Lesson 10: Christian Nation

Christian NationalismI was about to move on to something else when some of you asked more questions about Christian Nationalism. Thankfully, it has become a hot topic as people are finding it is a greater threat than we imagined.

At the same time, Fred and Myron sent two articles that are very helpful. The first identifies the groups. The second offers arguments for and against the idea that our founders intended this to be a Christian nation. It acknowledges that they rejected any kind of established church but at the same time recognized a power higher than human government. The writer described this as a natural law based on Christian tradition.

I heard much the same argument used by a pastor from India about 50 years ago. He maintained, whether I thought so or not, people throughout the world regarded the US as a Christian nation. He suggested I did the same when I spoke of various countries as Hindu, Muslim, Communist, etc.

He felt this had nothing to do with whether our people go to church. It was more a cultural association in which they judged their actions against a background of Christian principles. One of his examples was Dr. Martin Luther King, whom he believed was able to be prophetic and change the society because he could call on the nation to observe its principles.

Christian Nationalism seems to be one reaction to the loss of cultural religion that has taken place during the last half century or so. It rejects the new global society technology has created. In the past, people lived in in a community where almost everyone identified themselves as Christian. Now television brings people from around the world into our living rooms every day. The internet makes our economy dependent on happenings on the other side of the globe. Mobility enables foreign fanatics to terrorize us in the name of their god. Like it or not, we have to recognize other world religions.

On top of that, Christian Nationalism is uncomfortable with the picture of the universe that modern science presents. It no longer supports a natural law written into the creation. Arguments based on divine providence, purpose, or judgment no longer make sense. Our way of life seems to have lost divine favor.

Of course, religion is only a symbol for all sorts of other things lost in this new society, things such as racial and gender privilege. When Christian Nationalists insist the US was founded as a Christian nation, it is more about feeling they are losing power than a call to follow the teachings of Jesus. It is more about claiming God is still on their side than ministering to the real needs of our nation.

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