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Why I’m Not A Proud American This Year

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By Jan Shannon

This is the first Fourth of July I’m not proud to be an American.

I used to be a proud American, raised in a family that believed in the phrase, “My country, right or wrong, my country.” I was proud to join the Air Force at 18 years old, so proud to serve, proud to wear the uniform. I used to be a proud American, but like many others, that has changed.

My father came here in the 1930s from Canada, an immigrant in a time when the ideal of the American dream of rags to riches still happened, and if you just work hard you could become rich. My father believed in that dream. He came from a poor, single-parent family in northern Canada as a young man in his early 20’s to California, worked hard and made a million. Do those stories still happen? I don’t think so. Now we look at the immigrant as the enemy trying to cross our borders and take our jobs. Donald Trump made ugly statements about immigrants that are hateful and hurtful, and this man is running for president! The fact that anyone in this country would vote for him is something I cannot understand.

This country was built by immigrants — all White Americans are immigrants! When whites got to this country they stole land, slaughtered the indigenous people, and called it progress. Now those same white immigrants have created a system based on enslaving people of color. Whites made laws that require native tribes to go to the white government and ask permission, please, to build a community center or casino or any other business they can think of to make money for their tribe, and the laws that we’ve instituted govern whether or not they’re allowed to build those things. That’s ridiculous! We ought to just give them back all the land they ever had, gratefully, and give them compensation on top of it.

Blacks were brought here in 1640 as slaves and kept enslaved for over 200 years. A war was fought to free the slaves, but after winning the Civil War, the government simply kept the blacks enslaved through economic means. The flag that the South flew, that loudest of all silent testimonials to racism, is still being flown over state houses in the new South…”new South” my eye! The South hasn’t changed its racist ways, and neither has the rest of America. Cleveland isn’t in the South and yet a 12-year-old boy was shot by police for playing with a toy gun in a neighborhood park. In 1965, civil rights legislation was passed but here we are, over 50 years later, still fighting for civil rights, watching innocent black people still being slaughtered in the streets because of their color.

America passed suffragette voting laws in 1920 to give women the right, and you’d think that  would’ve made us equal with men in this country, but still in 2015 women only make 73 percent of what a man makes doing the exact same job. That’s ridiculous.

Lest you think I have completely given up on this country, I still have hope. I have hope for our future when I see a little girl stand up to hatred during a Pride parade. I have hope when I see white folks show up to protest violence against blacks. I have hope when I see my nation’s capital decked out in support of civil rights for all.

When will I be a proud American again? I’ll be proud American when police stop killing unarmed young black men simply because they’re black.

I’ll be a proud American again when LGBTQIA Americans are fully accepted into society and when LGBTQIA kids get stop getting kicked out of their homes by their bigoted “Christian” parents, and forced to live in the park simply because of who they are and who they love.

I’ll be a proud American again when the majority mainstream religious voice that says all faith traditions are valid isn’t hushed into silence by the loud minority that preaches hell and damnation for anyone who doesn’t believe exactly like they do.

I’ll be a proud American again when every state in our country makes it harder to own a gun than a dog.

I’ll be a proud American again when no one has to hide their head in shame simply because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe.

I’ll be a proud American again when “freedom of speech” and the 2nd Amendment doesn’t look like this.

I’ll be a proud American again when our government spends as much to heal the broken bodies and souls of our veterans as it did to arm and train them.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to celebrate, but for this year I’m gonna go to the ballgame, have a hot dog, enjoy the fireworks, and cry when they sing the national anthem.

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28 comments

  1. Jan, who are you going to stand with when the persecution of Christians come from the government just because Bible following Christians do not accept the cultural definition of marriage. If you are a professing Christian will you stand with the culture and join in the persecution or will you side with those of us who take God’s word very serious?

    • Scott, thank you for your question. As a Christian minister, and one who takes the word of God very seriously, I will always stand up for my beliefs whenever they are questioned, but no government can take away my faith. Governments come and go, and the laws they make come and go, but God remains the same. God’s law of love will never change. Blessings on you!

      • Scott Davidson

        Jan, thank you for your response but you sidestepped my question. I am going to gather that your affiliation with Westminster would mean that you support same sex marriage. A time is coming when you will have to choose who’s side you are on. The government is going to persecute Christians who agree with God that marriage is a covenant given by God between one man and one woman (see Genesis 2:21-25) and is confirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:5-6.

