Lesson 3: Christian Nationalism

insurrectionsists senate floor prayerThe separation of church and state that historically has been a cherished principle of the USA is being severely threatened. The media pictures Church leaders laying hands on political candidates and popular pastors speaking prominently at campaign rallies. Election committees regard religious groups as critical voting blocks.

Then Pew Foundation’s recent study of religion in America reported almost 50% of our citizens think the USA should be a Christian nation. True, when you break this down, there are all sorts of ideas about what that means. However, there is no doubt a new Christian Nationalism has appeared on the scene.

Although this new movement has taken different forms, it certainty indicates a new understanding of the relationship of church and state. Let me quickly examine three of these before looking at them more thoroughly in the coming weeks.

The most obvious is the New Apostolic Reformation. This is a new kind of Pentecostalism that features supposed direct communication with God, supernatural healings, and guarantees of salvation. However, instead of preparing individuals for divine judgment, it now readies the nations. Christians are to dominate all areas of society, so Jesus finds faith when he returns. Indeed, this is seen as a necessary precondition of his return. The group identifies seven mountains Christians are to control: the financial system, the church, the government, the arts, the media, education, and entertainment.

“Dominating” means God’s people overcoming Satan’s agents in a cosmic war between good and evil. The scary part is the movement identifies Satan’s agents who must be removed and does not dismiss using violence to do this.

We are presently looking at a movement rather than an institution. Several public figures have presented themselves as present day apostles and prophets whom God has entrusted with this message. They have exerted tremendous influence on all sorts of groups, such as when we saw insurgents stopping to pray after running through the capitol seeking Nancy Pelosi.

A second form are the Evangelical churches that began seeking political power in the 196os. They, too, believe we are engaged in a cosmic battle in which the growing secular society is attempting to destroy Christian culture, specifically by permitting abortion and gay rights. Christians must defend themselves by taking over public offices and enacting laws supporting Christian values. They laid out an agenda that began with getting elected to school boards. We can see they were very successful in the battles taking place about what public schools are to teach and books that are be removed from their libraries. It is also evident that they have been able to mobilize their people as polls show a large percentage vote for republican candidates that their leaders endorse.

The third form are the Roman Catholics who want to return to the anti-modernist positions of pre-Vatican 2. We often forget in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Vatican opposed democratic movements. John Kennedy got elected promising his religion would not affect his political decisions, and many of us thought Vatican 2 somewhat endorsed this kind of thinking. Now, conservatives are reacting by calling for a Christiaan culture that many of us associate with the Middle Ages. This group promised to cooperate with the Evangelicals in political action to enact Christians laws in the 2009 Manhattan Declaration

This kind of Christian Nationalism has really challenged the First Amendment that prohibits the establishment of any religion while allowing all to practice freely. But sadly, it has also divided the Church as all denominations find themselves engaged in conflicts between conservatives and liberals fighting over these issues.

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