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!)
“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. “
Well, “reverend”, once upon a time when we were a little less technologically adept, a little less sophisticated, and a lot more un-polished, we atually believed that America was God’s gift to the world, that He really cared about us because we stood for somethng greater than ourselves, because we placed our trust in Him and His Holy Scripture. We believed God DID dispense special favors to those who reconized, worshipped, and in their own humble way, sought to plase Him.
And He did.
But today, thanks in no small part to sophists like yourself, other people who really believe in cultural equivalence, and who, maybe even deep down inside question His very existence, we are different nation and people.
Its a shame. I miss America and I certainly wouldn’t miss people like you.
he calls the song a prayer. don’t most ministers/ pastors/ priests, usually ask you to rise for a prayer?
as far as who the crap about asking for a blessing for our nation isn’t right as we aren’t blessing everyone, seriously. i’d bet every time he preaches he prays for a blessing on a much smaller subset of people. so should i be mad that he doesn’t include me in his blessing for his congregation?
Spoken like a true Obamunist. He must not have read the news about the IRS investigations into tea party patriot groups. He must not have seen the reports than anyone who opposes Obama is a "racist" and a "bitter clinger".
You have the right to sit out God Bless America but he didn't make a convincing point as to why one SHOULD sit it out. "plurality", "diversity", etc.
What's the beef? "It's a prayer"? This nation ain't so hot? "Who are we to ask for God's blessings"? It's somehow "divisive"? I ain't buyin' it.
I love it when a liberal tries in vain to explain in some contorted way that they simply resent patriotism.
Patriotism is to a die hard lib what silver is to the fairy tale vampire. They fear it.
To the them the world is one big family and for one member of that family to say they are better is some way or deserve Gods blessing in this case, is against their understanding of the world.
It's that simple yet they cannot admit this...or in this guys case, simply don't understand it.
But viewers from outside their little liberal world can see it, smell it, and view it with total disdain.
“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. “
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.”
Wow. This cleric has a problem with this?
It is a simple prayer, and excludes no one. It acknowledges that blessings come from God, and we humbly ask Him to bless our land.
Except for fruitcake Methodist ministers.
This Is my Song
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My countrys skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
James 1:27 — Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
“Methodism has some real numbskulls in its ministerial class.”
Not only them.
“Mainstream” (i.e., Big) religion continues to provide examples of why they have become irrelevant.
But, in the 7th inning stretch, I bet he stands for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
He resorts the the tired “dissent is patriotic.”
So is farting, nose picking, drooling, puking, and scratching our ass.
In his article, he wrote that he does.
Well, he shouldn't. Before the mid 1950's professional baseball actively discriminated against minorities. And Take Me Out to the Ballgame was written in that racist era.
So by standing for that song, the worthy Mr. Marsh is actively condoning baseball's racist past. He should be ashamed of himself.
I found a Methodist preacher who takes sides all the time. So far he has told us we can’t post pro life signs on the church lawn because we may offend parishoners, we shouldn’t ever mention God to non believers, we may offend them. And we shouldn’t do any type of mission work because too many people are donating to the mission work, and the preacher wants the church to have a new sound system and a projection screen on the altar. He also took a stand and told me I was not welcome after I told him and his wife that Jesus would have driven them out of the temple with a whip. We had a vibrant youth group and now we don’t have any youth, and its because we were too offensive and don’t have a movie screen he says. The average parishoner age is senior citizen, thanks to him. And I could go on with so much more...
I was a methodist until they became an evil church of satan. I AM NOW AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN A CHRISTIAN! I will NEVER be a methodist again.
If it wasn’t for America’s expense in blood and treasure in the last one hundred years there wouldn’t be a lot of ‘’other nations’’.
The mistakes in this attitude are
1) belief that there is a lack of a standard to make an objective evaluation of cultures
2) acceptance of cultural relativism
How man succeeds in relation to the physical world provides an objective standard by which to judge the value of cultures.Man's survival, well being,and happiness, and life proper to a rational being depend on man's being able to gain and keep values such as knowledge and wealth.America is a culture where one is able to gain these real goods better than other cultures, and so deserves to be blessed by God.
A Methodist minister doesn’t believe in God?
Or he thinks that we don’t have the right to express OUR belief in God?
He has a problem.
“I wish God would Bless America, we need it now more than ever.”
When America starts to BLESS GOD by seeking HIS face and changing our wicked ways, GOD will forgive us and heal our land. 2 Chronciles 7:14 is a promise, but we have to do our part.
Basically what same thing happened to me. We had not been going to church for while because of moving and my wife had some folks at the Methodist invite us. For 2 years it was good, the pastor was conservative, the people were engaged and great small town folks, and the church vibrant and Book following. The pastor was not an outgoing man but well spoken and educated and preached from the Book every Sunday. Knowing nothing about Methodists (I am a Southern Baptist) I started researching church structure and financial stuff. How the national convention spent money was disturbing. I would discuss these disappointing discoveries with my pastor and he agreed and kept referring to an upcoming battle in the church for power. It was about that time he left to go to an area where his bishops wanted him to revive a church in crisis (pastor had an affair in church family) and he felt it was his calling. The new pastor came and immediately we saw a difference. The hymns we sang, the message content became bland, even the youth group changed. I would bring up topics I had discussed with the previous pastor and was basically told that I was behind the times and the church needed to change. Same stuff, we needed fancy electronics to draw in young people and needed to not be so “in your face” with pushing Jesus. I argued and said, no we need the Word, and he said nobody really wanted to hear fire and brimstone anymore.
Needless to say over the next year the church went from having an average of 80-100 seats filled a Sunday to about 15-20. Youth group went to about 4-5 kids a meeting. After a few months of hearing this guys milk water sermons and discussing with some very dear elderly members who say the hand writing on the wall we left and went back to a baptist church 20 minutes further drive in the next town. Last I heard average age on a Sunday was 65+, mainly elderly that have been and loved that church that won’t leave it. Amazing how fast it can happen.
You forgot the “douche-bag” alert.
Or maybe “The Internationale”
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It sounds as though Jesus Christ would have been unwelcome in his charge.
I’m not sure I understand Mr. Marsh here.
His Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination before God. It further says that marriage is between a man and a woman (Jesus said that, actually).
Yet, saying a public prayer all together at a ball game - that’s over the line.
What isn’t over the line, of course, is unprotected anal sex between two men. Smoking in the same ball park, that won’t work, however. Smoking is bad for you. Smoking a pole that’s been in some dude’s hole, well that’s just another version of normal.
I’m going to pay more for insurance if I smoke. My friend Biff, however, he’s a non-smoker, but he pulls the train down at The Lavender Fist every Friday night. He’s a vegan, you see, and he pays a lower rate.
Mr. Marsh is about the same speed as a lot of ELCA pastors I’ve run into. I don’t know a lot of Methodists.
Bible study is fun in the ELCA, if you know which aisles of the store to avoid. In my church, a Lot is what you are supposed to give to the collection plate, not the name of a guy who was willing to offer his daughters up to be gang raped in order to protect the angels in his home from a bunch of buggerers.