles just appeared out of nothing – that they had just the right initial energy to coalesce and form atoms – a little more expansion and these atoms would have not formed stars – a little less and they would have collapsed back in on itself. What we call the fundamental four forces all finely tuned for life – yes, it takes critical thinking to throw that all out and say cr*p just happens – great critical thinking

      September 29, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • HellBent

      "Finely tuned for life"? Just like the parking lot is "finely tuned" for a particular puddle? It seems to me the height of arrogance to as.sume that the entire universe was created for us. Stopping injecting god into every question that you don't have an answer for. It didn't work with the ancients when they tried to explain the sun, moon, tides, and weather, and it doesn't work now.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • John Richardson

      @gman And who knows how many universes got started only to fall back on themselves or just blow apart as essentially free particles? The fact that we live, as we must, in one that did neither of these just means that we live in one that did neither of these.

      FWIW, I consider cosmology so inherently speculative that I don't accept any of the current as particularly likely to withstand decades and centuries of further scientific thought and investigation. But one possibility that can be written off immediately is that IF a creator ever seems scientifically necessary, that that creator will be identified as Jehovah. The bible is a pile of ancient myths and doesn't belong in any serious discussion of origins.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • gman

      HellBent, Have you studied the fine tuning? It is not arrogance but remarks from agnostic physicists like Fred Hoyle and the leader of the human genome project. in fact, there is a theory called inflation that attempts to reduce some of this fine tuning simply because agnostics find it rather unsavory to their tastes. The list of constants and forces that are finely tuned is quite impressive and you should research into them before you state otherwise

      September 29, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • gman

      John, so you are a proponent of the multiverse theory? that theory even cries out for God even more because that would mean that there is a thing called a universe generator and that the generator just happens to have created a universe for us to live in – only somethign that transcends the creation could have created the generator. Now mind you there is not one shred of evidence for the multiverse theory at all though

      September 29, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • HellBent

      "that theory even cries out for God even more because that would mean that there is a thing called a universe generator and that the generator just happens to have created a universe for us to live in"

      a. You don't truly understand the multiverse theory. With an nearly infinite number of universes, one would almost certainly have the properties that our universe does. There's no need to have it created "FOR" us to live in. We're the product of our environment, not the other way around.

      b. You're still using a deity to fill the gaps in your understanding of the universe. Thankfully, since the dawn of human reasoning, those gaps have been shrinking.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Gman I realize that intelligent discussion is not your strong point. But note that I wrote "who knows how many universes" and not "I know how many (hundreds, thousands, millions, quintillions,...????) of universes came to be". I am OPEN to the theory. I am not WEDDED to it. And no, the multiverse model doesn't require a creator. The explanation for why there is at least one universe with a tiny speck of life in it is that at least one universe out of an unknown number that came into being had the conditions to allow life and life did indeed develop.

      And what is it with you creationists and your inability to see that if, for instance, a multiverse needs a creator because everything that exists "must" have been created, then your creator needs a creator. To blithely assume the prior eternal existence of an intelligence capable of setting all the dials on the universe to allow life is a MUCH larger leap than saying the multiverse just is or even this single universe just is.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  6. wikiIeaks

    Jehovah's witnesses are christians. They are neutral in all political issues, which means they are neither for or against any government under which they live (they are all around the globe). They see God's kingdom as the greatest and therefore have a unity unlike any other religious group or nation. A national flag is an idol that represents who your allegiance belongs to. Jehovah's witnesses' allegiance is to only one, that is God. Having said that, part of God's command is to obey the laws of the land which they do always, unless those laws violate God's law. You guys should look into it on your own.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Luis Wu

      I fail to see what ancient mythology has to do with how great a country is. Especially a fringe cult version of that mythology.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  7. Bayouguy

    I've traveled extensively, including within the U.S. (43 states) and I've concluded that far too many people who refer to themselves as "Christians" or "religious", are simply "churchgoers". If one does not live by the Word in deed and thought, why are they considered "Christian" or "religious? I don't wear or fly a flag and would never engage in anything harmful or detrimental to this (or any) nation or it's "occupants. I love my country but wearing or displaying a flag is not the way I choose to show my love and respect. Whilst I am a "Christian", I, too, have fallen short on many occasions. Finally, most "Christians" I know, are against abortion, pro-gun and pro-death penalty and I wonder how one squares those beliefs with "Christianity". As Ghandi said, I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    September 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • tensai13

      Well said and I can respect that.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • blazinbrazen

      I can respect that too...

