Known unknowns: Why America ‘does god’ with a fervent vengeance


NSA-America-GodAmerican voters ‘do’ god with a fervent vengeance. It is, of course, ‘one nation under god’. Every major speech by the US president will end with ‘God bless America’. As Kate Cohen writes in ‘The Washington Post’, “religious rhetoric is so compulsory in the United States that it’s anyone’s guess what candidates actually believe.”

She goes on to say that American politicians have a choice: “Either end your speech with ‘God bless America’ or end your political career.” Click here to read the piece, but if you don’t here’s a key point:

Surveys rank atheism as the trait most likely to turn off potential voters, and atheists are the least trusted group in the United States, less than, say, gay Muslims who never call their mothers.”

‘Do god’. It’s an interesting phrase and became popular in the UK a decade ago, when former prime minister Tony Blair’s media chief Alastair Campbell told a journalist, “We don’t do god”. This, despite his boss being quite prepared to ‘do god’ publicly and with a vengeance. But Mr Campbell judged – correctly – that the UK doesn’t like politicians who ‘do god’.

The phrase is, of course, a modern take on simple, honest belief. But what place, if any, should god have in the political sphere? George Orwell, who passionately disliked Catholicism and considered it appalling that Catholic writers were so vitriolic about atheistic communism (in Spain, Russia, elsewhere)  believed that religion would always be key.

“When one’s belly is empty, one’s only problem is an empty belly. It is when we have got away from drudgery and exploitation that we shall really start wondering about man’s destiny and the reason for his existence. One cannot have any worthwhile picture of the future unless one realises how much we have lost by the decay of Christianity,” he wrote.

The English language has more phrases with god in them than one thinks. Free dictionary lists 50 or so  (below) but there are many more.

“By using stale metaphors,  similes and idioms, you save  much mental effort, at the  cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”           - George Orwell

“By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”
– George Orwell

a God-given right
a man of God
a tin god
act of God
ain’t got the brains God gave a squirrel
an act of God
be in the lap of the gods
consecrate to God
cross my heart and hope to die
damn it
dear me
fit for a king
for God’s sake
for the love of
for the sake of
God forbid
God forbid!
God help
God helps them that help themselves
God knows
God only knows!
God rest her soul
God rest soul
God takes soonest those he loveth best
God willing
God willing and the creek don’t rise
God willing and the creek don’t rise
God’s acre
God’s gift
God’s in his heaven; all’s right with the world
God’s acre
harder than the back of God’s head
has more money than God
honest to God
Honest to goodness
hug the porcelain god
hug the porcelain goddess
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him
in the name of
kiss the porcelain god
lap of the gods, in the
Man proposes, God disposes
mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small
mills of the gods grind slowly
my God
nearer the church, the farther from God
play God
pray to the enamel god
pray to the porcelain god
put the fear of God in
put the fear of God into
Put your trust in God, and keep your powder dry
so help me
sure as God made little green apples
Take the goods the gods provide
thank God
Thank God for small favors
The gods send nuts to those who have no teeth
There but for the grace of God
there but for the grace of God go I
think are God’s gift to women
think hung the moon
tin god
Where on God’s green earth?
Whom the gods love die young
worship the porcelain god
worship the porcelain goddess
Ye gods!
You cannot serve God and mammon