When I was a boy, my parents introduced me to organized religion. It didn’t go well. From the start, it became clear that I wasn’t big on anything “organized.”
Through the years however, I searched for the great value religion brings: something grander and greater than yourself to believe in. I always believed in God, but never in the flawed men and women who stood at the lectern and pretended to be His messenger.
I wasn’t proud of this nor did it make me feel right or wrong. It left me with a hole others could fill by putting on a suit and spending an hour at a house of worship once a week. I had no such rock to cling to.
But then, out of nowhere, in an oddly divine way, it came to me: America is my religion. Its freedom, its beauty, its exceptionalism, all come together in something I put my faith in, my heart in, my pride in.
Yes, I am more than an American. I am an “American-ist.” I am devoted to this nation, proud to be its defender, eager to crush its detractors. In its roots, it is freedom of religion, free enterprise–a big-hearted land of unlimited opportunity, soaring mountains, wild ambitions, powerful resolve and a potent ability to change course and correct its malfunctions (as it will soon do once again).
I know America is not and was never perfect but that is not the test. It is gorgeous and kind, strong and magnificent, inventive and immaculate. It is what I belive in. It is what I know was founded by leaders who knew they were engaging in a grand experiment. An experiment that thousands have given their lives for. An experiment that gave us a constitution, that produces
food for the world, that imagined Hollywood, that is still the bedrock of global finance, that conjures up dreams of success in destitute villages across the globe, that gave birth to automobiles, polio vaccines, Lincoln, Hemingway, motion pictures, lightbulbs, Google and Apple.
America is not just another country. It is a magnificent creation, imagined and defended by its people, yes, but more so, by a force greater than even its most passionate believers.
It is my religion. I spell God with stars and stripes.