      September 29, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  8. Scott Fillmer

    i think you guys write these articles just so you can see how many people will respond in the comments, how about tying the beliefs of the Israelites to how they felt about their country and compare that to how Christians who live in the U.S. today feel about their country. That would have been a pretty interesting article instead of just re-quoting CT.

    The Israelites were pretty fond of their country too, they even fought for it (and in some ways still do). The rise and fall of the "great" countries are based on God's will, not human greatness. Israel was once a mighty and great nation and they strayed away from God and he made them into a remnant...

    September 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • twolfhound

      Wow, when you put it that way, I suddenly realize nothing is actually man's fault! It's all 'God's will'. This changes everything! A country isn't great because of who they are or what they do. It's because God wanted it that way. A country doesn't fall because of it's people, it's because it's God's will. How far does this extend? If a country isn't great because of people's actions, does that mean that their actions aren't actually their own, either? It's God's will! All in accordance to God. Thankfully, this means that I no longer have to take personal responsibility for my actions. It's all God's will! Thank you!

      September 29, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  9. WWRRD

    As much as it upsets the aethists, the communists, and the liberals, the US was founded on Judeo – Christian principles. Yes, many came for religious freedom. But that freedom was to express their christian beliefs in a way that differed from the Anglican, and or Catholic church.

    The US should always honor our commitment to religious freedom. It is part of our fabric. We should tolerate all faiths and yes , even, those who claim no faith. However, the liberals attempts to remove faith from all public discourse denies our heritage.

    This country was founded by Europeans, It was founded by Christians. These people grew this into the greatest country in the world. We have big blacks marks in our past in how we treated the native americans and blacks. Especially since the sixties we are working to overcome those terrible aspects of our history. We have a long way to go in overcoming our natural innate instincts to divide ourselves by race.

    However, our guilt and also our free society have endangered our country. Generations coming here learned English as a common language that binds our people together. Now we expect government to pander to various peoples by enabling them to use their own language when dealing with the government. It is a horrible mistake and it will cause us to be divided in the future It also will slow the assimilation of immigrants illegal and legal alike.Not learning English will prevent them from becoming a financially successful community. .We have no control of immigration. We have large numbers coming that don't share a common culture and language. Many of them have no desire to learn. It was on the news today that 17% of the population in the Washington DC area are not US citizens. That includes people here on student Visa's, work Visa's, illegal immigrants. The news story mentioned how those people's groups lobby politicians and the influence they have on American law. That is inexcuseable. A govermant of the people, for the people, and by the people menas American people. We should not tolerate foreigners meddling and pushing of agenda's in our political life. They have no business here.

    The God centered culture that started our culture and made it great is being destroyed by liberals and foreigners that simply think America is an also ran country. Well, you reap what you sow. The apologists and the atheists tell us America is not exceptional. The liberals buy into this argument hook , line and sinker. If we aren't exceptional, why do people risk death to come here? The culture that valued God , self determination, hard work, grew this country to be the greatest in history. If the atheists and the liberals don't like it, leave and take the apologists with you.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • HellBent

      Please do the rest of us a favor and pick up a history book. Your post is so factually inaccurate it's embarras.sing. I'd start with reading the treaty of tripoli and the religious beliefs of the likes of Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin. Get a clue and stop bearing false witness.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • BobFromPA

      You need to get your history straight. The vast majority of initial immigrants where escaping religious persecution in Europe and the vast majority did not belong or go to church, that is fact. This country was founded on the premise of "No taxation without representation" period. Read and comprehend.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Chris

      You dont know how wrong you are....they took over this country in the 50s. The pledge....the money....LEARN YOUR HISTORY. This country is supposed to be secular. Just because you want it to be doesn't mean its a christian country. It is now because your people are bigots that have created tons of laws to force people to conform. Blue laws, laws in states that say you cant hold an elected position if you dont believe in god. You really think your high and mighty dont you? and you wonder why atheists hate you.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Bill

      One of the key things that has made America great, is the way we burn petroleum. Nobody blows thru more irreplaceable natural resources than the USA. How do you think God feels about that?

      September 29, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Wrong. A lot of the founding fathers were Unitarians, free thinkers and there was even one Jew. Read your history books before you post ignorant comments that you pulled out of your posterior.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • AJ Chak

      Yes..very true. You have to be kidding me if you do not see that US is a christian country. Political leaders have to convert to Christianity to run for a higher office and if do not, then it is much harder for them to convince the public that they are 100% american and patriotic. It is very unfortunate that we call our land the greatest nation but forget that majority of people (about 55%-60%) measure a person's patriotism with their religious affiliations.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Guest

      Leviticus 19:33-34 - 33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
      God did not draw lines on the globe, boundaries are a man made rule on God's creation.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • John

      What ignorance. People came to this country for religious freedom, not all of whom were Christian. The government was founded on the principle of seperation of church and state to protect these religious freedoms. Worship and live however you want to, but when it comes to government, your rights end where anothers begin.

