Critique of American Exceptionalism published today by MinnPost

MINNPOST published “In the 2012 race for the White House, Is religion fair game?” this morning. Click THIS LINK to read the piece on

The first commenter on MinnPost didn’t like it. Here’s the comment:

September 5, 2012 – 8:21am.

but you’ve overlooked the obvious.

This nation was founded on the principle of religious liberty.  The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times and describes the uniqueness of America in that, unlike Europe, where power flows from God to the Throne to the People, in America “we are endowed by our Creator” … power flows from God to the people and then to government.

The issue of religion in this campaign hasn’t been about whether the Mormon practice of tithing is one this society should consider adopting (“If 10% is good enough for God it should be good enough for government.”  –  Romney gave $4 million to the church last year) or whether Obama’s connection to black liberation theology and its demand for “social justice” is compatible with a free society.  No, it’s been more basic than that.

When Paul Ryan reminded us in his acceptance speech that “our rights come from God,” leftwing websites and TV talking heads took issue with that.  Some even expressed outrage as if they’ve never read the Declaration.  They insisted that our rights come not from God but from Government!

And as if to formalize their party’s transition to secular humanism this week, we’ve learned that the democrats have removed any mention of God from their party platform.

So the discussion of religion IS fair game in this election, but not in the minutiae that you suggest, but whether the majority of the citizenry even understands that our founding was based on religious liberty and inalienable rights and is codified in the Constitution that exists to protect them, because frankly, Reverand, I’m beginning to doubt it.

Leave your own comment on the MINNPOST site or here on Views from the Edge. See previously published commentaries on the intersection of religioin and politics, and American exceptionalism on Views from the Edge for more on the subject

4 thoughts on “Critique of American Exceptionalism published today by MinnPost

  1. And that particular perennial commentator was well answered by others in later posts. Aside from the fact he didn’t really answer the question. He does have a point though, in that many in our country do not understand the role of religion in our government. Do not think he does either. As another poster put it, the work, god given rights are used by most governments in their statements, but the rights and the meanings vary greatly. It is more often than not, a figure of speech ….. I posted on my Facebook wall recently that when we get too big for our britches, the results are not pleasant, or something to that effect. .


    • Thanks, Karin. I, too, have noticed that some MinnPost readers comment on almost anything that gets in the way of their commitments to a right-wing agenda. I’m continually amazed that anyone has the time to comment on anything and everything at appears on MinnPost. They write nothing original. They react angrily with formulaic responses that dismiss writers as “Leftist” by which they mean Communist and unAmerican.

      “He does have a point thought…” I agree. There is wide confusion about the differnce between “church (i.e. institutional religion) and state (government)” and religion and public life. The founders wanted no part of the theocraccy that b anished Anne Hutchinson, burned Quaker Mary Dyer, and executed the witch-hunts of the Salem witch-trials in the name of the Christian God. That is why the Constitution refers to “Nature’s God.” While they etched in the Constitution what was later referred to as “the wall between church and state,” they also operated ont he assumption, as Jefferson said, that the American people are a “moral people” who care deeply about one another and have a moral compass that is based in the Divine (“Nature’s God”).


  2. That was very informative. I did not know that Romney said that, and I also did not know that the Democrats are taking religion out of their platform. It is an indisputable fact that religious freedom was one of the main reasons that many fled England and came here to settle. And the legislation of the beliefs of someone else’s religion is exactly the kind of thing our founding fathers were trying to avoid. I also like that you said the power of God flowing directly to us, and from us to government. Very good. Keep writing 🙂


    • Christina, Thanks for your interest. I was pleased that MinnPost chose to publish it. If you watched both party conventions, did you notice how frequently the belief in American exceptionalism was appealed to…by both parties? It IS the quintessential belief of the American civil religion. It’s one thing to love one’s country and to take pride in it. It’s another to make universal claims that, by inference, put every other nation in the world in a lesser category as unexceptioinal by some degree ore another. To argue that America should put its own interests first (ALL nations do that, and they should do that), is different from the idea of national exceptionalism. Shouts of “USA! USA! USA!” rouse the underlying religion of exceptionalism, evoking too many memories of American adventures overseas.


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