God Bless America?

Last month, the Frontiersman newspaper in Wasilla, Alaska (hmm, why does that sound familiar?) published a column by Rev. Ron Hamman of the Independent Baptist Church of Wasilla about spousal rape.  Rev. Hamman stirred up a bit of controversy when he said ““If these allegations of spousal rape are due to the wife withholding herself in attempt to control or punish her husband, she is out of line with God. And it doesn’t matter how many laws are passed, it will just be another reason why God will not bless America.”  According to Hamman, this article had its genesis in Lara Logan’s sexual assault during the celebration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.  This wasn’t the first piece Rev. Hamman wrote about Ms. Logan’s assault.  In a column published the week before, he places the responsibility for the attack on Ms. Logan not on the men who perpetrated it, but on Islam.  He even goes so far as to ask “when was the last time a group of Christians did such a thing?”  Um, how about Bosnia and Kosovo?  In the course of the Yugoslav wars, it has been estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 Muslim women were raped.  Even worse, many of these rapes didn’t occur in the “heat of the moment” (which is bad enough), they happened in “rape camps” set up by Bosnian Serb forces in an effort to breed out the muslim population.  And, yes, the Bosnian Serb armies and militias were predominately Christian.  The rest of the article is filled with the usual fundamentalist/Republican bullshit about how terrible Muslims are as opposed to us lily-white and pure Christians.  It looks to me like our hands are equally dirty.

In the spousal rape column,he mentions God blessing America multiple times and I can’t help but think his idea of blessing is based in the Old Testament and sees the blessed one as set apart and superior to everyone else.  Also, when someone says “God Bless America”, lingering in the background is an unspoken part that says “and damn everyone else”.  For me, neither of these ideas are compatible with the will of God.  In Genesis 12:3, God tells Abram (soon to be called Abraham) “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you“, so from the very beginning God did not intend to set one group, tribe, nation, etc over another.  If you want a New Testament example of this concept, try Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4 or His healing of the Roman official’s son in Matthew 8.  If that’s not enough, there’s Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles which was blessed by James and other leaders of the early church.  If  God and his blessings aren’t exclusive to the Jews, the original “chosen people”, why should they be so to Americans?

Finally, Rev. Hamman  goes on about ” how far out of line with God America is”.  I agree with him; but not for the reasons he might believe this to be true.  We’re out of line with God because we allow the rich to get richer at the poor’s expense.  We’re out of line with God because we’ve taken His place in the judgment seat and allow the government to determine who should live and who should die.  We’re out of line with God because we engage in war not to protect life or promote justice, but to amass property or assuage hurt feelings.  We’re out of line with God because we’ve placed things over people, whether those things are material possessions or religious doctrine.  All too many Americans are blessed not by God, but by the color of our skin or the status of our family.  When we are willing to give up those blessings, then and only then, do I believe God will bless America.