The New Apostolic Reformation, an evangelical group connected with Texas governor Rick Perry (who, coincidentally, is rumored to be planning a bid for the White House), has launched a campaign called 40 Days of Light over DC, referred to as DC40 for short. In this campaign, they promise to “lay spiritual siege” to our nation’s capital, renaming it the “District of Christ.” This is disturbing at best, even without the possibility of Perry as a presidential candidate.
There’s been a reaction from certain highly visible members of the Pagan community, calling for counter measures, the elevation of George Washington and other national heroes to hero-cult status, and perhaps most offensively, the veneration of Columbia as a national patron goddess.
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but having Cherokee roots myself, Columbia’s certainly not a patron goddess who’s blessed my family. (Trail of Tears, anyone?) The Columbia mythos is caught up in the ideas of manifest destiny and of the divine right of the white man to subjugate the Americas and all their inhabitants. Paintings show “Columbia leading settlers west” into land previously inhabited freely by Native groups, and the poem “To His Excellency, George Washington,” which many who are advocating her worship are quoting, was written by a slave poet for whom the concept of liberty must have been a bit of painful irony.
I’m as opposed to the idea of the NAR and their DC40 event as anyone. I think it’s presumptuous to assume that such Dominionist principles are not only acceptable but healthy for a nation in which the separation of church and state has long been one of the major pillars of our government system. But you’re not going to see me lighting candles to Columbia anytime soon.