Friday, September 16, 2011

The Myth of a Christian Nation

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Cover via Amazon"]Cover of "The Myth of a Christian Nation:...[/caption]

My apologies to Greg Boyd for borrowing the title of his book, but this is a topic that needs to be addressed, I believe. I have not read Boyd's book, so these ideas are my own. What I would like to address is this idea that The United States of America was at one time a Christian nation or even the idea that it is a Christian nation. I would like to ask for evidence to support this and also ask what makes a Christian nation.  We know that Thomas Jefferson was very clearly a Deist and that he put together his own version of the Bible with the verses he liked. We like to quote Benjamin Franklin, but it's not clear if he was even a Christian. These are our founding fathers. Sure, our country was founding on the principle that people should be free. They should be free from the oppression of religion. They should be free from the tyranny of big government. They should be free from taxes without representation as the battle cry went.

So, what happened? Was America a Christian nation? Should it be a Christian nation? Should the values of what we call Christianity be forced on all peoples who reside in the United States of America? What are we calling people back to? This is the same nation that fought over the issue of slavery and secession while soldiers and politicians on both sides both advocated for and were against the owning of human beings. Note that I said both sides. Thomas Jefferson hosted Muslim dinners in the White House and call President Obama a Muslim for doing the same thing, when every predecessor before him did the same thing. But I digress. I suppose we're really talking about the values of Christianity. What are these values?

Let me give a list of what I think the values most people are talking about when they call for us to return to a "Christian" nation:

  • Other religions are free to to worship unless it's Islam.

  • The only sin we can't tolerate is homosexuality.

  • The government should sponsor prayer, nativity displays, and other Christian acts in the public square, but God forbid any other religion from being allowed the same right.

  • If you're a Christian, you should be Republican. To be anything else means that you're a kook if you're a Libertarian or you support homosexuality and abortion if you're a Democrat.

This is a short list and for time's sake I kept it that way. If you have some more, feel free to let me know. What should our Christian values be? They should be what Jesus laid out for us in Matthew 5 and what Paul laid out in Galatians 5 with the fruits of the Spirit.  We have lost our way and focus on a me-centered Christianity. Do we not know that all sins are equal in God's eyes. We focus on homosexuality and abortion, when we openly advocate divorce, in the Church.  We lie, cheat, and steal and yet, the unforgivable sins seem to be homosexuality and abortion.  We also don't like to forgive. Take for instance the Islamic Center being built a few blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center towers and the other mosques being protested against around the country. We tell them to allow us to build churches in places like Saudi Arabia and they can build their mosques here. Isn't that hypocritical? Our Constitution guarantees them the right to worship as they please. We should be the model, not the copycat. It only shows fear and hate to single out someone because of their religion or the color of their skin or their sexual orientation. We are not being Jesus at all to them. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. Should we not be expressing the same attitude? Instead, we say, "stop doing this and I'll like you and Jesus will like you to. " Instead, we should be showing them Jesus in order for Jesus to change them.

Let's stop espousing this idea that the U.S. should be and will be a Christian nation. In reality, it never was, nor will it be. The only Christian nation is the people of God, the Church, the true Israel, comprised of people from all people groups who trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is not America.  Our laws may mostly reflect a slight Christian heritage, but most laws around the world do that. Instead, let's stop being hypocritical, and let's show them Jesus instead.