"I think that in American Jesus, Graffin is describing the American psyche in a very negative way. He describes how we think we are better than everyone else simply because we are prospering more than others. In the beginning, he says 'I am blessed by nationality' just to refer to the fact that we are better than everyone else simply for being American. He also says 'I feel sorry for the Earth's population cause so few live in the USA.' This just shows our arrogance by thinking everyone is worse off than us simply because we are in a more prosperous country. When he starts describing where the 'American Jesus' is found, this just shows how much he hates the American way of thinking by comparing our psyche to all such things as nuclear bombs, expressions on starving children's faces, etc. By using the name Jesus, he is describing how we are stuck up to the point that we think we are the sons of God. So yea, that's what I was thinking, please comment."
"I think the American Jesus is like corporations in America. It's like the system that we all put our faith in. When he says 'See him on the interstate.' I think he's talking about like billboards and advertisements for companies and shit. You know what I mean."
"What if the American Jesus was refering to the president? That's something to think about..."
"I think that it is a possibility that American Jesus is about the president. On the Bad Religion Tested live album before they begin the song Greg says 'Heres a tune from across the pond'. Now I'm not too sure because I am from Australia but couldn't he be referring to The White House?"
"I don't think it's just about the American government or American corporations, it's both and more. It's all of America's dark sides...all the way down to 'the kids with no moms.'"
"This isn't an interpretation but rather a clarification. When Greg says that this is a song from across the pond on the 'Tested' album, he is saying that because he is in Europe. The 'pond' is the Atlantic Ocean. The venues for all the songs are on the liner notes. As for the song, I think that it is about how America has taken on the role of a 'pseudo-god' to the rest of the world. It tells about how 'we enforce our popularity' and how we are 'overwhelming millions everyday'. This mentality makes Americans think that they are infallible; 'he's the force the army wields; power of the man, the fuel that drives the klan, etc'. The end of the song shows how powerful the mentality of the American Jesus is when after all the negative stuff Greg has said about it he is still 'fearful that he's inside me.'"
"I think with lines like 'the fuel that drives the klan' he's giving a middle finger to Anglo-Americans thinking that they are still on top when more and more African Americans are influencing the youth culture a.k.a. the 'wiggers.' If you want to relate anything to me personally, I can be reached at email@example.com"
"I believe this song is not about the government but about corporate America. The line 'He helped to build the presidents estate' made me think this more than any other line in the song. Call it a donation or a bribe, but the money given to politicians by corporations and businessmen is what controls what happens in our country. I also believe that American Jesus refers to the way Americans think, like the other posts. The way that we think that other peoples welfare is our responsibility, and we end up hurting people while trying to help them."
"I see the American Jesus as person in this song, which I believe is half of the point. He looks like a pairing of uncle sam and big brother to me. A powerful uber-figure capable of commanding armies, all branches of government, what we see on television, our mentalities."
"'I don't need to be a global citizen, because I'm blessed by nationality.' Read or listen to as many presidential speeches as you can find, especially during/after wartime. We always enter wars because 'God is on our side.' Listen to what George Bush said after the cold war ended. 'By the grace of God, America has won the cold war.' One nation, under god. As Americans, we're so sure that we're behind some holy cause. 'We enforce our popularity' American culture has bastardized all sorts of other countries. I hate when I see Japanese television, and they're so obsessed with American culture. Also, so many Europeans speak English as a second language, because it's the new standard. But most Americans don't care about speaking a European language. 'There are things that pull us under/things that drag us down' Things like homelessness, overpopulation, unemployment, uneducated masses, destroyed environment. These things make us ashamed to be Americans. 'But there's a power and a vital presence/it's lurking all around.' America, the all powerful, the all seeing. The world police, the ultimate big brother figure. 'I feel sorry for the earth's population/so few live in the USA.' It's like when hardcore Christians feel sorry for all of the Jews and Muslims who are going to burn in hell, the average American feels sorry for the other countries because they're not blessed with being Americans. Most of the second verse deals with other society's conformity America's infectious so-called-culture. 'At least the foreigners can copy our morality,' and put up more McDonalds in their country. 'They can visit but they cannot stay.' What happened to 'give us your tired, your weak, your poor, etc'? Immigration laws. Because if they weren't born here, uncle Sam says they don't deserve to stay here. 'We've got a place to go when we die, and the architect resides right here.' Because being an American is a free ticket - you pass go, you collect 200 dollars, and you go to heaven. Because being an American, means being holy. The last verse with the 'in god we trust because he's one of us, break down, cave in, we can redeem your sins' is the musical climax, and the main lyrics just go to describe everything that is America. 'the barren fields, the force the army wields, the nuclear bombs, etc'. It's America to the t. The 'I'm fearful he's inside of me' is the worry we all have - am I just another stupid American? Am I going to grow up to embrace the American way? 'In god we trust, because he's one of us.' Mocking what's written on our legal tender, it's implied that god is looking out for America, and no one else. The best line in the song, however, is the 'You lose, we win, he is our champion'. It totally sums up the feelings of the average American. I'm American, I'm going to heaven. You're not American, you are doomed to eternal damnation. Don't you know that Jesus is an American?"