      You can say that this Country is largely Christian because it is a fact. You CAN not say this county IS a Christian Nation. It WAS NOT founded as a Christian nation, despite whatever the dominant religion of the founding fathers was. They wanted a specifically secular country to protect the minority religions from oppression by the majority.....which is exactly what brought them here.

      By you simultaneously saying that the US is a Christian nation, and also screaming for religious freedoms you are representing the English that the original Americans fled from.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  10. BobFromPA

    People can believe what they want. None of us know the whole truth, that is what we endeavor to find. But this latest crop of politicians who tout their beliefs on the campaign trail and their cadre of followers reminds me of another time and place. Don't forget that the Nazis used the same divide and conquer methods and fear mongering and also stated god was on their side and look what happened and don't think it can't happen here.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • AJ Chak

      I totally agree... Some of the comments made by tea party activists and the propaganda against our president during the last elections are as worse as nazi propaganda in mid 1900's....I do not know what to call such a bias against our president....Is it the ethnic/cultural/religious bias since he is not your typical white president....

      September 29, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • MumsToo

      To go along with AJ's comment. I fail to see how anyone who has clearly stated that it's their goal to bring down the president (and at the expense of the American people) can claim to be patriotic.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Adam

      RIght, I've seen video clips during the 2000 election asking people who they are voting for and why. One woman specifically stated she was voting for George W. ONLY because he seemed like a very religious person. I can guarantee there were plenty of others like her. We all know how that turned out. Religion is the most damaging but also the most influential deciding point in gaining votes. I believe this tactic should be deemed illiegal. God is not gonna balance the budget, he's not gonna provide disaster relief, he's not gonna give orders to our brave servicemen and women. So what does religion have to do with choosing an elected official, especially a president?

      September 29, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  11. uptooearly

    The quote is simple prayer, not a statement. All Americans should feel they live in the greatest country on earth. As all Italians should feel that way about living in Italy.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • lef

      Why should all americans feel america is #1? Should all Somali's feel the same about their country? Of course not. It's OK to think that other countries are better than yours.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  12. jzazdrmz

    tensai13, Can you point me to an article or chapter in one of Dawkins books where I could read that hypothesis, thanks.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • tensai13

      The God Delusion. 2006 pp. 172 – 179. Richard Dawkins.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  13. Debbie

    i would like to say we took God out of our schools and our kids went nuts by walking in and just shooting other children andd teachers we took God out of our goverment and it fell apart ,we took God out of our country and we were attached on our on land so what dose that tell you ? in my heart we need God back at the wheel and send all you none christian to your owen island were you can do your owne thing i love God and so dose my town 🙂

    September 29, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Which god? Allah? Buddah? Jehova? Krishna? There are so many mythical, invisible supernatural guys in the sky that I loose track. If you want to worship an invisible, supernatural mythical being, go for it. But don't try to force you fantasies on other people.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • JOhn

      Debbie, if you want G-d in your child's life how about sending them to private school or you home school them, Why should my Child have to learn about g-d in PUBLIC school. If my child went to private school then thats a different story.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Rick

      First of all, it tells me that you want (your) god to be the official god and taught through the school systems. Then it tells me that you very logically challenged, and lastly it tells me that you spell horrendously. Also, you appear to view god as a petulant bully. Have a nice day

      September 29, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • Luis Wu

      What's with leaving the "o" out of "God" and spelling it "G-d"???? Some kind of superst!tion? Just another sign that religious people can't think straight.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • ama01

      Debbie, all it tells me is that you can't spell. You complain that God has been removed from everywhere. God should be in your heart, and you can then ensure that you're never without him. However, this country was founded on the principle that none of our citizens will be subjected to a religion mandated by the government. This means that we don't pray in school, or allow judges to sentence offenders to go to church instead of to jail. Practice your own religion, keep God close to you if you wish, but do not blame the problems of society on the fact that our nation was first to allow each of its people to believe in their own God, not one decided upon by those with power.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • JOhn

      Luis Wu,

      I write G-d without the O because in my religion we show respect and we are not supposed to write his name down on anything that can be deleted or thrown away. We are actually giving him respect by not actually writing his full name down,

      September 29, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • JOhn


      You put G-d in schools and you have girls like Palin who have Babies at age 18

      September 29, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Luis Wu

      @John, like I said, just another ignorant superst!tion. All religions, including Christianity, are just ancient mythology. Period. End of story. I can't tell you how utterly silly and pathetic it is to me when I hear people spouting that fairytale nonsense.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • Free

      America use to be a predominantly 'Christian' country back when pretty much everyone was descended from ancestors of European origin, but times changed, and people have emigrated from all over the world to become Americans. So, our demographic changed and it no longer was regarded as fair to have non-Christian citizens' children be compelled to offer Christian prayers in our public schools.

