God Bless America, started with controversy

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I found an article on the history of the song “God Bless America” which mentioned that the song wasn’t popular with everyone, it had critics. I wanted to make comments about the below quotes from this article on the history of the song “God Bless America”

The song wasn’t without its critics. Certain Democrats called the song jingoistic, questioning why God should bless America and no other country, and what about separation of church and state? Others griped about Berlin’s pedigree. As a Russian Jew who immigrated to the U.S. in 1893, why should he speak for America? A prominent pastor in New York, Edgar Franklin Romig, grabbed headlines by calling the song a “specious substitute for religion.”

 

As his daughter Mary Ellin Barrett said, “I came to understand that it wasn’t ‘God Bless America, land that we love.’ It was ‘God bless America, land that I love.’ It was an incredibly personal statement that my father was making, that anybody singing that song makes as they sing it. And I understood that that song was his ‘thank you’ to the country that had taken him in. It was the song of the immigrant boy who made good.”

I find the pedigree question laughable. Who better than the person who chose America as home, vs. the person who inherited it, to explain why they chose to stay?

The religion complaint misses its own point. It appeals to God, not America.

But the real point comes from the comment mentioned by Irving Berlin’s daughter. This was a personal, individual song, an individual’s prayer. It wasn’t entwining church and state, it was entwining an individual to God and country, to country not government. People confuse country and government too often.

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