"Well, I believe that the song is talking about using the spread of Christianity as justification to enforce whatever standards anyone can on anyone else. The army, the KKK, and just the American way of life in general. This idea of mine that our nation is fueled by Christian values would also be consistent with other bad religion songs such as 'The Voice of God is Government.' I'd also like to say that this is just about my favorite Bad Religion song and that is my interpretation of it, but what does a drunk like me know?"
"This song is about people using me as a whore to try to give there point of view some validity which pisses me off. (yes even Jesus gets a little pissed now and then) It all stated with the bible and it's just gotten out of hand since then. So I will try and clear things up. Religions, cults, churches, institutions,etc... are wrong. We are ALL one mind, body,and spirit. The meaning of life is love and when you all realize that you will find heaven but until then keep listening to Bad Religion. There new album is do out febuary 2002 and brett's back!"
"Hey Matt Savvy: great interpretation! Along the same lines: I think the idea of selling America by using the goodness that is supposed to be GOD-JESUS. If Jesus likes it, it must be good! (matt, love to chat firstname.lastname@example.org)"
"Matt Savvy pretty much nailed this song on the head. On a current note, if you want to see the 'American Jesus' in action, go to a sports stadium and listen to everybody sing 'God Bless America.' Listen to one of George Bush's speeches. They thunder the message that whatever actions we may choose to undertake will be justified because 'god is on our side.' News flash: the people who destroyed the World Trade Center thought the exact same thing. By failing to respond from a position of rationality, we are undermining the moral authority which we had as innocent victims of evil. By couching our response in the terms of Jihad, we invite Jihad against us. It is the idea that we have to fight, more than the impoverished people of third world Afghanistan. Our attempt at moral justification has been thrown back in our face. He may be 'one of us,' but this time the American Jesus has bitten back."
"This song is all about how close-minded American are. Do you understand the middle eastern crisis? No? I have proven my point? Do you understand the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border? No? I have once again proven my point."
"I think they're mocking how people have a state of mind that by living in the USA they think there better off and pretty much just way better tan most other people. They (the people in the USA) use Christianity as an excuse for everything, to explain everything, to blame everything on.. 'In God we trust' ......"
"To help you debate on this: http://religioustolerance.org/atheist.htm. The quote says: George H.W. Bush, as Presidential Nominee for the Republican party; 1987-AUG-27: 'No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.'"
"In contrast with what Greg says in the song, I feel sorry for anyone who lives in America. Its seems to me that the inflated American egos, the lack of history, the hundreds of TV channels, the multi-million dollar corporations and the American pride, the digital boys living on the forefront of technology (and in their own distorted reality), McDonalds, Disney and Hollywood, and the hate that America stirs in the minds of terrorists are the scariest things on this planet; more scary even than the substantial damage America does with its military might to the developing world and its cultural 'infiltration' of other developed countries. Its obviously not all bad (maybe I'm being a bit harsh), but how can it be anything but overwhelming for anyone who lives in America: I'm not surprised at the number of religious cults, obese people, venture capitalists, country dwellers who think that there is nothing but America, and UFO sightings because the American Government has most of its people nicely domesticated, and from the other side of the pond it just looks like the biggest fiasco in human history. No joke. It must take incredible strength of character and a strong sense of individuality to not be eaten into by the 'American Jesus' syndrome that Greg Graffin is criticizing. As for me, I wouldn't visit if you paid me, (though I might be swayed by a free ticket to go see Bad Religion :))."
