I’m in the process of learning the alto part to The Battle Hymn of the Republic. One down side to singing in a choir is you sometimes have to sing words that you would never say. (When I sing on my own, that is a factor in the songs I choose to sing). For the Battle Hymn of the Republic, that line is:
“As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.”
Well, it is named “Battle Hymn,” so I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s trying to make warfare an act of worship.
Before that, though, it strikes me as audacious in the first place to equate ourselves with Christ. On the one hand, Christians are supposed to emulate Christ (or so I’ve always interpreted the purpose of Christianity). But this seems to have crossed the line from emulating to putting ourselves on the same level. It even seems like we’re trying to do Christ one better:
“Let’s sacrifice ourselves like Christ, except take out a bunch of people as we’re doing it.”
And the reason this strikes me so strongly is that for 12 years I’ve been hearing Americans claim that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that Muslims all want to be martyrs, while implying that you wouldn’t catch Christians doing or saying that kind of thing.
Wikipedia: In the years since the Civil War, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” has been used frequently as an American patriotic song. This song is usually heard at the national conventions of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party, and is often sung at Presidential inaugurations.