        • Scott, you and I bring different interpretive lenses to scripture, and I see no reason in entering into a debate on it, as you are likely not going to be convinced by anything I might say.
          My article describes the sadness I feel about the many ways our government, and the American people, show disdain rather than love for the neighbor. Do you share my sadness over the unChristian way some self-described Christians act, or do you think that denying rights and freedoms to people based on their color, gender, or sexual orientation is how Jesus taught us to act?

          • Scott Davidson

            Jan, I am not trying to debate but rather trying to get to the truth. I ask you to look at 2 Peter 2. Peter finishes this section with the verse that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation….. When you use words like interpretive lenses that screams of I want God’s word to say what I want it to say rather than letting God speak Himself and saying no matter what this is what God states.

            Can you at least agree that since you said you take God’s word very seriously that God and Jesus both when mentioning marriage only established it between a man and a woman?

            I understand what your article did say and I do appreciate your feelings but I want to drive you back to what you said that you take the word of God very seriously as do I, but in regards to this, one of us is not standing with God. I ask you to look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-19 and the concept behind these 3 verses.

          • Scott, yes, this is a debate. You want to debate the inerrancy of scripture, and you’re on the Pro side. While I revere the bible and base my life in its teachings, I take into consideration it’s age, who wrote it, and the culture of the writers and their readers.

            Here’s a link to an article you should read. It will help you understand that the text you read, with your “Christian” lens and your bias toward inerrancy, is probably not what the original writers meant it to say. Give it a read. http://www.sojourngsd.org/blog/sixgenders

          • Jan, it saddens me to hear someone, and especially one with the title of minister, diminish God’s most cherished word. You just exposed yourself in this last comment when you say you take into consideration it’s age, etc…….

            I will pass on the link you provided. I would much rather have my Christian lens then to be deceived so badly by the enemy that I would call evil good and, well I think you know the rest.

            The one thing I noticed is you never commented on the Genesis and Matthew passages. My experience is silence indicates you know the truth but choose not to admit it.

          • Scott, your tone in that last comment is harsh. To say that I “expose myself” seems to infer that I was hiding something or trying to be deceitful, neither of which is true. I entered this conversation with you, a conversation I might add that is supposed to be in regards my article and not a debate on the inerrancy of scripture, in the spirit of kinship in Christ. If you are now going to accuse me of lying, which is a sin on your part, I begin to wonder about the state of your heart.

            As to why I did not respond to your comments on Genesis and Matthew, I did, actually, hence my sending you the link to the article you say you will “pass” on. So, you won’t have the decency to read an article that could clarify my position, without me having to take the time to explain these basic truths to you, and then you say that I “know the truth but refuse to admit it.” How rude.
            The truth of the Bible, from first page till last, is that God is love, and that God’s goal for humanity is redemption and reconciliation. You seem more bent on exclusion and rejection, two of the things that Jesus yelled at the Pharisees for. See Matthew 22 & 23. Jesus called them “blind guides” for trying to keep people out of the kingdom of heaven, aren’t you doing the same?

            As for not responding to questions, you have not responded to these questions; “Do you share my sadness over the unChristian way some self-described
            Christians act, or do you think that denying rights and freedoms to
            people based on their color, gender, or sexual orientation is how Jesus
            taught us to act?”

            Do you think Jesus would have turned away anyone who was in need? Do you support the actions of so-called Christians who would turn someone away from the altar and the saving grace of God simply because they sin? Is that what Jesus did? Doesn’t our holy text say, “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved”? All. Not some. Not just the ones you deem deserving. All.

          • Scott Davidson

            Jan, I say you expose yourself because you deny the inerrancy of Scripture. If you deny any part of it you deny all of it. I have no doubt that you profess to put your faith in Jesus. I believe that you truly believe in Him but Jesus did not die on the cross so God’s word can be twisted and distorted to satisfy an agenda. As for coming across as harsh, I do apologize. It is impossible to know exactly how the other person is coming across.

          • Scott, like so many other people of faith I know, all very moral and respectful people, , if the Bible says we must accept a God who arbitrarily discriminates against loving people, I will choose not to hold it as much of an authority. I will refuse to believe in a God who is a bigot.

          • Interesting choice of words Tom. Who are we to question God? I point you to Psalms 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. I ask you to look up Psalms 5:5 & 11:5. I ask to share your thoughts on these 2 verses?

            I don’t know if you are a Christian or not but are you able to serve a God when there are verses such as the last 2 that I provided you? Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? And the passage in Ezekiel 16:49-50 was one of the many sins of these cities but along with the Genesis passage you also have to look at Jude 7 “…Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.” So, again, while homosexuality was not the only sin in which the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged, it does appear to be the primary reason for the destruction of the cities. Does this make God a bigot to you?

