Putting Words in God's Mouth

By this time, I am fairly well inured to the theatrics of the Fundamentalist Dominionist Christian Right in this country.  As a result of writing for this blog for...gods, what, two years now?  Three?...I read a lot about what the Religious Reich and their puppets the Republican Party are up to.*  I've actually reached a point where as I'm reading through Right Wing Watch, quite often I see the headline, laugh bitterly and say "of course they did" and scroll to the next item without even bothering to read it, because very little they do shocks me these days, and I can't (and don't want to) write about every single case of right-wing bullshit I see.

But even I am thoroughly taken aback by the brazen combination of ego, disrespect for the divine, colonialism, and nationalism in this video.  In it, Lou Engle of the Eagle Forum prays over a group of young people at Awakening 2012.  I honestly can't make out most of what he says right until the very end, when he says the last few lines of the Lord's Prayer, with one very interesting difference:
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in America.
*record screech*  Wait.  What?

See, I'm familiar with the traditional form of the Lord's Prayer.  You know, the one that ends with "On Earth as it is in Heaven", not "in America".

I wonder if he meant to say it that way?  I can't imagine that someone with as much experience in public speaking and public prayer as Lou Engle would slip like that without meaning it, at least on some level.

Which says all kinds of ugly things about his intent here.  On a purely theological level, it strikes me as deeply disrespectful at best, to alter a crucial word in such a fundamental prayer of one's faith, especially in such a dogmatic religion as right-wing fundamentalist Christianity.  I would be less bothered by, for example, an eclectic Wiccan making changes to the Charge of the Goddess to have it better suit them, because many pagan traditions are largely syncretic by design, and accept a wide variety of what we call "unverified personal gnosis" as valid, for the person receiving it if nothing else.  It's sort of different when you have a single holy book that is purportedly the outright dictation of the Lord himself to mortal scribes, in essence, and this is a very specific prayer listed therein.  To change that?  Is basically to say "Thanks, God, but I am going to change the words of the prayer You gave us to suit my own political purposes."  I'm not a Christian anymore, but if I were, I would be horrified to see the Lord's Prayer used this way.

On another level, it smacks of neocolonialism and a truly absurd level of American Exceptionalism.  He is basically expressing a desire that the world be remade in our image.  Yeah, in case you hadn't noticed, Lou, we've tried that.  We're still doing it.  And it has resulted in a lot of pain and death and deliberate genocide, and the irretrievable loss of cultures and languages and belief systems, all eradicated in the name of Christianization.  That is a terrible history.  That is not something to aspire to or ask your god's blessing to make it happen (more/again).

It also occurs to me that just replacing one word with the other like that conflates America and Heaven (most likely by design).  Which is more than a little disingenuous, especially that when you judge the U.S's situation by the metrics of Jesus' dictates - love one another, care for the sick and the poor, etc - we are a truly epic failure.  Even if there actually were somewhere on this planet where things are "on Earth as it is in Heaven", it sure as fuck isn't in this country.

And this is why we say things like, "The Christian Right is neither."

*Which is why I laughed myself silly at one of my father's attacks in our last angry altercation over his political proselytizing: he accused me of "not being able to handle hearing what the other side has to say" as an attempt to undermine my response because I had flat-out refused to watch Glenn Beck videos he wanted me to see.  Sorry, Papa, I am on the Outrage Watchers program.  I only get a limited number of Rage Points to spend every day, and I'm not going to blow them all on one Glenn Beck video just to prove a point to you.  But it certainly makes it an absurd assertion that I'm "insulating myself from honest debate" or some such.


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