Southern Churches and July 4th Celebrations
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Jul 09, 2016 at 11:11:47 PM EST
I have noticed a growing trend that is spreading like a prairie wild fire regarding July 4th.  Churches are  celebrating the holiday as never before with renewed fervor and participation.  The larger the congregation, the more elaborate the spectacle.  Military men in full combat gear jump with ropes from church balconies while patriotic songs are presented after scores of hours in preparation.  Larger churches shut down all activities outside of a special service to honor the nation.   Many of these congregations will listen to the words of a new song that repeats its refrain, "One nation under God, there is no separation."  Neil Diamond's "Coming to America", will be sung.  Many are wondering out loud what this has to do with Christian worship.
     History records Southern churches smelting down church bells for Confederate cannon balls.  It also notes Baptist papers finding likeable traits in pre- World War II Hitler.  Today hosting two or three patriotic services and honoring veterans is a basic calendar event and growing in local churches.  Frequently guest musicians will play each anthem for the different armed services and ask alumni of each to stand at the front of the assembly while the song is played.  
     This July 4th holiday week end I treated myself to viewing the movie that is called the most successful all time film in box-office history.  I saw the movie based on Margarett Mitchell's novel from 1936 named, Gone with the Wind.  The classic, like another Hollywood hit, Birth of a Nation, is the Southern view of the Civil War.  A public school history teacher recently told me, the Civil War was really the War of Northern Aggression. The viewpoint of the movie portrays a graceful and superior Southern Culture far ahead of the Northern version.  
     Several myths abound in the epic.  The idea of content "darkies" who loved their lives and fought for the Southern cause is the Mitchell legend.  Antebellum culture is portrayed as an empire of knights and chivalry.  The story unfolds to reveal how that this superior culture succumbed to the invasion of a morally depraved North.  Christian Reconstruction claims that the war was fought by a Christian South against a Unitarian North.  One Atlanta scene after the war spells out the results of the conflict.  Honor and decency are now gone in the South as the heroine Scarlett O'Hara is set upon in the city by crude and immoral men now that antebellum culture is overthrown.  Mitchell's saga claims there was a high standard of moral virtue yet it is filled with stories of cousins marrying cousins, brothels, and the chief character devoting her life to perusing a married man.
     Southern myths abound also about religious liberty.  A common legend holds that it was an activist Supreme Court that threw prayer out of public schools.  Truth is that many schools had already ceased this practice and sought refuge in court rulings to make their predicament easier to administer.  
     The myth that founding fathers were active church members is another recent dogma without much merit.  Recent attempts to forge a new version of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are a prime examples.  The idea that the Constitution is not a secular document is another myth much like Disney alligators that talk and are harmless.
     Seldom will there be any mention of the First Amendment, a Baptist offering to the Constitution.  The idea of religious liberty will be offered as an idea that Christians must make a stand and not fear government interference.  Scarcely will anyone mention from the pulpit that any religious view is welcome in America.    Karl Barth warned Europe about their tribal gods that led to bloodshed and war.  "Blessed are the peacemakers" will rarely be quoted.  Haiti once elected a leader who was once a Catholic Priest.  He later on burned 19 soldiers to death and then claimed it was God's will.  Mixing God's blessing with the state can be a dangerous thing.
     There is an old story about a minister who is seeking to raise funds for a new church building.  In the service he announces that anyone who wants to give $1,000 to the building fund can rise to stand as they feel led to respond to the proposal.  He tells the pianist to play a song for people to respond to.  She asks what he wants her to play.  "Play the National Anthem", he replies.



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The former priest elected president in Haiti and later deposed in a coup supported and engineered by the U.S., not once but twice, is Jean-Bertrand Aristide. I can find reports that paramilitary death squads killed people and burned Aristide's church in 1988. There was another church burning and massacre in 1993, while Aristide was in exile. I can find nothing about his involvement in burning soldiers to death. Could you please provide details and sources for the atrocity that you ascribe to him? Thank you.

by MLouise on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 12:22:12 AM EST
Been out of pocket and could not reply earlier.  Story on Aristide comes from a Jimmy Carter book.  The story might not be verified since his critics accused him of such.  I could have come up with a better story to make the point.  However, there are plenty of stories in the press to illustrate the tragic violence committed in the name of God.

by wilkyjr on Fri Jul 15, 2016 at 06:21:28 PM EST
Parent


This ties even more things together.

I've seen similar regarding memorial day - in an Episcopal church (a friend referred to the service as the "Rah Rah WAR!!!" service).  