            Does that sound like a God who follows the agenda you are talking about? Now, I do want to leave you with this. God is love, we know this from 1 John 4:8 and we also know that God desires that every man be saved as we are told in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked from Ezekiel 18:23. But God will never condone sin and as a just and patient and loving God He must deal with sin in a manner He chooses otherwise what’s the point in serving a wishy washy god who allows every sin?

          • I have left two churches because of their bigotry against homosexuals. Neither would accept my fathers in law because they were gay, both in very long term, faithful and loving relationships, both good fathers and citizens, better than many other church members. If you knew your history, you would know that the concept of homosexuality was not developed until sometime in the 18th century. And you see it as a perversion. I don’t. Many animals and pants seem to cultivate same sex relations. Some species are unisexual, self impregnating. Many move from one sex to another and back very readily. Homosexuality, as applied to them seems to be natural and more a sign of God’s fecundity. There is no evidence that homosexuality involves more violence or exploitation of power than any other type of sexuality; in fact, often the suggestion of research is that it involves less. Homosexual couples tend as a group to raise children as healthy or more healthy than heterosexual parents. Here is my question::: How can you say it is a perversion?
            I am insulted and offended by your implication that just because I accept homosexuality while you say it is a sin that I think God would accept anything as acceptable. I actually think that your refusal to use good scientific and historical methods as a grievous sin, a willful ignorance. But, I suspect your ignorance allows you to feel good about yourself. That’s OK, but please don’t think I’m less than you because of that. Check yourself for the sin of pride.

          • Tom, If we sat down you would see that I do not dilly dally around and social media is probably the worst place to have a discussion because neither party can see any emotions, etc… I want you to know that my discussion is with concern in my heart but no malice and I would suspect the same.
            The question is why do I see it as a perversion you state. Because that is what God states it as through His word. Your issue is not with me but it is with God and it is easier for you to direct your comments toward me. Have you ever looked at 1 Corinthians 6:9 Here is what it says: 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men
            Tom, notice the word right in the midst of the descriptions that have to do with sexual immorality. It is the word idolaters. Is it possible that God had that word placed right there due to people, in order to justify their sin, changing who God is to be a god that condones these sins? Also look at the 4 words before these descriptions. It says Do not be deceived.

            What is important is living in the truth of God’s word and you and the two males you referenced are not.
            Tom, how important is God’s word to you? Is it something you believe is inerrant or has errors? Is it something you believe was inspired by God or only written by men?
            I enjoy science and especially when Scripture points to it but when it comes to proving anything I stand with God’s word as opposed to what any man tries to reveal.
            Tom, I am also curious what the names of the Churches you left were. I suspect they were Churches that took God’s word as authoritative which means they have solid biblical view on sexual immorality. Would I have let them start attending, yes, but once they identified themselves as members of that church body then I would have began conversations with them regarding their sin that they were indulging in and seemingly unwilling to repent of and turn away from it.

          • Jan, I did go to the article and looked through it carefully. The article does not change how God defined marriage. I again point you to Genesis 2:21-25.

          • You say you consider the Bible the inerrant revelation of God–literally “God’s word.” Do I understand you correctly? If not, please ignore the following.

            If so, which Bible? Different sects of Christianity have different lists of books they consider canonical. Do you rely on First and Second Esdras, for example? Or the Gospels of Thomas? What about the “Q?”

            Moreover, which translation? King James is a popular one, and quite pretty to the ear; unfortunately it’s based on Jerome’s Sacra Vulgata which is demonstrably flawed in many respects. Some translations are better than others, of course, but none are without their failings (which is why I personally prefer to check multiple versions).

            Also, what about the parts that weren’t in the original text but have come to be prominent in contemporary Christianity? The most notable example of this is the story of the woman taken in adultery, which didn’t appear in any of the gospels prior to (about) 700 AD. Are Jesus’ words and deeds in this story worth heeding, given that they almost certainly never happened? I’m inclined to think they are.

            Moreover, what about the parts that have been deliberately changed by human beings for reasons we know to be (not to put too fine a point on it) selfish and evil? A prime example of this is Exodus 22:18, where the Latin “venenosus” (literally “poisoner,” more colloquially “one who poisons the well”) was deliberately mistranslated as “witch” or “sorceress” to justify the persecution of women and of indigenous wisdom traditions. Are we bound by the original meaning, or the novel one? Or both?

