If I got up in front of my parent's church, or just about any church for that matter, and said "goddamn," regardless of context, it would be a scandal. I'd be asked to leave. It would make the paper. Old ladies would faint... upon reading it in the paper. Never mind what my future in-laws would do.
Taking the Lord's name in vain (the Third Commandment, for those playing at home) is not kosher. It's offensive. I was recently wondering, though, if merely saying "Oh, my God!" to a shoe sale or funny joke, defined as one not told by Dane Cook, is too narrow a definition of this sacrilege. Understand, I am not for the light usage of the Name of the Most High, even if I have mused as to whether or not you can content "God" and "Lord" are names and not titles. In this, I remain unconvinced, but stalwart in my fear of a self-proclaimed "jealous God" able to destroy my very soul. Anyway, I wondered if invoking the name of God for an action beyond the mere intoning, compounded the sin, should be considered a more true taking of the name in vain.
I took a history class in which we discussed early American movements. John Brown and Nat Turner were discussed. They both killed people for a greater good, the whole class was on board for this interpretation, but we divided them on another issue altogether: John Brown was just pissed off to all hell, which I've always wondered about, and Nat Turner got his marching orders from God. Why God would suddenly change his policy on slavery, I don't know, but Nat was convinced. In light of this schism, general consensus came in that Brown was an angry man, possible a terrorist, while Turner was, in academic parlance, bugfuck. So, when you attach God's name to something, there's some significance in it. You may thing this is a bygone, though. Brown and Turner were about 150 years ago. Normal Americans generally don't give God a second thought, let alone kill in His name. Right?
Wrong. You know better than that. Dr. George Tiller, an abortion doctor (don't worry, I'm not getting into that now), was gunned down on May 31 of this year by Scott Roeder during church service. Tiller was handing out bulletins at the time. Roeder may or may not think that God told him to do this. It doesn't really matter, but when Randall Terry, professional ignoramus, said he "reaped what he sowed," among other similarly ignorant comments, he attached God. He approved of murder in God's name, an attribution in vain.
Killing in the Name is nothing new, but not as nicely confined to the Middle Ages of history as we'd like to think. The American-Philippine war was waged, partially, to "Christianize" the Philippines. Never mind that Spain had already converted an overwhelming majority of the population to Catholicism, America was saving them for Jay-sus (the name I give to the American Conservative God). That was in the early 1900's, by the way. And don't think this Imperialism in His Name isn't still going strong: Bush ran on the platform of Christianity, despite his many evils, like starting a war in Iraq. It shouldn't be surprising that the Muslim world thinks this has been a Christian v. Muslim war because, as far as they can tell and the US has acted, it is. We'll see if there's a faith-based appeal to intervene in Iran and end the repressive Muslim regime. It is oppressive, but most Iranians were Muslim before the Koran was being used to abuse them, and many will continue in that faith when they are free.
We make all these claims about God being on our side, asking God to bless America and facilitate our Imperialism. President Lincoln said, "...I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side." We can no longer justify our actions with a doctrine of divine inspiration. The United States government's actions and inactions will reflect well or poorly on them and their people. Let us no longer allow them to reflect on God, for it compounds our sins.