I’d like to say that I was surprised to discover that religion had hijacked the remembrance of the attacks of September 11, 2001, but I wasn’t really surprised. I’ve come to accept this sort of thing. After all, everything changed on September 11, right? Everything. Like your mother-in-law’s middle name. Well, okay, not everything – just the important stuff, like the idea that we care about the Bill of Rights, including its provision that the Congress will not do anything to establish religion.
Having a religious leader open up the day’s session of the U.S. House of Representatives with a special prayer that lectures the nation, telling Americans how to engage in a national form of religious worship, for example – that would be a form of Congress establishing religion. That’s just what happened Thursday morning.
“On this, the seventh anniversary of the historic tragedy inflicted on this Nation known as 9/11, we, Your people, turn to You, the Lord of consolation, healing, and redemption,” preached the Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin. The American people belong to God now, see. He was speaking before Congress, but he was talking straight to God. Cameras in the Capitol Building failed to show that God was there listening.
“We continue to mourn their loss, and pray Your peace descend upon their families and their colleagues,” he continued. I only have the text transcript of this Christian sermon before Congress, so I don’t know if there was any sense of irony in the voice of Reverend Coughlin at this point. I’m thinking that, if Reverend Coughlin gave a thoughtful sermon, and not just delivering a bunch of catch phrases by rote, there might have been some recognition of the contradiction inherent in his words. There’s a bit of trouble, talking to God about his peace spreading over us, when, as the all-powerful ruler of the universe, God surely could have stopped the terrorist attacks of September 11 happening in the first place, if that’s really what he wanted. But, that didn’t happen. So, either God doesn’t exist, or God doesn’t really care about spreading peace to descend over us at all. Either way, Revered Coughlin must have known that God wasn’t about to go around spreading peace just on his say-so.
“It is said that day changed the world. Lord, help us to embrace the reality of what has changed,” Coughlin said. So Reverend Coughlin wants God to use his magic juju beans to make us Americans embrace torture, Big Brother government spying, and perpetual warfare? Thanks for the heads up, Reverend. I’ll be sure to keep my umbrella handy so that when God sprinkles his supernatural hypno-potion, I’ll be protected. These are not things that I want to embrace.
Reverend Coughlin ended his sermon before Congress with an excuse before God about why people like myself still haven’t joined the ranks of holly jolly believers. “Because our world is spinning so fast, we still cannot grasp Your dynamic stillness and peace,” Coghlin preached.
Oh, yeah. That’s why Christian theology never seemed to make sense to me. It’s because I’m dizzy.
Thanks for the tip, Mr. Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin. You sure earned your 5 minutes in the national limelight with that tip. I’ll just take some Dramamine now, and then I’ll finally start believing in God so that I can fit in with everybody else, all United We Stand. Who knew that my nonreligious nature was just an inner ear problem all this time?