            Finally, what about the parts of scripture that directly contradict one another? Take the two creation narratives in Genesis, for example–unless they are read as referring to two completely different universes (which begets the question, which one’s ours?), they cannot both be literally true. In such cases, how do you choose which “word of God” to accept and which to reject?

            You have made some very bold claims here, and have even offered a couple citations of Scripture in support of them. You act as though you believe there can be no discussion beyond these few fragments, removed entirely from context and (I would argue) deliberately and grossly misinterpreted. Such a position is severely lacking in honesty and humility, which is why I hesitate to attribute it to you, but your words seem to leave no other interpretation. If you have answers to my questions, I’d like to hear them; if not, I think you might benefit from seeking them out. In any case, may God continue to bless and keep you.

          • Brad, here is what you wrote. If so, which Bible? Different sects of Christianity have different lists of books they consider canonical.

            That is a tired comeback. That I have heard over and over.

            Still, it is man’s way to ultimately ignore what we have and justify a lifestyle of sin and indifference toward God.

            Remember what God said, Do not be deceived.

          • It’s not a comeback, it’s a question, and a legitimate one. You claim to speak on behalf of God, and so I assume you have some source to support your claims that God shares your biases and bigotry; I’m just curious which one you chose and why.

          • Moreover, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you are so averse to actually trying to find out what God says and means, rather than reverting to discredited dogma. It seems to me that you’re the one who is choosing to be deceived here, and that saddens me immeasurably.

          • Brad, what source are we to use to find what GOD says? To see GOD’s word diminished as I have over the last couple years is very disturbing. What makes it worse is that professing Christians have joined in to say that GOD’s word is old and archaic and needs to get with the times and that it was not inspired (GOD breathed) but simply written by men and it is their own thoughts.

            I never claimed to speak on behalf of GOD, but if that is how you see it there is nothing I can do about that. Like the Bereans I search the scriptures. I don’t take this lightly because souls are in the balance.

            I ask you the question that I asked Jan but she never answered directly. If GOD condones same sex marriage (which HE does not) why in Genesis 2:22-25 does HIS word only state man and woman and why would JESUS in Matthew 19:4-6 confirm what GOD stated earlier?

          • I am relieved to hear that you are willing to take discernment seriously. That being the case, I encourage you to consider the original Greek text of the passage from Matthew: specifically, what is commonly mistranslated as “man and woman,” which is ambiguous and can be interpreted as referring to two types of human beings, is actually “the man and the woman,” referring to those specific individuals (Adam and Eve). Your interpretation is a stretch, at best, and is not supported by Scripture.

          • Sure, in the original greek G444 the word for man is anthrōpos and it does have the meaning: a human being, whether male or female. Ohhhhh, you got me. But I ask you to look at the root of the word anthrōpos which is anēr and this word has the meaning with reference to a particular sex. A sub definition is: used generically of a group of both men and women.

            Brad, you have to use the root word of anthropos to get the true meaning which keeps it as man being the male. Looking back at Matthew 19:5 after the word man is used you then have to look at what it says further. I will help you. It says “shall leave his Father and mother, who’s Father and Mother? His, meaning the male.

          • True, if you torture the text enough you can see it as saying what you want it to say and are determined to find in it regardless of what it says. (The root is not the issue here; the definite article is, and posessive pronouns in Greek and Latin are always male unless they refer to a group or an individual who are all and only female, but I’m sure you know that.) There is a difference between exegesis and eisegesis, and I have no interest in the latter.

          • Then Brad I suggest you not torture GOD’S word to justify same sex marriage or homosexuality.

          • I’ll grant you, Scott, that was almost clever. But as I showed you, your claim that God shares your biases is rooted in a deliberate misinterpretation of a sloppy mistranslation of the words of Christ. It’s clear that you wish to denigrate homosexuals and their allies, and no matter what the Scriptures actually say about the matter you’ll find a way to twist what you can and ignore the rest. I know this because twenty years ago I was very much like you, and but for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the boundless patience of many outstanding scholars, I would likely still be so.

            If you are actually interested in understanding God’s word and will, I’m willing–even eager–to help you do so. But you cannot begin the path of discernment until you pluck the beam of hubris and idolatry from your eye, and that’s not something I or anyone else can do for you.

          • Thanks for the offer brad however my eyes are fine. I will stick with the Holy Spirit as my teacher of GOD’S word if that is ok with you. Outstanding scholars like rob bell?

          • So now that I’ve answered your question, will you address mine?

      • I’ll be standing with you, Jan.

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