First off, I've been there and done that: thinking God is on my side. So when I say that this is a crazy belief, I'm criticizing an earlier version of myself -- along with everybody else who has an ego massive enough to believe such a thing.
Which includes the Green family, founders and owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores. Yesterday I wrote a post on one of my other blogs, Salem Political Snark, "Here's 5 good reasons not to shop at Salem's Hobby Lobby."
As part of my Google research for that post, I listened to an interview a Slate podcaster, Mike Pesca, did with Candida Moss, a professor of theology who wrote a book about the Green family's quest to Christianize the United States ("Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby").
Here's a transcript I made of part of the podcast where Pesca and Moss discuss how the Green family just knew that God looked favorably upon their decision to close Hobby Lobby stores on Sunday.
Pesca: In fact, they made a decision early on, the family did, to close the stores on Sunday. How they decided was kind of interesting. They kind of rolled it out slowly, and it wasn't going well at first. But then when it did, they took that as proof it was the Lord's plan all along.
Moss: That's right. They started with states that only had a few stores and closed them there. And by the time they were done with Texas, which had the most stores, then their profits took off again. And they interpreted that as a sign that they had won God's favor.
Pesca: It seems like there are so many instances in your book where that wouldn't be the accurate interpretation, or even a logical interpretation, or an interpretation, you know, that a reasonable person, or anyone approaching a reasonable person would have. But they always interpret everything as telling them that they're right and God is on their side.
Moss: That's right.
This is a dangerous belief.
What makes it dangerous, rather than just plain crazy, is the fact that the Green family has billions of dollars to spend on promoting their fanatical brand of evangelical Christianity, spurred on by their conviction that whatever they do, God approves of it.
Here's how I summarized my blog post on Facebook:
Don't shop at Hobby Lobby, which just opened a store in Salem. Here's the headlines of my 5 reasons why. Those who shop there are having their money go to:
(1) Denying contraception coverage to women employed by corporations owned by religious zealots.
(2) Teaching the Bible in public schools as "true" and "good."
(3) Smuggling artifacts from Iraq, an act that supports terrorism.
(4) Supporting the election of Trump.
(5) Helping fund a $500 million Museum of the Bible.
Item (3) above resulted in Hobby Lobby having to pay a $3 million fine to the government after the company was caught smuggling Iraqi artifacts. So I guess the Green family believes that God approves of illegal acts that support terrorism.
I realize how easy it is for religious believers to look upon themselves as God's chosen people. This belief is comforting. It soothes the ego, even though religious people put on a false humility with words such as "God is doing everything" and "I'm just a servant of the Lord."
False, because I've seen how religious egos go wild when devotees of a particular faith are told that they are looked upon with special favor by God. Or, in Eastern religions, by a guru who is considered to be God in human form.
I've both seen this in other people, and also in myself.
For example, when I used to give spiritual talks at a Sunday meeting of fellow believers, and I was late leaving for the place where the meeting was held, if I found that all of the traffic lights were green when I came to the intersections between my house and the meeting location, I'd look upon this as a sign that God was helping me be on time.
Crazy? Yes. Just like the Green family believing that God is on their side? Yes.
It took me many years, decades, really, before I came to realize that I'm nobody special, and that the universe isn't treating me any differently from everybody else.
That realization was a relief, actually. I could stop pretending and start living an authentic, honest, down to earth life.
God isn't on anybody's side, because almost certainly there is no God. (I'd leave out the "almost," but I'm scientifically minded, and in science nothing is 100% certain.)