"Blessed is the nation whose God is YHWH, the people he chose for his inheritance."
You might be familiar with the first half of that passage. But chances are, the second half was conveniently omitted when you heard it. Why? Because the passage specifically refers to the children of Israel...and NO ONE else. But politicians have used it down through the ages to garner support. (BTW: Anyone who knows the bible, also knows that Israel was a flop when it came to following YHWH...and so is every other country that has ever existed.)
I also have another passage for you. It's from a good Minnesota boy, Sinclair Lewis, and it goes like this; "When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross."
#1. Is America a "Christian" Country?
Biblically & theologically, the answer is obviously "NO!" No kingdom of man can ever be a christian country. Not the U.S., not Canada, not Denmark, not Nepal. These are kingdoms of men. The only "Christian" nation is the kingdom of heaven...which I should point out is not a representative democracy. And yet, down through the ages, countries have tried to claim that moniker for themselves. (And the results have been two massive black-eyes on Jesus' face.)
#2. Is America founded upon Christianity?
Well, let's take a look at what George Washington had to say about that. He once wrote a letter to the Bey (Kinda like a king) of Tripoli, that "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..." And I'm not sure how much more clear you can get than that.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli <---- Click on the link for more on that treaty.
#3. Is America founded upon "Religious Liberty?"
ABSOLUTELY!!!! But this also means that people of all faiths & denominations are, or at least Ought, to be welcome...even when I don't agree with them. This also means that people with no type of faith what-so-ever should be welcome.
So what does this have to do with why I no longer wish to be identified as a "Republican?" Well, I'll tell ya. But first, an AWESOME T-shirt that I desperately need.
<---- Doesn't that last statement just scream "Jesus" all over it?!?!?!?! (This sarcasm, from a guy who owns two guns and likes to shoot Bambi when given a chance.)
A while back, I explained why I no longer wanted to be known as a Republican due to the extremist Free-Market philosophies that current Republican leaders are embracing. You can read it by clicking the following link, if you so desire.
I love Jesus. I also love this country. Sometimes, people use the bible to bash a given country. It's easy enough to do. No country can match up to what God requires any more than humans can. Don't ever think that I am bashing America or hate it...even though I am going to say some harsh things.
I've lived and visited other countries. Make no mistake, I think what we have here is fantastic, AND offers a fairly good example to other countries as to what they can achieve with an open culture, media, economy, etc. As such, I choose to live here. (However, after having lived in the Czech Republic and sampling their beers, an argument could be made that God likes them more than us.) Still, I think I'll stick around here.
Anyway, as I said, I love Jesus. This puts me at odds with my country plenty of the time. I just don't think that a "Christian" country would have enshrined slavery in it's founding documents, slaughtered the original inhabitants in the name of "Manifest Destiny" (That's Theist-Speak for "God's Will), and allow 30 million of it's own inhabitants go without health care. I just don't see Jesus encouraging behavior like that.
WELL, I should point out that the concept of the U.S. being a Christian country has been thrown around for a long time...and by both parties. However, since the rise of the Religious Right back in the 70s, it has become almost the exclusive purview of the Republican party. (The old guard of the R.R. is slowly dying off. But their toxic thoughts are still very much around.) In fact, the American church can now be seen as being almost completely co-opted by the Republican party.
In the brilliant work by the Barna Research Group, and complied by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons into the book "Un-Christian," people under 30 are convinced that to follow Jesus means that you have to become a Republican. This is absolutely deadly to the gospel!!!
http://www.unchristian.com/ <---- Click the link for more.
Please, please, please, if you have never read that book...buy it, read it, take it to heart and share it!!!
For some reason, many, many, many christians in America now believe that you have to embrace a particular political agenda (In this case, a Republican one) to follow Jesus. After all, Republicans are the party that is Pro-Birth (Not "Pro-Life", but that's for another time) and want to deny gay people their secular civil rights in a secular nation. As we all know, this is pretty much all that Jesus spoke about during his earthly ministry.
I could be wrong, but I think that Jesus also denied the fact that there actually is global climate change that is man-made. Jesus warned his followers not to believe the N.S.A. & C.I.A. under the Bush administration, when they said climate change was a very serious problem and would be the major cause of wars in the next 50 years. After all, Jesus said that there would be wars and rumors of wars...so what else could he have been talking about?
Also, what Jesus never talked about was caring for the poor. He never talked about being a peace maker...wether it was in your personal relationships or on the international stage. He never talked about loving your neighbor OR "The least of These."
In fact, in general, I don't ever recall the bible talking about caring for the widows and orphans. Nor do I recall it ever mentioning specific injunctions about how to take care of "Aliens." If it ever did, it certainly meant "Legal" ones...or those from other planets.
