The Christian God and the American God

Given the values that the Establishment Clause was meant to serve, I believe that government can, in a discrete category of cases, acknowledge or refer to the divine without offending the Constitution. This category of “ceremonial deism” most clearly encompasses such things as the national motto (“In God We Trust”), religious references in traditional patriotic songs such as the Star-Spangled Banner, and the words with which the Marshal of this Court opens each of its sessions (“God save the United States and this honorable Court”).
– Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day-O’Connor, June 14, 2004 


In short, references to “God” in American civil life cannot refer particularly to the Judeo-Christian conception of God, which is why we can allow “In God We Trust” on our currency but cannot allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed in our courts.  According to Sandra Day-O’Connor, the only permissible religion for American civil life is “ceremonial deism.”

Since becoming a Christian (almost ten years ago now), I have always seen the gospel and the American system as deeply opposed to one another.  In the simplest terms, the gospel is the good news that there is a king enthroned, and his name is Jesus of Nazareth.  How can this be heard as good news by a people who find their only common identity in rejecting kingship and enthroning instead each individual?

What do you think?  Can the Christian God and the American God be one in the same?  If not, how should adherents to American “civil deism” deal with the the subversive claims of Christians?  How can Christians deal with the American simulacra of Christian themes?


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