Happy Fourth of July! Now Let Us Pray?
Should Independence Day be a religious holiday? Some conservatives think so. Brian Magee points out the many ways Religious Right leaders aim to rebrand July 4 into a holiday that favors Christianity.
Ongoing efforts by many religious Americans to dominate American society are largely focused on infiltrating schools and legislatures, but they also aim to steal the country’s secular holidays like tomorrow’s Independence Day. The annual celebration of the country’s birth is becoming a new battleground in an effort to re-brand American as a “Christian nation.”
Perhaps the most visible of these efforts is the Fortnight for Freedom now in its second year. An event organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the goal is to tie the July 4th holiday to efforts to stop or restrict access to contraception, attacking marriage equality and other religious-based initiatives.
There are even ready-made religious sermons just for July 4.
The Fourth of July celebration put on by Brigham Young University is one to “celebrate, teach, honor, and strengthen the traditional American values of family, freedom, God, and country.” The Answers in Genesis people are also making an effort to make sure July 4 is seen in religious terms.
There are those who have penned specific Independence Day prayers that include such sentiments as “We ask You to forgive us for these times,” “We know, Lord, that true freedom only comes through you,” “On this Independence Day I am reminded of all those who have sacrificed for my freedom, following the example of your Son, Jesus Christ,” and “Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn…”
Articles like one from the Texas Freedom Network titled “Independence Day and Religious Freedom” point out that even for those who want to use the country’s founders as a source of guidance on religious freedom today, their sentiments have to be severely twisted to find a desire to create a country based on anyone’s religious beliefs.
Independence Day, just like all national holidays, should truly be a national holiday—meaning it’s for everyone. While the religious freedoms we cherish should be openly supported by everyone, including those who wish to express religious sentiments during traditionally non-religious events, there seems to be a move to transform secular national holidays as religious. Our Pledge of Allegiance and money have already been co-opted to try and present the country as some sort of religious institution; we shouldn’t let our secular holidays be stolen too.
If you know of a July 4 event in your area that’s more religious than secular, tell us about it below. Plus, tell us how you, as a humanist and secular person, celebrate July 4.
Brian Magee is the communications associate for the American Humanist Association.