A Methodist minister protests “God Bless America”

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I tend to dismiss “God Bless America” at the ballpark because it’s an Irving Berlin show tune — seriously, look it up — that admittedly meant something to people for a while in 2001, but which now has become an exercise in empty, mindless patriotism. We have no shortage of that, we have a severe shortage of god old fashioned baseball fun at the ballpark, and we really don’t need it.

But a Methodist minister writing in the Washington Post has a different reason for protesting “God Bless America.” A theological basis:

I love this country and don’t want to live anywhere else. But being pressured to stand up at a baseball game for a song that’s essentially a prayer seems, well, un-American. It feels like being pushed into the river for a baptism I didn’t choose. It’s an empty ritual, and one that I think doesn’t hold much theological water … I imagine that the God I believe in isn’t interested in dispensing special nationalistic blessings.

“Take me out the ballgame” may be some old vaudevillian-era song too, but at least it’s an inclusive one.