As we were driving home last week from our Thanksgiving trip, I saw a billboard on the side of the highway that said simply "One nation under God." This statement always makes me nervous for many reasons. The first is the conflating of nationalism with religion, which doesn't usually have positive outcomes. The second is that what this truly means is up for wide interpretation, which led me to a new thought.
Those who seem to push this idea the most these days don't seem to be asking for "one nation" but instead "my nation." That is that anyone who doesn't agree with their narrow view are the other, the outsider, non-Americans, and are welcome to be anywhere else then here. This view shuts down all dissent and differences of opinion. It seeks to make "unum" not by consensus or dialogue but by ignoring, or worse silencing, those with whom they disagree.
Of course, one the scripture passages usually accompanying this is from the 33rd psalm which says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," but for some reason the next verse is always left off which says "the people whom he has chosen as his heritage." The way I read this is that it is God who does the choosing not us.
Anytime someone says that there is only one way to be or to think, whether it is conservatives or liberals, then the way has been lost.