Although a vast majority of cars don’t sport bumper stickers, there are still a number of us who do. Some are for candidates or issues, while others tell us where the occupant has been. And then there are ones that express a joke or vulgar suggestion. The common thread is that each one tells you a little something about the owner. As for myself, with the exception of a pro-life sticker, all of mine have been for our political representatives (no great surprise there huh?) Campaigns tell us that a bumper sticker is typically as valuable as a several hundred-dollar donation to the candidate. After all, visibility and name recognition are a critically important component of victory.
Anyway, while driving to work yesterday, I traveled behind an otherwise forgettable car. Although the vehicle in front of me expressed a handful of messages, one and only one of them stuck in mind. It was a simple black and white one, which read, “America Bless God”. It is a twisting of the more traditional “God Bless America”. At first glance, I thought it a call to a renewed spirituality. So many professing Christians believe that the nation as a whole has lost its moral bearing and we are awash in moral relativism, the premise that morality is fluid and personal, rather than fixed and universal. This idea is troubling to both Christians and conservatives alike.
Upon further reflection though, I discovered a whole different shade of meaning. Think about it. America bless God? Does that statement make sense? How can America bless God? I suppose it depends on how you define “bless.” Typically when I think of blessing something or someone, it is to grant some sort of special favor or to make holy. Obviously America can do neither of these two things to God. According to my Microsoft Word dictionary the word can also mean “to declare approval and support for somebody or something” or “to express heartfelt thanks to somebody”. Regardless, the phrase “America Bless God” jogged my memory of a Bible verse. Hebrews 7:7 reads, “And without question, the person who has the power to bless is always greater than the person who is blessed.” (NLT). Applying this verse to the bumper sticker leads to some rather unsettling conclusions. If America can bless God that means that America must, by this definition, be greater (more powerful, holier, etc) than God. I doubt (or at least hope) that the owner of the car doesn’t hold America in higher regard than God. In my mind, the whole “America Bless God” rhetoric harkens back to the McCain campaign’s slogan “Country First”. Don’t misunderstand…I love this country as much as anyone else, but if you were to strip away the ideological and religious foundations you will invariably be led to blind patriotism, worship of the state, and totalitarism. Although they both sound good on the surface, their deeper meanings place America above principles, above God, über alles. Is that the kind of bumper sticker values you have plastered on your vehicle?