Religious Left Mourns Independence Day

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Every year different voices of the Religious or Evangelical Left tut-tut the ostensibly rabid nationalists who mindlessly celebrate the anniversary of their oppressive nation.  “American Exceptionalism,” which supposedly is the invention of the Religious Right, is the original sin demanding constant repentance.

This year’s lament comes from progressive Southern Baptist Jonathan Merritt, son of a former president Southern Baptist Convention president, and author of a new book bemoaning religious conservatives.  Frequently appearing on cable television, he is one of the prominent faces of a new evangelical generation that reputedly rejects partisanship of the Right for “nonpartisan” positions of the Left.

“What makes this party unique from others is that the birthday girl—America—thinks she’s better than everyone else,” Merritt noted of his country’s Independence Day, in an essay nonchalantly called “America the Arrogant.”

It’s essential mythology for the Religious Left that American Exceptionalism is defined by hubristic superiority wielded by conservatives as ideological justification for American imperialism.  That American Exceptionalism is actually much subtler and richer, subscribed to by Americans across the spectrum, and often motivating America’s loftiest aspirations, somehow evades these caricaturists.

Merritt quotes left-leaning columnists Michael Kinsley and Richard Cohen in slamming the evils of American exceptionalism.  But these commentators are as ardent in their exceptionalism as anyone on the Right, having lectured for decades how America must save the world, or model for the world, their own liberal vision of the Great Society.

Somewhat generously, Merritt grants that America is special and great for its generosity, its freedom, its prosperity, and its democracy.  “This is a wonderful place to live, and many citizens of other nations are clamoring to come here while our citizens largely stay put,” he admits.  Merritt calls America “exceptional” but denounces “exceptionalism as

“bad theology” for supposedly claiming that America has “achieved special standing with God.”“

Merritt warns against “exceptionalist politicians” who intimidate their adversaries into silence about America’s flaws lest they lose patriotic credibility.  He cites America’s not so exceptional qualities such as a high murder rate, high execution rate, and a failing education system.  Interesting list.  Most of the “exceptionalist politicians” he rues likely agree that public education is often a scandal.   As to murder rates, they are falling, but nobody defends them.  Nor do the cartoon stereotypes of flag waving hyper patriots truly, widely exist much beyond the relished nightmares of coastal Leftists.

In a key argument, Merritt asks how you would react to a “neighbor” who “made no bones about the fact they thought they were better than you,” “thought they were specially blessed by God and you weren’t,” or required constant reassurance from you about how amazing they were?”  Even accepting these rather distorted expectations of American exceptionalists, the answer really depends on what you might need from your reputedly difficult neighbor.

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  • BS77

    "Religious left"– now there's an oxymoron for you.

    • Jaladhi

      Hey BS77, you stole my line. LOL……

    • Mike Villano

      The Left worships the government.
      Their god is the government, their prophet is a dead white man named Karl Marx and their religion goes by any numbers of names and movements associated with the left.
      Not an oxymoron at all.

  • amused

    Indeed it is … good observation …..since G_D is neither left nor right leaning .

    • kafir4life

      private union membership in 1977 was 23%, now it's under 8%. How come, amused? Amuse us.
      I was in three. Got tired of them going to bat for the losers (like happened to you).
      Did yours get an exemption for StinkyCare (-bo)?

      • Amused

        you're off topic aint ya tagalog ? whatsa matta , you needed to highlight another of your idiot replies . btw your figures are wrong ….no surprise there eh chump ? I doubt if you've ever really worked a day in your life for an hourly wage . Runalong pipsqeakl , go an intimidate some 1st or 2nd graders with your ignorance .

        • Amused

          Sorry , wrong idiot , that one was for you bum4 …er …uh ..kafir4life .

          • tagalog


    • tagalog

      God doesn't have anything to do with religion – religion is wholly man-made. God just is and we take Him as we see Him. Everyone sees Him differently. That's where religion comes from.

      Furthermore, on one's birthday, one is permitted to feel that he's better than everyone else, for that day. That's why we have birthdays and people making a fuss over the Birthday Boy or Girl.

      These things are obvious, and require no thought. But people have chosen not to see the truth.

      I am regularly amazed at how stupid people have become since I was a child. It really is noteworthy; it makes my declining years entertaining, thinking back to President Eisenhower commenting (on Sen. Joe McCarthy), "How stupid can you get?," and wondering when that question will be answered…

      • Amused

        I'm amazed that you can walk and chew gum at the same time tagalog . What I said went right over your head , and your typical ignorant reactionary diatribe speaks for itself .
        And if you can remember Eisenhower , that simply shows you've not improved into your later years ….you're still dumb as a rock . Try re-reading my short sentence atleast 15 x's ….you may actually get it .

