Today Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It is allegedly a secular holiday now but its origins are steeped in religion. On 6th September 1620, 102 men, women and children left
England for a new life in . Thirty five of the travellers were Puritans, unhappy with James I who would not adopt their ideas about how God should be worshipped. Obviously they would be able to worship how they wanted in America because there would be nobody there to stop them. In 1621 in America Plymouth, New England (imaginative lot weren’t they?) to celebrate their successful harvests and to give thanks to God for their fortune, the settlers tucked into a feast of turkey and goose. Thanksgiving was born. The date got shifted to where it is now in the 1940’s by F D Roosevelt to extend the Christmas shopping period. The sales start tomorrow – Black Friday. (at least that’s what I think Black Friday is for but I am in the south! Who knows?!). Sales before Christmas are better. In the UK you feel utterly ripped off when all the crap you gave and received for Christmas is in the bargain sales bucket on Boxing day. Weirdly, Thanksgiving is like a Christmas day albeit without presents and a Christmas tree but it has the traditional turkey roast, friends and family gathered and a deluge of sales ads on TV!
I wonder what the Pilgrims would make of the absence of God in the society they are acclaimed to have found. Well – absence isn’t quite true. In a recent poll (I may have made up …but didn’t) 96% of Americans believe in God…. But there is a web of silence…
‘In God we Trust’ is on every American dollar and swearing allegiance to the flag is done as ‘one nation under God’. Just as an aside, My son’s rendition of swearing allegiance is hilarious. He knows the tune rather than the words and it is done with a total American twang! They do it every morning at school. He has to do it on a regular basis on Skype to the relatives. In
, every morning in school, the children simply swear! England
Here, every other building is a Christian church and yet I have been told you can not say ‘Happy Christmas’ in case it offends so ‘Happy Holidays’ is used. Religion is the one thing no one talks about. I expected to be invited to everyone’s church. In fact I was warned about it before I came. A neighbour asked my daughter to join them for a Sunday morning church session but I declined on her behalf. I haven’t been asked. Maybe I have something of the devil about me beyond saving!
The 'Yellow Pages' listing for Churches is just mad. Under each heading is a huge list of individual churches. The headings include Presbyterian, Presbyterian Evangelical, First Baptist, United Methodist, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal Zion, Assemblies of God, Baptist Free Will, Baptist independent, Baptist missionary, Baptist southern… this list goes on and on and they have the Pilgrim Fathers to thank for that! The strange thing is, it is not talked about by any of the Churches’ respective flocks. (I said FLOCKS!)
It reminded me of a Monty Python sketch in the Life of Brian. You know the one where they are in secret anti Roman groups…. I have changed just some of the words and names (all the swearing is original Monty Python!)…
The Life of Jane
JANE: Are you the
? Zion Baptist Missionary Church
CHUCK: Fuck off!
? We're the Missionary Baptist Church of Zion! Zion Baptist Missionary Church . Cawk. Zion Baptist Missionary Church
JANE: Can I... join your church?
CHUCK: No. Piss off.
JANE: Hey. I don’t want to commit sin. They make me do it. I hate the Devil as much as anybody.
TAMMY: Are you sure?
JANE: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Devil already.
CHUCK: Listen. If you wanted to join the M.B.C.Z, you'd have to really hate the Devil, and Catholics.
JANE: I do!
CHUCK: Oh, yeah? How much?
JANE: A lot!
CHUCK: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Devil are the fucking
Zion Baptist Missionary Church
BOB: And the
Zion Missionary Bible Baptist Church
M.B.C.Z : Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the
Missionary Baptist Church of . Zion
M.B.C.Z : Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
Missionary Baptist Church of . Splitters. Zion
CHUCK: We're the Missionary Baptist Church of Zion!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Episcopal Baptists.
CHUCK: Episcopal Baptists! C-huh.
BOB: Whatever happened to the Episcopal Baptists, Chuck?
CHUCK: He's over there.
It has been tough enough choosing a Doctor, school and Hairdresser (all of which I need to share with you). Thank God I’m an atheist and I don’t have to decide who to entrust my soul to whilst in