It’s no wonder the vast cosmos appears to be dark, formless and largely void, and that an all-powerful guiding hand seems absent from world affairs. That’s because God, for centuries now, has been pre-occupied with the United States. He’s got his hands full there, called upon to serve as the nation’s special guardian, asked constantly to perform all manner of services and held accountable by its people for whatever occurs, good or bad. Americans may denounce Big Government activism, but they certainly expect Almighty God to do all that he can for them.
Americans tied their fortunes to God from the very beginning and have been contractually obligated ever since. It was God’s Country from the start. God, they insisted, had set aside our pristine continent, keeping it unknown until He was ready to populate it with hardy bands of God-fearing followers. These people, created in God’s image, therefore, had strong claims to freedom and equality. That’s what made possible victory in the struggle for our independence from England when “Nature’s God” according to the Declaration of independence declared us worthy to stand on our own as a free people.
The new United States of America maintained its close ties with God who seemed genuinely pleased with his people when they prospered, grew greatly in numbers and spread rapidly over the land. But understanding God’s intention eventually brought discord and disharmony when controversy over slavery engulfed the nation. Slaveholders in the South insisted that the Bible, the word of God, sanctioned slavery and that they were performing His work by bringing heathen Africans to an understanding of the Lord. Southerners, moreover, considered themselves to be a people far more Godly than their Northern brethren who, clustered in cities, had become ever more sinful and materialistic. Northerners countered by declaring slavery to be an abomination, a terrible sin which God wanted erased from the land. And so the war came – both sides staking their claims to God’s favor. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”, sang Northern soldiers as they marched through the South and to ultimate victory. God had taken a stand.
And a re-united U.S. has ever since remained “one nation under God”. Today, congregants in nearly 300,000 houses of worship across the United States sing his praises while tens of millions of Americans “Thank God”, and accept Him unquestionably as the creator of the world. When they sing “God Bless America”, it is with the conviction that He remains an infallible guide and guardian. And when misfortune strikes the country, it is God, they say, displeased at our behavior who has brought retribution upon us.
So broadly is God woven into our cultural fabric that it’s practically taken for granted. A mere sneeze will bring “God Bless you”, with a “God willing” accompanying your hope for a positive outcome to a “God damn it” when it turns out otherwise. We promise in court to tell the truth “so help me God”, though it may be that only “God Knows” what that is. We bargain with God in a crisis, and are willing to assume some onerous task in exchange for his benign intervention. Athletes repeatedly call upon Him at critical times and openly thank him (by gesturing to heaven) when He delivers for them. “God be with you” represents our earnest hope for others and ourselves as we painstakingly make our way through life “with God’s help.”