“God Bless You, Goddammit!”

To most of the godless, I’m guessing, God’s blessing
Is nothing but static–just meaningless noise
If noticed, it’s slightly annoying (so cloying!)
A sign that you’ll never be “one of the boys”
Ubiquitous mentions of Jesus don’t please us,
But mostly they’re yet one more thing to ignore
“God bless you!”, like God on our money, is funny–
An out-dated remnant of habits of yore

If someone abuses “God bless you!” to stress you,
To say you’re not equal, to say you’re a freak,
To say “you’re not one of our brothers–you’re others
(Although that’s the way No True Christian would speak)
And if it’s the state that decides to deride you–
Your officer, teacher, or government hack–
The time to remain unoffended has ended
A line has been crossed, and it’s time to fight back.

So a spittle-flecked post at the American Thinker (titled “To an atheist, ‘God damn it’ should be equal to ‘God bless you’“) crowed about Mikey Weinstein apparently getting his comeuppance:

Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), was interrupted in the middle of his victory dance last night when Robins AFB officials reversed their earlier decision that day prohibiting base personnel who interact with the general public from using the phrase “Have a blessed day.” Earlier in the day, Weinstein had boasted on his website of how quickly he had forced military officials into correcting the violation regarding the separation of church and state on military facilities.

The American Thinker’s argument is an odd one–it apparently takes the ubiquity of “God damn it!” in military language as evidence that the military obviously believes in said higher power.

With that logic, non-believers should also be offended by the use of the Lord’s name in vain on all military facilities, as that term also implies that a higher power has an influence to wreak havoc in your day. The MRFF staff should challenge military installations to eliminate the “God damn it” phrase throughout the military.

Of course, by his argument, the ones who should be moving to outlaw such speech are those for whom it is a violation of a sacred commandment, rather than atheists, but consistency is not really a human attribute. The notion that it is a trivial use would be an argument against the atheist’s case, but would frankly make it a worse violation of “taking the lord’s name in vain”.

Anyway, as always, in the comments (never read the comments!) there are those who misrepresent Mikey, as usual, and those who tell the atheist to nut up, grow a skin, and recognize that there will be language you don’t like when you are in the military. Which got me thinking… Mikey doesn’t mess around, and he knows his law. If this was just talk amongst people, I doubt he’d have bothered. But if it looked like it made the military affirm a particular religious stance, then of course anyone who just says “grow a thicker skin” is shirking their sworn duty to protect and defend the constitution. They are part of the problem.

And it does look like that is the case.

It all started March 9th when the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent an ‘infraction report’ to Robins leadership.

On no less than 15 occasions over the last two weeks, I have been greeted by the military personnel at the gate with the phrase “Have a blessed day.” This greeting has been expressed by at least 10 different Airmen ranging in rank from A1C to SSgt. I found the greeting to be a notion that I, as a non-religious member of the military community should believe a higher power has an influence on how my day should go.

The security forces commander then ordered his airmen to use a less ‘sectarian’ greeting, such as ‘have a nice day.’
Now that ‘blessed’ is back, MRFF president Mikey Weinstein is fuming. He compared ‘have a blessed day’ to a more nefarious greeting.
“This an example where it’s fine to say, ‘Welcome to Team Robins,’ but, as I said before, what are you going to do if the gate guards say: ‘Welcome to Team Robins, hail Satan!’,” Weinstein said.
He continued, ”this is a vicious savaging of the constitutional protections that are afforded by the First Amendment along with Department of Defense regulations. The Air Force has not heard the last of this.”

“God bless you”, like “God damn it!”, is in no way some magic collection of phonemes. Like all words and phrases, its meaning depends crucially on context. And in the current context, it is wrong. Not because a commandment says so, but because the constitution does.


  1. some bastard on the internet says

    But, but, but… the Constitution was based on the Bible, dontchaknow!

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … consistency is not really a human attribute.

    I would complain about Molluscan Superiority Complex – if only it weren’t so goddamn justified!

  3. says

    Am I a bad atheist because I think “Jesus Fuckin’ Christ” is a wonderful collection of consonants that come together nicely to make a very satisfying expletive?

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Yes, Tabby Lavalamp, but only because pronouncing the “ing” without the apostrophe is even more aesthetically pleasing.

  5. D-Dave says

    Regarding ‘God bless’ vs ‘God damn’, I’m reminded of a comment left on one of the threads commemorating the life of Terry Pratchett – that dwarves have no religion but do have gods. When you accidentally hit your thumb with a hammer, it’s nice to be able to blaspheme. :P

  6. Kate Jones says

    On the subject of curses
    In prose and in verses
    Three topics stand out:
    They’re verbalized smugly
    To make sex sound ugly,
    And throw God and feces about.

    When being selective
    Of lusty invective,
    Why those three? What makes them the worst?
    With sex, God and shit
    Euphemistically writ
    For sheer malice the assholes rate first.

  7. says

    “God Dammnit!” Is my most common expletive. To me it is meaningless except as noted previously, it is a satisfying noise to make even though meaningless. Like “Oh Shit!” You do not literally mean there is actual excrement present or that someone should do it immediately, It is nothing more than a stress reliever.

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