      Why, because we have freedom of religion here. Do you want to take that freedom away from some of our citizens just because they are in the minority? What happens then when they become the majority? Do they then have the same right to force their religion onto you grandchildren? Think about it! Christians had a good run in this land, but the times have changed. Get over it.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • betsaroo

      How about when you put God IN social issues and it ends in the death's of Planne Parenthood doctors, murdered by those who "choose life?" (Do I have to point out the irony here) Or it ends in religious fanatics revoking public school bullying laws because these laws protect gays teens (who later take their own lives because the Bible tells them so). GIVE ME A BREAK, you and your religion have no right to make such claims. The goverment is falling apart because politicains are corrupt and greedy, yes even those holidn prayer rallies, wake up!

      September 29, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • JOhn

      Luis Wu,

      Thats what I love about this country. you what you think and I think what I think and we move on.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • guest

      there you go....one more christian fanatic....its sad to see that there are people like you in this country....

      September 29, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  14. TheWiz71

    I am a Christian, but a small "c" catholic (as opposed to a Roman Catholic), not an evangelical. I do believe that the United States is one if (not the, but one) of the greatest nations on earth. I thank God that the United States exists. It provided refuge for my ancestors from religious oppression throughout the centuries.I certainly sleep better at night knowing that it is the dominant economic and military power in the world (as opposed to China or Russia holding that position), and I do regard it as the greatest force for democracy and human liberty the world has ever seen. But, is it particularly and especially favored by God? No, no more so than any other nation on earth. I pray for God to guide its leaders in the way of justice and truth, as Paul taught us we should. But, "God so loved the world", not a particular people. In the Kingdom of God that Jesus has come to establish, nationality doesn't matter. In Christ there is no east or west, in Him no south or north.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:55 am |
  15. Patrick Wilkinson

    Interesting. As a high school teacher and a Desert Storm Veteran to boot, I listen to my students recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, and I often find "one nation under god" rather pretentious. When it comes up, I say "all nations" to myself. I'm agnostic in belief, so I do think god is possible, but I doubt he, or she, would play favorites.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • TheWiz71

      The "under God" bit was inserted in the 1950s as a means of differentiating American national life even further from that of the atheist Soviet Union. Until then, it was just "one nation". Nothing wrong with either way, in my opinion.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • JOhn

      I think no matter what EVERYONE should STAND for the pledge of allegiance. If you say it or not is up to you but you should still show respect and stand.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  16. peick

    I find it funny (not really) that all the anti-religion people are probably the same folks who call Christians bigots and haters. But when you read their comments on a blog like this, it should become clear that Christians are on the receiving end of the hate and bigotry. And someone will leave a reply to my post expressing the same sort of vitriol. Why is that? Why be so angry and so upset at a group that you have to hate them? Does it perhaps point to something in yourselves that needs to lash out. Guilt, maybe? A realization that God is really there and that you are afraid deep inside your conscience?

    September 29, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Ted

      You have people like Fred Phelps to thank for that, send some compassion and love in the name of the lord in his direction.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @peick – Hear, hear"! Could not agree more. You don't believe something, fine, but the anti-theist (and specifically anti-Christian) vitriol you ALWAYS see on these boards is just astounding, and yet, as you say, we are the ones who are always being accused of being reactionary bigots.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Paul

      indeed. the world would be a much friendlier place if people would stop claiming superiority through antagonistic sweeping generalizations...kinda like the ones you just made.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • Luis Wu

      I do think Christians, at least evangelicals, could be labeled haters more so than non religious people. They spout a lot of vitriol themselves, toward gays, atheists, abortion doctors, liberals, etc. etc. etc. I don't hate anybody. I do hate concepts that promote ancient mythology as fact and I oppose people that try to use ancient mythology to coerce people.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • MumsToo

      It would help if church groups stopped leaving hate flyers and brochures filled with lies about my family on my door step.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  17. BabbleOn

    Scepticism and cynicism go hand in hand. That's not a complaint or condemnation; it's just the way it is. There's nothing baffling about this. The purpose of this article is to give trolls some low fruit to pick. It provides no light, but it does pay the bills, right Dave?