        • tagalog

          15 x's would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

          I don't chew gum, and now you've winkled out the reason why.

          • amused

            Of course you don't , you'd trip and fall on your face . And for you chump, just reading is cruel and unusual punishment , and it shows .

          • tagalog

            Once again, you've got me pinned. I quail before your mastery of the true facts.

        • KarshiKhanabad

          You sound just like Bob Beckel since all you do is sneer & insult anyone who disagrees. Get a life.

  • Amused

    ….and yes Tooley get's something right too ……there is indeed ONE man, whom he tags as " THE Religious Left " who espoused such a view on the 4th of July .

  • Kevin

    The children of the Left–all of them–are Godless. Ann Coulter wrote a book about it in which the only thing liberals complained about was Ann calling some 9-11 widows "harpies." Not a single Leftist complained about the title of the book–Godless, The Church of Liberalism. These people worship government and welfare. Period.

    • Tom Parker

      Really. Ann Coulter writes something and that makes it so. Not so simple.

      • gray man

        that's not what he said – before commenting try reading

  • oldtimer

    John21:6 …cast your nets on the right.
    Rev2:9and3:9….they claim to be of our brother Judah(christians also)but are of the synogogue of Satan.
    If you are a true believer, you stick to the word.

  • EthanP

    WE ARE BETTER THAN EVERY ONE ELSE! And the world knows it. It's why, despite our faults, so many millions still seek to come HERE. The LAST BEST HOPE!

  • Citizen Frank

    I disagree with the author, I do think we should Mourn 'Independence Day'. It was a horrible movie, with laughable plot and it had total disregard to even the most basic of the laws of nature. It has cheesy dialogue and ridiculous acting.

    A waste of everybody's time.

    • tagalog

      I liked when they sent the nuke into the control module of the Mothership, though. Right in air traffic controller's lap.

  • Steve Chavez


    They sure celebrate MAY DAY with all the pomp and circumstances though!

  • RoguePatriot6

    America as a whole should mourn that we still have to put up with them.

  • BS77

    Be sure to read Ann Coulter's book DEMONIC, which contrasts the French (leftist mob) revolution, with the American revolution…two entirely different phenomena!! Ann Coulter's column this week is a condensed version .

    • clarespark

      Ann Coulter is too intelligent to have written Demonic with a straight face. I called her out on it here:…. Don't miss what John Adams wrote, quoted at the end. Title: "Coulter's Demons, Melville, John Adams on the late 18th century."

    • Looking4Sanity

      Why bother with Ann Coulter when you can just read Alexis de Tocqueville?

      Read Democracy in America if you want to learn something!

      Ann Coulter is about half a traitor to conservatism in America.

  • RoguePatriot6

    "…..claiming that America has “achieved special standing with God.”“

    It's ironic that he would say this and call it "evil" in light of the path that lib/progressives have put this country onto. In a way he's right, it would be lie or illusion to claim that America has achieved "a special standing with God" but I think he would be surprised as to why that's a lie today. It's a lie because of lib/progressives in this country forcing everyone to except their immorality as "okay" and demonizing those that would speak out against it. Everything un-American, perverted and down right sinful is supported by them and they continue to do this with greater boldness as more and more people fold to them. Leave it to liberals to create the basis or the source of the problem and then criticize the country for having the issue.

  • RoguePatriot6

    "In a key argument, Merritt asks how you would react to a “neighbor” who “made no bones about the fact they thought they were better than you,” “thought they were specially blessed by God and you weren’t,…..”

    What was he talking about? We do have neighbors like that, THEY'RE CALLED "ISLAMIC REPBULICS".

  • mrbean

    Cake wawker Chris Rock says "Happy white people's Independence Day." Here is something that will go right over Chris Rock's head. If all the 50 million plus black people that exist anywhere in the western hemisphere today, less than 100,000 would exist in the western hemisphere today had slavery not occurred. And… the 50 million blacks that do exist in the western hemisphere today would not exist at all anywhere statistically. The average life expectancy of black people in the USA is 69 years for black men and 74 years for black women – but in Africa it is bewteen 32 years and 39 years of age with exception being South Africa at 44 years of age – an that is thanks only to the whites. Even Mohammed Ali understood this when he went to Zaire and when coming back, he said: "Thank god my great great great great grand pappy got put on the boat for America."

