Washington Post political reporter Karen Tumulty wrote Monday about the growing use of the idea of "American exceptionalism" by political conservatives as a "battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars."
Sarah Palin and many other prominent conservatives assert that "God has granted America a special role in human history." It is this belief about America's destiny that they say is "under attack" by liberals who downplay America's distinctiveness.
Are these leaders saying that America has a special relationship with God? How do you interpret this?
Your tweets below, scroll down for panel responses.
YOUR TAKE: Are supporters of "American exceptionalism" saying that America has a special relationship with God? How do you interpret this? Use #Exceptionalamerica to respond on Twitter
Elizabeth Tenety on November 29, 2010 12:26 PM
The fact that the idea of American exceptionalism is alive and well among the general public is not so surprising given its longstanding presence in American cultural DNA. But the current dominance of the exceptionalism-as-divine-hall-pass should concern those who hold in high esteem Winthrop's conception, which made divine exceptionalism dependent upon the moral behavior of the nation rather than the other way around.
Posted by Robert P. Jones, on December 3, 2010 12:36 PM
Accepting that America is exceptional due to God's unmerited favor breeds the virtues of gratitude and humility. A belief that America is the recipient of divine favoritism, on the other hand, breeds arrogance and triumphalism.
Posted by Jonathan Merritt, on November 30, 2010 8:58 PM
I feel quite confident from my limited theological insight, and even more limited knowledge of history, that God is not in any sort of special covenant relationship with our nation.
The Founding Fathers were a bit more modest, seeking only to establish a more perfect union. A century and a half of reality will do that to dreams.
Posted by Jason Poling, on November 30, 2010 1:47 PM
Of the strongest signs (and reasons) that America is a blessed nation, is that even in a time of worldwide political and economic crises, ours is a country where at every level, from the federal court where a man's lifetime hangs in the balance, to a grade school classroom, we have the right to shine the light of equality and justice on everyone.
Posted by Shmully Hecht, on November 30, 2010 12:11 PM
While the left offers American guilt trips and sheepish apologies, the right encourages American pride, gratitude for our many blessings, and a greater commitment to the global responsibilities with which they come.
Posted by Danielle Bean, on November 30, 2010 8:33 AM
We are biological creatures embedded in a planetary ecosystem that recognizes the claims of no special class of being, much less the class within a class of national identity. The planet doesn't know or care what an American is, and consequenly I don't believe God does either. For me the two are the same.
Posted by Clark Strand, on November 30, 2010 8:27 AM
America is exceptional; its democracy has been a model for the world; its Constitution is, simply put, brilliant. America is also exceptional in that it incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world, and that its economy was and is built on the backs of poor people, specifically slaves.
Posted by Susan K. Smith, on November 29, 2010 9:29 PM
There is no doubt that America has a special relationship with God. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges God's role as right-giver while the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments recognize the free will of man.
Posted by Jordan Sekulow, on November 29, 2010 5:46 PM
I agree with Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich (in a rather roundabout way) that America was formed as an exceptional nation because of a special relationship with God. The framers of our U.S. Constitution wanted no part of the religious intolerance and bloodshed they saw in Europe and wisely established the first government in history to separate church and state.
Posted by Herb Silverman, on November 29, 2010 4:55 PM
A "God-given" exceptionalism is really kind of lazy. It doesn't really require any work on our part, does it? In that view, God does all the work of guaranteeing our exceptionalism--it's the idea that divine providence equals an outside force controlling human affairs. It's self-deceptive and sentimental feel-good religion (and politics) that has nothing to do with the Bible.
Posted by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, on November 29, 2010 4:55 PM
The notion that America has been specially singled out by God has a long history. As an atheist, I find it difficult to take it very seriously. After all, if there is no God, then it's not very likely that He has blessed America.