Saturday, March 31, 2012
A Third Awakening
It seems we began a third "Awakening" around 1954, leading to the revamp of the pledge of allegiance to include "One Nation Under God" and "In God We Trust" being stamped on our currency, which Eisenhower approved during his administration. This religious fervor didn't disappear during the 60s, as James Patterson noted in Grand Expectations. America remained a deeply religious and conservative country for the most part, resulting in a great number of bloody battles and deaths over Civil Rights and the Women's Movement. We saw movies like The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Story Ever Told during this time, both of which were big hits at the theater, and both were nominated for numerous Oscars. Jesus Christ Superstar offered a counter balance, but is remembered more for its soundtrack than its images.
Billy Graham had been pastor to the presidents ever since Eisenhower, and Reagan brought Jerry Falwell into the mix in the 80s, greatly politicizing religion, which now appears to be the cornerstone of the Republican party, and the Tea party in particular. Mel Gibson's film The Passion struck a deep chord with religious conservatives, and seems to have been the inspiration for Kirk Cameron's recent religious pilgrimage in Monumental. Both directors strongly advocate a deeper role of religion in politics.
What makes this recent "documentary" by Cameron worth noting is the revisionary tale he presents of the Pilgrims and the attempt once again to make the Founding Fathers appear as high priests, rather than the secular leaders they were. It looks to be a monumental dud. However, it fits with the aim of the current religious conservative movement is to rewrite American history to suit its fundamental religious view of the world. I well imagine they would like to rewrite the Constitution, interspersing "One Nation Under God" and "In God We Trust" throughout the articles and amendments, as there is only one reference to religion found throughout the entire text.