"Especially after 9/11 this song is more up-to-date than ever. You want to know why all this happened? Listen to this song! That's the way it goes: You can't play god without being punished for that."
"This song refers to the people of the US being nationalist. It Means our country is better than yours because we have a good god. Greg is trying to say that if God and Jesus are really there and almighty, they would get rid of all this madness and killing and fighting. In the music video it show people with blind folds saying 'One nation under god'. This means that the American people follow this country and religion blindly and don't realize all the bad shit that goes down."
"Ok I think I can help as I'm from Britain so I can put a foreign perspective on this. The American Jesus, to me, refers to The United States justification for its foreign policies a belief like Jesus that whatever actions the US takes its automatically right. So in the bits like 'I don't need to be a global citizen, 'cause I'm blessed with nationality' means basically to me 'I don't need to live in the world cos I'm a American'. He goes on to talk about how The US dominates the world and compares it almost to religious fanatism with lines like 'we enforce our popularity' now this is going to sound offensive to you guys , so I'm sorry that's exactly how the US acts abroad it gets involved so that it gets something out from cheap oil in Kuwait or being able to sell big macs in Moscow or whatever, don't be ashamed the UK went to war with china in the 19th century so it sell them all opium and it went to war in south Africa for diamonds so we're just as bad. I think basically what I'm trying to say is the song is trying to say how US patriotism is similar to religious fanatism because the US seems to acts like its got this invisible force that makes everything right 'the force the army wields'. on a side note the pond Greg refers to is the Atlantic and he was playing in Britain as we call the Atlantic the pond out of fondness for our American brothers as we are brothers really in our culture and actions"
"I've heard this before, but can't pick out where in the song Eddie Vedder is doing back-up vocals. Anyone know more specifically? I at first thought it was Vedder on 'Watch it Die' and 'Struck a Nerve', but I could never figure out which part he sings in AJ. This is just obsessive nitpicking, but can anyone help me here? I can be emailed at email@example.com"
"I've always felt this song compares American nationalism to the blind faith exhibited by your average zealous Christian (hence the linking of American and Jesus in the title). As many people blindly follow the words of the Christian leaders without question, the person portrayed in the song believes without any factual evidence to support his claim that he is among the elite merely because he was born in a certain nation. It is about the Christian theocracy that we live in, having it shoved in our face as 'democracy.'"
"spunky: that is definitely not the point. who is punishing America? god? I doubt that is what Brett is alluding to and I doubt that is what happened... vlodovitch: I think you have a very distorted view of America. I hate Americans as much as other non-American people tend to, but I can still realize that a few bone-heads and stupid presidents don't spoil the whole lot. America is a great country (not the best, but it is nothing less than great). America is great the way Europe and Asia are great. however it does have its arrogance too. I would encourage you to actually see what the usa is like... and since when are venture capitalists so evil? ufo sightings are being controlled by the gov't? my own personal opinion is that this song is about the belief in a saviour for the American people. the fuse this with their belief in a country. Bush is ignorant enough to say that god is on his side because he is the gov't (by saying that declaring war on extremist is moral etc.) this song is about 'Jesus', and don't you know it? - he's American! He outlines how, to be American is considered to be being godly - America is the best/perfect (I'm blessed by nationality...etc etc). in the climactic chorus he speaks of the elements of the American Jesus: barren fields = mud that provides nothing, or FRUITLESSNESS force of armies = guns and control VIOLENCE expression starving = bewilderment, abandonment DESPAIR power of man/fuel-clan = usually would refer to persuasion (the president is powerful because he convinced enough people to vote for him PERSUASION motive of murderer = usually the conscience is seared... HATE preacher on TV = image of the money mongers... DECEPTION false sincerity = same thing INSINCERITY form by computer = ?? I'm guessing technology TECHNOLOGY nuclear bombs = violence and a bigger level