According to a Gallup poll from 2015, approximately 75 percent of Americans identify with a Christian religion. Christianity is viewed to many as a religion seeking peace, to turn the other cheek, and to help others. At the same time, the US is bombing 7 nations, maintains 800 military bases around the world (not including military bases on US soil), conducting military operations in at least 80 countries, 20 veterans commit suicide everyday, 1 of 4 women in military uniform experience sexual assault, and white supremacists are scattered throughout US Armed Forces. This is a huge contradiction in what the majority of Americans supposedly believe and how the United States of America behaves in the world today.
The featured image of this article was taken by a Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans For Peace, Mike Hastie. He uses photography and art as a means to deal with his PTSD and Moral Injury. Mike has a good eye on spotting contradictions in American society, like the bumper sticker and license plate in this image. The bumper sticker says, “One Nation Under God” with American flag colors in the shape of a Christian cross. The license plate holder says “U.S. Air Force”. Mike edited a caption onto the photograph which says, “Thou Shalt Not Murder”, a famous phrase from the ten commandments of the Christian bible.
Here we have a typical example of the contradiction of both the US Armed Forces and Christianity. According to Christianity, following the Ten Commandments are to be held to the highest standards and abided by to the highest degree. The U.S. Air Force, on the other hand, does kill and they kill quite indiscriminately. Just look at the civilian casualties of any of the US wars today.
It could be possible that American Exceptionalism is American Christianity, and cognitive dissonance is America.-Will Griffin
How can any Christian support the US military or government? Shouldn’t there be at least some cognitive dissonance when confronted with this information? What do Christians do in church on every Sunday? How can they support any political leader who supports these wars?
Maybe American Christianity is of a different brand. Possibly American Christianity is supporting violence rather than turning the other cheek. US history has always been in contradiction with the values of Christianity. You can ask the indigenous people of North America or the Africans who were forced into the worst slavery system the world has ever seen, Chattel Slavery. You could also ask Asian Americans or Latin Americans about American Christianity. Remember the words, “Manifest Destiny”?
Today, there is a new word for Manifest Destiny… it’s called American Exceptionalism. It could be possible that American Exceptionalism is American Christianity, and cognitive dissonance is America. If I were an alien who just happened to visit Earth, I would certainly think that they are the same value system. A group of people who identify with a religion, a nationality, and agree how they behave towards others on this planet: violence, domination, and exploitation.
Many political leaders use religion to justify their actions and convince American citizens they are on the ‘right’ side. Remember when President George W. Bush told the world that God spoke to him? Actually, if you look up every presidential election in the 21st century (the century of civilization) there are always candidates who say God told them to run for president. Did God tell them to exploit the American people, steal their tax dollars and pay off corporations? Did God tell them to drop bombs on innocent people? What did God really say to them, if God said anything at all?
Do you know who else used religion and literally printed on their belt buckles the phrase “Gott Mit Uns“? The Nazi military. It translates as “God with us.” There is a serious problem when governments and militaries use religion to justify the murder of innocent civilians. Do believers, of any faith, actually learn about their own religion? If so, do they learn it from religious literature or politicians?
Many Christian churches in the US fly the American flag high and mighty. I often wonder how nationalism relates to the divine? I’d argue it doesn’t, even though I am today a non-believer. I tend to believe in the material world here on Earth with my confidence in the power of the working class rather than something else in the metaphysical world, but I still can argue that nationalism has no place in religions. Is there something written in the Bible about the United States of America? I don’t think so.
A pastor from Bath, Maine, Bill Bliss, once told me, “Jesus was here long before the American Flag and he’ll be here long after.”