The Myth of a Christian Nation*
Before I get into what a myth is and why people are believing in myths, I want to first address something that was brought to my attention through an email from my Grandpa. He brought up the issue of defining something. And so I think it is important that I first define what a Christian is (in my mind) before I move on.
There is a song that I remember as a kid that is ringing out in my head right now, “they know we are Christians by our love by our love, they will know that we are Christians by our love” (sung in my Grandma Reeds voice). Cheesy song, but a lot of truth inside of it. Looking at Jesus what separated him the most from other great teachers and prophets was His love. Many believe that Jesus was a great teacher, that is undeniable, but where the problems start to arise is whether or not he was God in human form. To me, this is answered by the statement “God is Love” found in 1 John 4:7-8. What separates Jesus from any other teacher was His love in all things, a perfect love. That was best demonstrated by his servant leadership (great demonstration of love) and his ultimate death on the cross (the ultimate show of love). For further understanding on this go and listen to Rob Bell’s love wins sermon, amazing. To be a Christian is to love, which might be too simple of an answer. A Christian is someone who prescribes to the love of God, taking the Holy Spirit as his/her guide, and being Jesus (love) to all. I might have missed some things there for you, but I don’t have time to get into everything.
So what is this thing about America being a Christian nation all about? For the longest time Christianity for me has been associated with white people. My whole life I have been surrounded by white people. Leades, church paritioners, family, and politicians, white people have been the face of Christianity. If you don’t think this is true, go and look at most depictions of Jesus in art/media and tell me who He looks like. As well, most white people are associated with America, amazing enough we did not settle America, but the Indians were the founding fathers. And yet for some reason, America has turned into the white mans home, which means that America has believed what the white man believes, and that is Christianity. Now there are several forms of Christianity that are represented (unfortunately) but for the most part, %90 of people would say that America is a Christian nation. I was one of those people for a long time. Until I started to look for what America stood for, or at least what people see America standing for. America was founded on freedom, which is great because I might not be the man I am today if not for that fact. But for some reason, that religious freedom that America was founded on has become more of an after thought when it comes to people believing differently (more on this later). For the most part America is seen as a free country, but inside this freedom comes a whole new set of problems. These problems are what America is known for. Capitalism (which I heard from Shaun Hannity that capitilism is dead with Obama being president) pursuit of Happiness (american dream) free market, freedom of speech, all that good stuff that America is known for leads one to believe that this is what Chrsitianity is known for. People would characterize Christians and Christianity a couple ways: Hypocritical, Narrow Minded, and Egocentric.
Can you see the relationship that Christianity has with America. A place founded upon the idea that money brings happiness, that you need to look a certain way so that you can fit in, that what you believe is right and if someone disagrees with you then they are wrong. I have heard all of these messages preached in one form or another over my life time. I think we all know someone who fits into this mold, and to be honest maybe I fit into this mold, but that is not the mold that Jesus was in. If you are willing to say that America is a Christian nation then you are willing to claim the fact that we killed innocent people (Indians) for the sake of “freedom”, that we told men (African Americans) that they were not men and they were animals that work for us, and that we let the desire/greed for money and power make decisions about war and peace. These are just a couple claims (major ones) that are associated with America which in turn is Christianity. I am not free of any of this, I am sinful man who is bent on sin saved by the grace of God. But I am slow to claim America as a Christian nation. That is not the Christianity that I know, that is not the way of Jesus that I know. Never do we see Jesus associate himself with a nation or a city, actually he did the opposite. For the sake of brevity, I will stop there.
America is not a Christian nation, we have bought into the idea that if we are or can continue to be we can control and make people better. The fundamental problem with that idea is depicted in the picture of a blind man leading another blind man around a room full of chairs and expecting them to not get tripped up, funny to watch, but we know the outcome.
So what is the myth that we are believing? That America is a Christian nation, and that becuase of this Christ will use America to make people “good,” that through rules set up by America people will come to believe in God, and that if we continue to keep Christian principles and men/women in places of power to rule people will fall in line and Christ will be glorified.
I will stop there, thanks for reading. Your turn, blast me for what I said or agree with me. But make yourself heard on a very important subject.
**The myth of a Chrsitian nation was stolen from the book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd. Great book, got a lot of new thoughts out of this book. At the end of the week I will provide a work cited page for resources and places I got most of my thoughts.