    September 29, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  18. Randoms

    Get rid of the reference to religion in politics, it offends me. How? I don't want authourity figures making 'belief" decisions on issues that affect me. Base all decisions on fact, not on some fable.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Chris

      Well, it it offends YOU, like all liberals think, we all have to change for YOU. If you dont like it, dont listen. Dont make the world change just for liberal old YOU.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Ted

      Chris, Jesus was a liberal, peace..

      September 29, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • TheWiz71

      @Chris – I'm a Christian, and I'm a liberal. In fact, I don't know how you can be a Christian and not be a liberal about most things (while, yes, perhaps being conservative about others – after all, Jesus defies all political labels). So, watch the vitriol, and stop the self-satisfied arrogance. It doesn't look any better on you than it does on the militant atheist.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Free

      What if we had politicians who regularly used their horoscopes, psychics, or good luck charms to guide their decision-making, and openly said so? How would you feel about that?

      September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • uptooearly

      One huge thing about being American, is that this is a democracy. YOU are the one making the decisions...do you exercise your right to vote?

      September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • VoipOfReason

      Chris – Do you think that's what Jesus would have said?

      Ted – Good Call.

      Randoms – I completely agree, that decisions should be made on facts, not beliefs.

      And words for the wise: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." – Gandhi.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:07 am |
    • Scott

      Playing Devil's Advocate here: Enforcing religion either way on an individual (forced meaning religious or secular) violates the freedom of religion in the First Amendment.

      While I agree that it should not come up as wording in actual law, the majority of people in the US are religious, regardless of political views, and we tend to elect religious representatives. Both sides (religious and secular) come off as extremists in my view.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  19. ljheidel

    How do you say, "I don't understand what happened. *God* was on our side!" in Mandarin?

    September 29, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • No One Is Safe


      October 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  20. tensai13

    Professor Dawkins makes an interesting hypothesis that ties religious belief to an evolutionary need for childhood gullibility.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Your professor knows nothing.

      John 15

      15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

      15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

      15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

      15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot * bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

      15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing *.

      15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

      15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

      15:8 Herein * is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

      15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

      15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

      15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

      15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

      15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

      15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

      15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

      15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever * ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

      15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

      15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

      15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

      15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

      15:21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

      15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.

      15:23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

      15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

      15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law *, They hated me without a cause.

      15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

      15:27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.


      September 29, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Father Mulcahy

      Ah, John 15, from a book (novel, if you will) written by humans centuries ago. You use it to prove a point, but it remains a human-written book. It is not fact and cannot be proven as such. As tensai said, Dawkins "hypothesizes." He's not making a claim that it is 100% guaranteed truth: a hypothesis. At least those who have doubts about religion and believe in what science can't prove aren't kidding themselves: they're looking at the facts in front of them and drawing logical conclusions.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Mike

      @Heaven Sent

      I think you just proved the point there with the string of unrelated bible quotes...

      September 29, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • Chris

      thats the problem, young minds being corrupted by marxist professors, who outside of their own field cannot tie their shoes

      September 29, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Luis Wu

      @HeavenSent – YOU are the one who knows nothing. Quoting your blah blah blah mumbo jumbo from an archaic old book of mythology just shows how ignorant you are. Wally in your fantasy world with your invisible friends in the sky but don't try to push your ignorant nonsense on everyone else.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • ljheidel

      With your "marxist" quote, you just prove my earlier point. The dogmatic American Christian lives in fear of the other: Marxist, Atheist, Communist, Nazi, etc. You see it in how often you label people things (like Socialist) when you have no clue what that really means. You heard a word, it sounds like, "different than me and therefore bad" and throw it about like it as some gravitas to your accusations. In reality, you're just showing yourself to be ignorant to those who understand what those big words mean.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • HellBent

      There's actually current research which suggest that religion filled an early social evolutionary need for a system of laws and government. Studies have shown that people behave better when they think that someone is watching them, regardless of whether or not anyone is. Communities need a basic system of laws in order to thrive. Religion provided this for early cultures, but our modern system of laws and justice makes the religious portion obsolete.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • jkn

      oooh, Cut and pasting. Wow, you sure convinced me!

      September 29, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Brent Slensker

      I cannot BELIEVE in this day and age that someone still THINKS that pasting scripture drivel is an intelligent way to debate/express opinion. It proves ONE thing, that the one spouting is devout....Those days are OVER when you think you can simply gain favor for exhibiting "faith" or for that matter be taken seriously

      September 29, 2011 at 8:44 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.