Next time you hear someone, anyone, assert that America is or should be a “Christian Nation,” I offer these thoughts and questions for consideration.
Let’s Imagine a Christian Country
Our Moment, Our Time
Think of the moment we’re in: People claiming to be Christian are running the country from the Executive Mansion to Congress to legislatures and courts across the land. Millions of others, who tell us they are the “true Christians,” proclaim that many current leaders are, in reality, fake Christians or at least “they are not following the way of Jesus.”
Believers in Christ come in many forms, from Fundamentalist to Progressive, Conservative to Liberal, Mainstream to Fringe, so we may find it hard to generalize given such a wide and wild spectrum. We’re often left wondering who are the Real Christians.
Which believers do we believe? Who can we trust to be the real, true, authentic Christians?
Christian Nationalism isn’t always subtle or hidden. We see counties creating “sanctuaries” for guns, often in the name of God (“a God-given right!”). Cities defy the Constitution, enacting and enforcing their “Christian heritage” with such things as “In God We Trust” on police cars or on the walls of classrooms or courtrooms, placing Christmas displays or crosses on public land. Others call for state lines to be re-drawn so they can get away from the “Liberals trying to take our guns, values, faith away!” “Secularism is coming! Secularism is coming!” they cry (echoed by the Attorney General). As they see it, faith itself is “under attack.”
I would offer two responses: first, that we don’t have to believe or trust any of them. If we’ve read The Story as presented in biblical scripture, we can make up our own minds who is or isn’t aligning their lives (not just beliefs but actions) with the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. And second, that most all of this agitation is based on and fueled by fear. Simple as that.
Why is it that so often faith and fear seem to go hand in hand?
What Kind of Country Do They Pray For?
Be that as it may, a recurring question I’ve had is: What do these people truly wish/pray for? That is, what kind of country do they imagine? What is their understanding of “heaven on earth”?
If the Christian Nationalists are honest about what they seek, here’s what the answer to their ultimate prayer might look like:
1-Christian leadership at all levels of society (only approved Christians can run and be elected to public office)
2-All secular-based legislation replaced by “Biblical laws” (New Testament-centered, though selected Hebrew laws such as capital punishment are enforced)
3-No separation of Church and State (and the wall comes a-tumblin’ down)
4-Daily prayers and Bible reading in schools
5-Bible-based rather than science-based classes are authorized
6-No government funding of any organization or program that is not specifically Christian
7-Christian businesses, owned and operated by Christians, are free to choose which customers they serve or refuse to serve.
8-Medical facilities employ Christian doctors who may choose to pray over patients in lieu of medical procedures or drugs
9-Parents freely choose whether to vaccinate their children, though vaccination is discouraged
10-All abortions are outlawed
11-Contraception is frowned upon
12-No persons calling themselves “LGBTQ” are allowed to be citizens or have “rights”; same-sex relationships and marriage are outlawed
13-Women are not allowed in leadership and must adhere to “biblical norms”
14-Travel to and from non-Christian countries is banned or strictly regulated
15-There are no regulations for gun ownership
16-Only Christian programming allowed on television
17-Only films with Christian content can be shown in public
18-The internet is strictly monitored for Christian-themed content
19-Police officers and military members are Christian, defending each jurisdiction and the nation in the name and with the authority of God
20-Any International Aid is determined solely by missionaries to those countries
21-“In Jesus We Trust” is the national motto
22-The Pledge of Allegiance emphasizes “One nation under (Our God) Jesus”
23-The National Anthem is transformed into a praise song
24-All judges including especially Supreme Court judges are Christian, swearing an oath to Jesus as the final Judge over all
25-The founding documents consist of: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Almighty God, and a Constitution for Christ written with biblical principles
26-Finally, the USA becomes the United States of Christians or Christland
Now, exactly Who will direct and manage all these public spheres (pastors? evangelists? Bible teachers?). Who will monitor and censor the content of information flow? And the fundamental question: Who speaks for Jesus? The Pope or Paula White? The National Council of Churches or the Prophets of the LDS Church? The Supreme Court or the Southern Baptist Convention?
Citizens of Another World?
Of course, there’s also the alternative view of this. Vast numbers of Christians are not really interested in or even believe in a “heaven on earth.” They are primarily concerned with keeping their eyes on Heaven itself. Many actually look forward to the “end of time” and the judgment day when “this earth shall pass away” and believers—true believers—will fly off to live forever with Jesus in the kingdom in the sky.
In some ways, these folks are the most dangerous. Why should they care about the poor, injustice, nature and the environment? Why should they care about education or learning to live in diverse communities? Why on earth would they cooperate with any “secular” government or believe in “religious freedom” that protects all faiths and even atheists rather than gives preference and privilege to Christians alone?
