America is a Christian nation.
Well, that’s what they say anyway. I hear it a lot. People generally say that because they want to go to war against American culture, and take the country back from the gays, immigrants, and liberals who’ve stolen it. Pastors use historical anecdotes to “prove” America rightly belongs to Jesus.
Adrian Warnock is a Christian blogger, and a Brit. It’s been really interesting to read his blog lately, as I know little about how the dandies across the pond do politics. He expresses his views on how Britain has become decidedly anti-Christian, and how that’s factoring into how he’ll vote in the next election.
American conservative Christians seem to do this every election cycle. Did you notice how this last election, everyone (on both sides) were acting like they were voting for their very lives, as if the election were a life and death decision?
It’s all got me thinking about the idea that American is a Christian nation.
America is a Christian Nation…Sort of.
Here’s the history lesson. The founding fathers were Christians…mostly. People tend to think George Washington was the Apostle Paul of America or something, but you know that’s not quite right. They were regular guys. Sure, regular guys probably went to church a lot more than guys today, but that doesn’t mean they were any more Christian.
George Washington stopped taking communion late in life. Whether this was because of a conflict of conscience, a conflict of faith, or he just didn’t like how the wafers felt on his wooden teeth is unclear. Thomas Jefferson wrote his own Bible, because he was “enlightened,” which included fathering children with slave women. Even still, as he was writing the Declaration, he required the services of Ben Franklin to “tone down” the God stuff. Apparently, Tom was a total fundie compared to Ben. Ben was a full-on enlightenment thinker, not a Christian. Then you’ve got the regular people who are Quakers, Puritans, Catholics, Anglicans, and a bunch of other things you probably don’t think are real Christianity.
Sure, the Declaration of Independence cites God as the source of man’s rights. There’s no denying there’s a lot of Christian influence in the DNA of our culture. But that’s about as much God as they put into the thing. So…yeah. Everyone in colonial America were Christians…sort of.
How Christian is Christian Enough?
I get it. America has gotten a whole lot less Christian lately. All the inner-city gang violence, drug use, “sexting,” short skirts, and massive after-prom orgies can be traced back to taking the Ten Commandments out of classrooms.
But, we give the dead Americans a whole lot more credit than they deserve. They weren’t super holy or anything. They still made illegal liquor, had duels, and went to peep shows.
Today, despite America going straight to hell, there’s still vast places in American that are saturated with Jesus! I have to ask you, how Christian does America need to be before it’s Christian enough for you? What will sate your appetite? I admit, I think it would be great if everyone agreed with me all the time, and didn’t do anything to irritate me. But it’s probably a bit unreachable to expect everyone to be perfect, just for my sake.
But really, what would it take to win America back for Jesus? How far back in time do you have to go before America is Christian enough to not offend you?
A Christian Nation Wouldn’t Be That Great
I know what you’re thinking. How could a nation with Jesus as President be bad? Just imagine the utopian existence we’d all be sharing. Everyone would be wearing WWJD bracelets, and nametags, and there would be doves everywhere and life would be just swell.
Except that if Christians were ever in charge of running the whole country, I don’t think we’d be able to decide what to do. We can’t even agree among ourselves how to run a church, much less a country.
I heard Pat Robertson a few weeks ago, in the same breath, praise America’s free-market system, and bemoan the need for censoring pornography. That’s ridiculous. You can’t have it both ways. Sure, the fact that what America spends on porn could wipe out poverty in several third-world countries is gross. But you can’t have a “free market” when the only thing on the market is Jesus, and everything else is banned. This is a man who actually ran for President in the 80s.
Look at how well having religion run the state has worked out for Iran. This week, it was announced that women who appear to be suntanned will be arrested for deviant behavior because they are causing disturbances among men and earthquakes…yes, earthquakes. I have no idea what our American tramp-stamped hoochie-mamas are causing if a little sunburn in Iran causes earthquakes.
Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot of hope for Christians running the whole nation, since the last time Christians were truly in charge of everything was the Dark Ages.
If America were really run as a Christian nation, I rather imagine it as an apocalyptic dystopia like “1984,” with Charles Stanley giving a very encouraging message on a giant screen in the middle of the city. Everywhere you go, Big Brother Jesus is watching you…on camera. At first, you resent it, and try to hide from Jesus. But eventually, you realize you love Jesus…and I just gave away the end of the book, if you haven’t read it.
What do you think? Is is the church’s job to win back the country? Or do we have more important things to do? Would it really be as great as we think if Christianity was the law of the land?