No, what the bible speaks extensively about, and what Jesus spoke very specifically about when ever he spoke at the National Press Club of Jerusalem, was the need to extend tax-cuts for the wealthiest, even if it added 700 billion to the national debt...because they create jobs. (I somehow missed that one when my company announced a 3-year hiring & wage freeze a bit ago...while making sure the top managers all got their bonuses.) Jesus also said that it is very important for all women to give birth, but that after that, they were on their own because he felt that they should pull themselves up by their own boot-straps and not mooch off the system. I also believe that in 2nd Hesitations, God tells the people to ignore his instructions in Gen. 1:26-30 about being responsible caretakers of his creation. I need a concordance, but I believe the words went something like this; "For thou shall poo in your & thy neighbor's water supply with out guilt or shame, and nothing negative shall come of this joy. Verily, thou shall drill in dangerous ground & seas without a thought to the potential consequences, so thy chariot will hum and it's rims shall shineth as ye cruise. I am the Lord! Spend no time or thought on potential un-harmful alternative sources, or ye shall demonstrate a lack of faith and I shall smite thy Wii. Amen"
OK, maybe I'm having too much fun with this. But seriously, so much of what I hear coming out of the mouths of politicians...especially Republicans at the moment, is just absurd. I'm to the point that if one of them brings up Jesus, I DON'T want to vote for them. I'm so tired of it. I think that Jesus is even more weary of it. But worse than that, I am beyond being sick of so many "Christians" buying hook, line & sinker most things that political leaders say as long as it has some Jesus polish on it...all without much in the way of questioning. It would appear that when you drape the name of Jesus across some secular institution like a political party, platform or nation, it's amazing what you can get the other sheep to do.
Don't drag the gospel into politics unless you are going to embrace ALL of it...including the stuff that is unpopular. If it isn't the WHOLE gospel to the WHOLE person to the WHOLE world, then it isn't the gospel at all.
At present, the Republican party is by far the most guilty of any political party of trying to make Jesus a plank in their platform. I find it verging on prostitution, and want nothing to do with it. (The irony is that within a few years, you will see the economic wing of the Republican party toss the religious conservatives aside like old shoes in the name of political expediency. If you have been paying attention, you can even see it happening now)
Claiming that this country, or any other is "Christian," is nothing more than another form of idolatry. If you slap that label on a country...no matter how good & decent that country might be, you also attach Jesus to every mistake that country makes. (And sometimes those mistakes are massive!) The leaders who attach Jesus to their countries monikers either do so out of complete biblical ignorance, or out of lust for power. And the folks who believe & encourage it are building their foundation on some really wet sand which WILL NOT hold when the storms come.
A couple of final thoughts:
From the book "Un-Christian":
"In my book Kingdoms in Conflict, I make the case for why Christians should never have a political party. It is a huge mistake to become married to an ideology, because the greatest enemy of the gospel is ideology."
"Every time Christianity has fallen into the trap of using politics to achieve its means, it has lost its power and effectiveness."
Tri Robbins, Pastor, Vineyard Boise
"When the Christian Coalition refused to hire an executive director because he wanted global AIDS to be on their agenda, and another director resigned for similar reasons, the fate of the Religious Right was sealed." (Boy, I sure hope so)
Mark Rodgers, former staff director, Senate Republican Conference
"Evangelicalism has been hijacked and usurped by partisan political forces. Conservative religion is now being driven and dictated by secular, right-wing political forces."
Jim Wallace, Sojourners
It says "In God We Trust" on American money. It was adopted as our national motto in 1956, during the height of "McCarthyism" as a way to distinguish ourselves from the godless Soviet Union. We put that phrase right next to a Masonic "All-Seeing" eyeball. Hhmmmm.
Turns out that good old Teddy Roosevelt thought it was rather sacrilegious to have that on our money. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust But I think that Teddy might very well be wrong on this point. I think that Americans generally do trust in a god. I'm not convinced that this god is the one found in the bible, despite what some people think.
I will say this; the god that Americans tend to place their faith in and worship does have it's own hymn. And it goes like this:
"God-Money, I'll do anything for you.
God-Money, just tell me what to do.
God-Money, nail me up against the wall.
God-Money don't want everything, he wants it ALL."
Bow down before the one you serve.
You're going to get what you deserve.
P.S. So I'm guessing that I hit some serious nerves with this one. In leu of that, allow me a bit of levity to make up for rankled feathers.
You ever wonder if Jesus might be treated like the following if he showed up today? I do.
And now for a light hearted look at the way some people seem to think about God & the current President.
Last, but not least. Believe it or not, near as I can tell, President Obama is a Believer. That seems to be a shock to a whole lot of people. I don't know of too many political leaders who are fluent in the theology of Reinhold Neibuhr. At any rate, you can read his testimony here. http://www.getreligion.org/2007/06/media-ignores-obamas-personal-testimony/
I know that can absolutely stun some folks. Especially ones like the following...
Sorry, sometimes it takes a while for this video to load.
Have YOU prayed for our leaders today? The bible says that you're supposed to...and it never mentions bringing your personal politics into it.