Nuclear war? Not a problem for these folks, since that is actually part of God’s plan, just like all wars, diseases and natural destruction—this is all good for people who believe this world is only a stepping stone, a welcome mat on which to wipe their feet on the way to paradise.
How Did the Founders Fail?
Those who pray for a nation all their own ought to explain how the Founders of the American Republic failed. They need to explain in detail what the American Fathers got wrong, what they left out of their Declaration and Constitution. We can suppose they would point to several major flaws in the founding documents:
-A Declaration of Independence that refers to “Nature’s God,” claims that truths are “self-evident” rather than revealed, refers to a deity as “Supreme Judge” and “Providence” rather than Jesus Christ, and asserts their rights “in the name and by authority of the good People” rather than the name of the Christian God
-A Constitution that does not mention God and claims that “We the People … do ordain” its creation rather than God; that does not specify special privilege for faith or any religion; that has no “faith test” for public office; that forbids the “establishment” of religion or one faith over the land
Surely, if the proponents of a country ruled by one faith wish to replace the founding documents with the Bible and their own interpretations of the scriptures, they will need to either tear up the old documents or radically alter them. They will no longer be able to declare allegiance to those documents or claim they honor the original revolutionaries who would clearly not qualify for elected office in the New State.
Who Decides Who Decides?
Where do we go from here? I’m not entirely sure. If reasonable people who call themselves Christians are willing to take a serious look at the dream of a believing nation, honest enough to begin to question how that would actually work in the real world, there may exist the potential of forward progress. But if the “dreamers” have heaven in their eyes, they simply may be incapable of discussing an alternative vision, let alone cooperating to build a future together with other believers and non-believers.
We could simply take a look at predominantly “Christian” countries and see how they have done. From the Vatican (any problems with that?) to mostly Catholic nations in Latin America or Pentecostalism growing in Africa. Any model governments or societies there? How do these countries score when it comes to human rights, basic equality, treatment of the poor and rich? Does that even matter?
This leads us to dig down deeper to ask: Which Christians will rule—sitting in the seat of power—in the new heaven-on earth nation? Can Catholic Christians join with Pentecostals, Baptists with Episcopalians, Quakers with Mormons? In other words, there are hundreds of denominations that claim to be the “true Christians” so, once again, Who decides Which ones are going to make the decisions regarding governing, educating, disseminating information, entertaining and everything else?
The response may be: “Prayer.” They will pray about it. Yet, here we go again: Who is “they” who will pray? Who will hear the authentic Voice of God and then convince all the other Christians of that?
The Day Has Arrived … Now What?
Let’s imagine this has all come to be. We now have one country on the planet where Christians rule everything and everyone. The world at last has One Nation Under Jesus. How will that work? Can there be commerce between the nation of believers and other nations of non-believers? Will there be any exchange of knowledge or any learning at all about other perspectives, other cultures, other religions? Who will filter all that potentially harmful influence that could lead to doubt or loss of faith?
Then we have to ask, what happens to the millions of us who are not Christians? Conversion therapy? Imprisonment? Deportation?
This is a serious threat to a free society, is it not? One Country Under Christ would certainly reveal to the world what all the rhetoric and preaching has been leading up to. One nation holds high the holy flag—The Cross—to keep the faithful in a safe home while keeping all others out (unless of course a person converts. Then they might be allowed in, or allowed to stay). This New Nation, supplanting a democratic America, sees itself as “a light on a hill” shining to the world. Yet, that light will illumine the true nature and character of the Chosen Ones who lead the New Order.
A lot to think about isn’t it? And, that’s the point. Let’s think about this and encourage (demand?) the defenders of an imagined “Christian country” to get specific, explain their dream, how it would radically transform the America we know, and how it would actually work in the real world we have now.
We must have clear responses to these questions and concerns, and let’s hear those now, before Christian Nationalism further infiltrates and erodes the historic homeland we know as “America.”
One more thought: those who call themselves “Progressive Christians” want to change the country as well, but at least what they seem to have in mind is founded upon humanistic principles such as justice, equality, inclusiveness, diversity, lovingkindness, etc. What they suggest seems much more compatible with the original vision of a secular America welcoming to all faiths and freethinkers. This agenda seems much more reasonable, pragmatic and ethically committed than the JesusLand troops.
“Which believers do we believe? Who can we trust to be the real, true, authentic Christians?”
indeed. There would be a religious civil war between these sects in a heartbeat. We can just look at the Philadelphia bible riots to know that.
Yes, IF we could sit back and watch it, it wouldn’t be pretty.
Chris, I believe a lot of what you’re saying. You’re right on.
Hope You and Carol are well.
Good to hear, Bob. All is fine with us. Hope for you too!