Thursday, May 01, 2003

The following text appears in the current issue of my employer's online magazine. It's accompanied by a picture of a silhouetted soldier with a machine gun slung over his shoulder and a praying figure superimposed on the American flag:

"Thursday, May 1, 2003 is the 52nd annual National Day of Prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to unite together, as one nation under God, to collectively ask for God's mercy and blessing on our country. We urge you to join us in Training Room at 11:05 A.M. as members of the ****** family come together to observe this special occasion and thank the Lord for His goodness to our nation."

It should be noted that my employer claims it doesn't discriminate based on religion, in which case the presence of this piece of emphatically Christian propaganda is rather difficult to justify. As a non-Christian, I'm bothered and very disappointed. Why does corporate America assume its constituents share the same faith? Perhaps more pressingly, why does it feel the need to tout religion in the first place?

If the "Day of Prayer" announcement is an attempt to create a sense of solidarity among employees, my employer is in blatant violation of its own supposedly nondiscriminatory policy. Consequently it alienates those who don't happen to share in the belief than an omnipotent deity chooses to dish out "mercy and blessing" to the United States. Those who don't believe in the theocratic fiction that the US is somehow protected by divine will are implicitly told that they do not belong, that their input is inherently without value and that their belief system (or lack thereof) is starkly invalid.

My company's Christian rallying call (with its obvious "patriotic" connotation) is nothing especially new, and as much as I'd like to be able to blame it on the Bush regime's apocalyptic Christian rhetoric, I know its roots run deeper. Religion is about control. An administration (governmental or corporate) that can appeal to religious inclinations has an immediate monopoly on sentimentality. Americans -- citizens of an ostensibly "godless" society -- are victimized daily by self-righteous "authorities" who peddle hope, fear and pride in the form of religion. The ultimate goal is the destruction of self-worth and independent thought: two variables that pose toxic threats to conformist ideology.

Religion is virulently persistent. Any effort to excise it from our lives must first be able to detect its presence. Ironically, the theocratic drivel churned out by the post-9-11 Bush regime may be the administration's Achilles' heel. Now that its Christian hype and Fundamentalist leanings are flaunted as part of its Nazi-like program of coerced patriotism, the government can be more easily seen as the unconstitutional mutation that it is.

No more "One Nation, Under God."

No more "In God We Trust."

No more "God," period.

No comments: