by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – God Bless America has been sung at Major League ballparks across the country, as a seventh inning ritual since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but does it still belong?

A recent op-ed piece written by a minister in the Washington Post posits that the tribute to our soldiers at baseball games, and those who have lost their lives fighting for our country, runs its course with the Star Spangled Banner, and with the ode to America’s pastime – “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

More importantly, he suggests that “God Bless America,” specifically the ‘God’ part, has no place in the public setting of a baseball game, and refuses to stand up for the song at Nats games.

I stand for the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the acknowledgment of returning soldiers, and for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Because I’m a minister, it might seem odd for me not to stand for “God Bless America,” too. But I sit to stand up for my religious beliefs.

The Junkies had a roundtable discussion about the very issue Tuesday, which unsurprisingly turned into a shouting match of dissenting opinions between EB and JP, in a matter of moments.

“We’re supposed to have freedom of religion and freedom of non-religion in this country,” JP said. “It seems like it’s forcing religion upon the people at a baseball game.”

“It’s about honoring the country, honoring soldiers, honoring people that have died for our country,” EB battled back. “I don’t have any problem with it whatsoever. Nobody’s putting a gun to his head and making him stand. He wants to sit? He can sit. But we also have a right to tease him if we want to.”

“I think it’s just being respectful,” EB later added.

“You know why? You look kind of like a jerk if you’re just sitting there and everybody else is standing,” Cakes said.

“I go to Jewish ceremonies. I’m not Jewish. I put on the Yarmulke. I’m respectful of the people there,” EB said.

“That’s different!” JP shouted back.

Further critical of the song, the minister warns of the self-importance of the ‘Bless America’ portion of the song’s title, insinuating it establishes a dangerous precedent.

At ballparks across the country, we are expected to participate in what can be described only as a prayer to ask God’s blessings on our nation. As nice as blessings are, singing this song doesn’t feel like it has integrity the way signing our national anthem does.

When we ask for blessings to be bestowed only on “us,” we are in danger of seeing ourselves as set apart from the world. Faith is global, and one nation doesn’t get any more or less of God than any other.

“We’re saying God bless AMERICA,” JP emphasized the minister’s point.

“That doesn’t mean don’t bless everybody else!” EB screamed back. “If I say God bless you, that doesn’t mean don’t bless Jason! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

You’ve heard both sides. Now it’s time for you to sound off. God Bless America: Pump it or Junk it?

Follow JP and EB on Twitter.


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