DEVASTATION/DESTRUCTION kids with no moms = broken homes? baby w/o mother... TRAGEDY These are what makes up the American Jesus: FRUITLESSNESS, VIOLENCE, DESPAIR, PERSUASION, HATE, DECEPTION, INSINCERITY, TECHNOLOGY, DESTRUCTION, TRAGEDY this is open I guess to anybody's interpretation (unless of course Greg Graffin would like to post a little message correcting all of us...) but i would like to think that he is saying this: the American Jesus and all of his elements is the mental disease that plagues all who adopt its mentality. when you become the American Jesus you deceive, destroy, infest, etc. he is fearful of become apart of this religion because it is all around him... why should he doubt America (which represents Christianity to a great deal... America is often blamed for sticking their guns into other country's wars and playing universal cop much to the same way the crusaders took it upon themselves to rid the world of all of the evil pagans) because American is seemingly so strong and domineering... the solution, or antidote to this sickness is the opposites of the AJ elements: a few of the being listed are sincerity, tolerance, consideracy... (and all of the opposites of the negative elements listed before would be present with the antidote). however, one last point is that, this American Jesus is the the same disease that the extremist in the middle east have, except their disease is the Afghanistan Jesus or what have you... they kill in the name of god and they are guilty of all of the things the American Jesus has done. thank you... any further insight to this interpretation would be highly appreciated. SR, 19 Winnipeg, MB, CANADA... ps this song is one of my favorites of all time too! this band ROCKS! I think matt savvy is right on the mark too!"
"In response to whoever pointed the 'He helped build the president's estate' finger towards donation money. Look at the fact that the white house was built by black slaves. So if American Jesus is our evil side, and slavery is obviously evil, it seems to coincide. That's my take on it."
"This song is most likely about money. He starts out by discussing how lucky he is to live in America, because we're blessed with wealth beyond that of most other countries. Money is the 'American Jesus.' Americans worship it and live their lives by it. He sarcastically comments on how superior we are because of the money we have, and how it drives everything in America."
"I think a lot of people are getting way too caught up in the White House reference. To me, this song is all about how Jesus has just become a method of capitalism. It seems like Graffin is mocking that if Jesus is all great, then why does he have to advertise and why do people have to constantly pay respect to him. Also, I believe that he is satirizing the belief that Jesus is everywhere. The last part of the song where Greg talks about how he's in the murderer, etc. really nails this for me. It says that if Jesus is so great, than why is he the justification for all of this negativity."
"The 'American Jesus' in the song is patriotism. Duh."
"To me this song was about how Americans who are religious act now. I mean we say America was founded n religion and we have all these morals and are so much better than everyone else in the world. And when it goes on in the songs it just talks about all the things we Americans do and what happens in America now. Murders and single parents and racism, would Jesus who all these Americans claim to follow let this stuff happen? No. But Americans do and we still think we are better than everyone. That my friends, is the American Jesus."
"I think that this song is about the American mindset. not just the government and the corporations and organized religion but the way we think of America, beyond the beauty of this nation and our awesome power and force but the dark side of all that. 'the farmer in barren field.' the hardworking man who is screwed everyday of his life by the upper-class. 'the force the army wields.' the militant killing machine we call an army. 'the expressions on the faces of the starving children.' the often overlooked poor and dying on American streets. and so on and so on, i think this song in analyzing the dark side of the 'American way'."
"I think he is talking about how people make excuses for their actions by hiding behind God or their religion. 'the force the army wields, he's the fuel that drives the clan'"
"we all suck. we as a nation may not suck...but our politics suck big time. fucking other countries all over the world. Poor countries that we are not helping out, and they need lots of help (like chile, where bad religion went las year) third world country...lets change our way of thinking. thats punk-ska-hardcore-reggae music made for.....LEGALIZE GANJA. keep surfing !"