Texas Town Sign Under Fire
On its iconic sign, the town of Hondo proclaims the area "God's Country." The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization, doesn't like the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the sign may seem.
I say, come on. Give it a break.
The term "God's Country" does not denote a denomination. It doesn't denote Christianity in particular as God is claimed by multiple traditions. But beyond that, the sign doesn't really proclaim any religious message at all. It's just another piece of Texas quirkiness like kinky Friedman's campaigns or another play about Tuna.
What the sign does say is this: “This Is God's Country. Please Don't Drive Through It Like Hell.”
That's kind of a irreverent, don't you think? It doesn't read like scripture at all. I don't suspect to find it in the big book Pope Francis carries around.
Even without the clever admonishment, the term "God's Country" long ago lost any semblance of religiousness. It's a colloquialism in the American South and Midwest to commentate beautiful pieces of nature, unspoiled land gorgeous to the naked eye. Some folks think of the land of sky blue waters in Wisconsin when they hear the phrase; others think of Monument Valley in the desert. The band U2 has a song called "In Gods Country" on its album The Joshua Tree, itself a reference to a national park in the desert and the tree which gives it its name. Would you say the phrase, millions and millions think of places they love.
So when the president of the FFRF suggests a sign which says "This is Vishnu’s Country" would be just as offensive, she's off the mark. The reference to Vishnu would be little more than a head scratcher because it's not part of the vernacular. And the vernacular reflects the way we as Americans speak, reflective of our heritage. It has nothing to do with recognizing the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, The Dalai Lama or the patriarch of Constantinople and the God they may or may not worship.
Herein lies the problem with the FFRF. There's nothing in our Constitution which guarantees anyone the right to be shielded from anything they don't like. Some say quite the opposite: it grants people the right to speak, worship, exist as they see fit, even in public. Citing a cliché present in America's way of communicating is no more an acceptance of God's existence and/or authority than putting stockings above the fireplace is an acknowledgement of the existence of Santa Claus.
And now the folks in Hondo have dug in there heels for a conflict. What good does this do us? The FFRF would be better served to promote tolerance along all, believers and nonbelievers alike. Instead they choose to be confrontational in an effort to unravel this nation's Judeo-Christian fabric which unites many who believe both reason and faith have roles to play in a free society.