  • richard sherman

    Somehow Mr. Merritt failed to mention his heroes: Benedict Arnold, Alger Hiss and Aldrich Aimed.

  • Audrey

    If the left is looking for a perfect nation…the first step for them should be: LEAVE!

  • Schlomotion

    I celebrated the 4th of July fervently, but I agree with Mr. Merritt. He has really put his finger on how obnoxious religious and national exceptionalists are, and he has done so using the rubric of Christian teaching. Mr. Tooley's organization is pro-war and likes to dictate to various American churches that they should be more aggressive, more violent and more chauvinistic in their exportation of Christianity. He has repeatedly belched his ire about the Methodists, and now the Baptists because they adhere to Christ's teachings of love thy neighbor. Again I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin who converted to Deism when someone as fiercely bullyish as Mr. Tooley accidentally painted a clear and appealing portrait of his opponents' beliefs.

  • Looking4Sanity

    The term "Religious Left" is an oxymoron and a myth. There is no light in any of those people. They are modern day Pharisees, and they are ALL going straight to Hell when they die.

  • CeeCee54

    While Jonathan gives America the thumbs down, that no doubt is evidence of leftist professors in his seminaries, we are greived that the blood loss on behalf of this nation is deemed worthless by his mind full of emergent mush. America is not perfect but she has done many things right in the past, including the spreading of the Gospel…because we are eaten up with weak minded theologians as Jonathan has become is sickening to a Holy God who yes, desires the Truth but also desires biblical Truth as well…God is not green, sir, He is righteous though and demands his children be holy as well. Your alignment with leftist leaders in the CNN /Council of Foreign Relations world will lead you to places where the anti-christ flourishes…do not sell your soul, Jonathan.

  • Ghostwriter

    I thought that the USA was a far better country than it's critics give it credit for. Let people like those have those attitudes. I sure don't have them nor do I intend to have them.

  • Iratus Vulgas

    Merritt sounds like a disgruntled adolescent who can't get over not getting to sit at the cool kids lunch table. America is the best and Merritt and his ilk can't stand it.

  • ebonystone

    "the birthday girl—America—thinks she’s better than everyone else,” Merritt noted

    Well, Freedom House gives the U.S., along with about 40 other countries, its top rating of 1-1. Since it rates 194 countries, that means the U.S. rates better than about 80% of the world. Population-wise, things get even better: the 1-1 rated countries total ~ 800 million. With a world population of ~ 7 billion, that means the U.S. rates better than almost 90% of the world.

  • ebonystone

    [Merritt] cites America’s not so exceptional qualities such as a high murder rate, high execution rate, and a failing education system.

    Compared to whom? The murder rate? High compared to Denmark or New Zealand, yes. But pretty good compared to Pakistan, Somalia, of Congo-Kinshasa. The same remark applies to the execution rate.
    Failing education system? He should take a look at the madrassas of Pakistan, the Boko Haram of Nigeria, and the political indoctrination systems of Cuba and North Korea if he wants to see real failures. If our education system is so bad, why are tens of thousands of foreign students flocking to our colleges? How many Americans are heading to Pakistan or Egypt for their education?

  • PAthena

    The United States of America is the only country in the world based on the rational principles of the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal," "that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, like those to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." All other countries are based on the inhabitants having lived there for many years or by conquest. How, after all, did France become France, or England England, or China China?

  • fiddler

    Amused reminds me of Nero who "amused" himself by watching Rome burn.

    • Amused

      No Fiddler , it's more like being amused at watching you morons run around in the arena .

  • Eugene Mason

    I believe we have to be very careful combining "God" and "Country" in today's culture, certainly because the influence of the local church and Christians in general has been so diminished in our nation in the last 2-3 decades. I think Ed Stetzer had a great post on this last week ( and Jonathan makes an excellent point on the idea of "American exceptionalism". Certainly this is an exceptional country–but as one who has traveled to several countries, the citizens of which have pride in their own nations and aren't in a contest to see which country is "the best", the natural pride in being an American must give way to how we can serve others with humility.

  • guest

    Which of us is arrogant? Why do we need to hear from this man? Just because of who his dad was? Really?

  • Amused

    You don't "need " or "have " to hear of him .He is irrelevant , the only reason you even know his name is because the author has found another piece of redmeat to throw in front of you . Getting the expected pavlovian response as usual .