We’ve all heard of grade inflation. Getting an “A” no longer means much when professors begin to hand out top marks indiscriminately, to mediocre students.
The theory of inflation applies to religious vocabulary, as well. When every campaign speech ends with the stock phrase, “God Bless
But the admonition to not take God’s name in vain isn’t just intended to prevent over-use. It’s also supposed to stop mis-use. When politicians profess their Christian commitment at every whistle stop, the language of reverence and prayer, which ought to turn our minds toward the transcendent, becomes just another gimmick for gathering votes. This isn’t like inflation. It’s more like counterfeiting, dealing in false currency.
Maybe that’s why the Founders rarely spoke of their religion on the political rostrum. They didn’t want to pander, or use sacred words and deeds to attain profane ends.
George Washington, for example, during his first term as President, was scolded from the pulpit of