Recently there has been a lot of online troll activity at sites I frequent, in hostile reaction to Black Lives Matter.  In every case, it's the "Good moral Americans vs those HORRIBLE Others"... and in the way they 'talk', minorities and BLM are portrayed as equally evil in comparison with Islam (in the minds of the trolls - of course neither is evil at all).  Racism is roaring up from the pits it came from, and in nearly every case the troll talks like the people from those churches (some overtly hang out the Good Christian flag in their attacks).  I've even had a mild death threat during this weekend because I exercised Freedom of Speech - the site was accused of being "racist against whites" (minorities cannot be by definition) and I wrote in their defense.  It's been a while since I've had a death threat - a few years, actually.  The last one was back when I was writing letters to the editor and shortly after the arson we experienced (in retaliation for one such letter) - I hope they won't pick up again.

I've also noted that the language of racism is coming out again.  The "N-Word" has popped up a few times, as well as "Redskins" in regard to my own people (and our issues).  It's been quite a long time since I've seen racist bigots openly use that sort of language.

Funny thing, but if you look at the history of Christianity, the practices of today (as varied as they are) would be almost unrecognizable to the people from the early Church (and maybe even later churches as well).  From what you describe, it sounds like the militant ones have gone even further from the roots of the religion.  Funny thing is that the Early church - the very earliest, was very much like the Unitarian church in their beliefs.  I wonder what the early church would call that bunch, with their rabid racism, their glorification of a slave system that was significantly worse and more repressive than that known in "Biblical" times (which was bad enough), and their promotion of war and violence.  From what I've read, it sounds like an inversion of the early church... maybe closer to what Christianity became when it was the official religion of Empire.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 01:04:27 AM EST


I recall reading GWTW as a young teenager, and like most teenage girls, was looking for the sexy bits. The Civil War setting was incidental.

by NancyP on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 12:03:13 PM EST

It is obvious that the antebellum South was specifically chosen, not simply incidental.

Jean Bertrand Aristead was the only democratically elect govt for Haiti for a hundred years and the US couldn't stand it. Such stories of approving of such burnings of soldiers probably happened, there was much to hate about them, but doubtful Aristead would approve of it. There is much propaganda against him and the real butchers before and after him get nice propaganda.

by Nightgaunt on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 02:12:46 PM EST

That's why I requested the author's sources for the story about Aristide. I would not be at all surprised if it traces back to a CIA disinformation campaign. Just one example from my time of solidarity work regarding El Salvador: After the strafing of the only brick structure in the village of Corral de Piedra, news reports in the U.S. stated that five guerillas had been killed in a fire fight. Thanks to two nuns who were living in the village at the time and managed to smuggle out photos, the world learned that the five "guerillas" were four small children and an old man who had been too feeble to flee into the mountains.

by MLouise on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 08:35:10 PM EST
Parent
about Haiti and Aristide.  I took a class (undergrad level) on the Caribbean, which focused heavily on history.  As part of the class, we watched a lengthy video about Aristide, which contained entire interviews with people who knew him.  Two days later I watched a video on PBS which was about Aristide.  They had the same interviews - except that the'd cut out words and sections which made Aristide look REALLY bad - not the intent of the speakers OR what they were saying at all.  I knew/remembered EXACTLY what had been cut out when I watched it.

It made me quite furious - and reinforced what my professors had been telling me about how the US 'media' was pumping people full of propaganda (and distracting them with nice juicy "Reality TV" and the latest celeb gossip).  Aristide was human - the problem was that the US is no friend to Haiti or the Haitian people.  You see, Haiti is the only modern slave rebellion that succeeded - and because of that, the US had invaded Haiti multiple times - to install US policies.


by ArchaeoBob on Mon Jul 11, 2016 at 10:31:24 PM EST
Parent

The way I read your comment "except that the'd cut out words and sections which made Aristide look REALLY bad", you are saying that PBS cut out the parts that made Aristide look really bad, thereby giving a milder view of him than the original uncut interviews did. Is that what you really mean, or should there be a comma after "sections," so that the following dependent clause refers to the editing process rather than to "words and sections"? I would be more inclined to think that the editing had been performed in a way to make Aristide appear worse than he was rather than better, but that's not the way your sentence currently reads. Thank you for any clarification you can provide.

by MLouise on Fri Jul 15, 2016 at 11:18:41 AM EST
Parent
They cut out the parts that explained the rest of what was said and which made him look human (and likeable and a decent person) instead of the monster that the elites want us to think of regarding him.

I apologize for not being clear about that.


by ArchaeoBob on Sun Jul 17, 2016 at 03:15:12 PM EST
Parent

Thanks! That makes a lot more sense than the other way, though I'm quite disappointed in NPR for going along with the disinformation campaign.

by MLouise on Sun Jul 17, 2016 at 10:52:40 PM EST
Parent





At that age, I wanted to read bodice-ripper romance novels, setting of no importance to me. Yes, GWTW can function as propaganda, if readers take it seriously - but even at age 13, I could figure out that GWTW was hokum.

by NancyP on Tue Jul 12, 2016 at 04:53:13 PM EST
Parent



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