American Mythology: A Christian Nation

 

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There is this movement now to "Make America Great" again. There is this belief that somewhere, back there in America's past is a time period when we were absolutely great, that great Castle of moral rectitude, where Puritan piety held sway of the conscience of all her inhabitants, when our motives were altruistic, and our actions always matching our words, were righteous. For the faithful believer in this mythology, this time would have been after the civil war sometime, after the end of slavery, because everyone knows slavery is wrong, right? Any mention of Native American genocide is dismissed, derided, downplayed, or denied by claiming the natives were attacking settlers. No one sees the settlers, the pilgrims, as invaders and takers, right? The historical mythology only tells the story from the perspective of the persecuted Europeans fleeing their land to find religious freedom. Not once in social studies classes is it seen as a European kingdom land-grab race. If these and other evils are mentioned, they are mentioned as something America got past as she "matured". And yet, despite this maturation, the popular national evangelical language is that this is and always has been a Christian nation. Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden" looms large as an indistinguishable shadow, the odor of Calvin's doctrine of diving sovereignty in predestination and election can be smelled within the national doctrine of manifest destiny, only discussed now in academic and pseudo-academic (armchair academic) circles. The language that encapsulates these heresies today is the well-crafted mythology that this is and always has been a Christian nation in is its logos, ethos, and pathos.

That this has never been, was not intended to be, nor is it now a Christian nation has been documented by at least 4 different news sources: The Northwest religious Liberty Association, The Huffington Post, addictinginfo.org, and CNN.org. The Northwest religious Liberty Association quotes president John Tyler as saying:

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"The United States has adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent—that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgment. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgment of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political institutions…. The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid…. and the Aegis of the government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.” (http://nrla.com/revisiting-the-intentions-of-the-constitutional-founders/)

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Shortly before his death, James Madison penned:

“The simple question to be decided, is whether a support of the best and purest religion, the Christian Religion itself, ought not, so far at least as pecuniary means are involved, to be provided for by the Government, rather than be left to the voluntary provisions of those who profess it.” Madison’s rhetorical question had a quick and decisive answer: “On this question, experience will be an admitted umpire…. In the papal system, Government & Religion are in a manner consolidated; & that is found to be the worst of Governments.” Madison argued that this was because history had proven that such a system had neither been favorable “to Religion or to government.” (Ibid)

 President George Washington

President George Washington

In an article on addictinginfo.org, "35 Founding Father Quotes Conservative Christians Will Hate", there is a list of, guess what...

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”

~Founding Father George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

 President Thomas Jefferson

President Thomas Jefferson

“The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”

~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by Founding Father John Adams

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

~Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”

~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

“God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”

~Founding Father Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

 Isaac Backus

Isaac Backus

(http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/)

This nation was never intended to be a Christian nation. If it were, Christianity would be legislated into the constitution, and we would be a theocracy similar to Saudi Arabia and Iran. That we are not is evidence of the founders' intent.

 President Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The New York Times article, "A Christian Nation? Since When?", writer Kevin Krause says the following:

"Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity." (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/opinion/sunday/a-christian-nation-since-when.html?_r=0)

 The bread and soup lines of the Great Depression.  

The bread and soup lines of the Great Depression.  

The Great Depression hurt our grandparents' generation tremendously. There was no work...none. This type of poverty was unexpected in such a capitalistic driven society. The Stock Market crash had revealed the greed of capitalistic businessmen. Roosevelt's socialist New Deal was a threat to their monetary and resource hegemony, as well as their ability to lobby in politics. Their solution to this threat was is as follows:

 Pastor Billy Graham, one of the early 20th century prosperity preachers for capitalism. 

Pastor Billy Graham, one of the early 20th century prosperity preachers for capitalism. 

"...throughout the 1930s and ’40s, corporate leaders marketed a new ideology that combined elements of Christianity with an anti-federal libertarianism. Powerful business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers led the way, promoting this ideology’s appeal in conferences and P.R. campaigns...In a shrewd decision, these executives made clergymen their spokesmen. As Sun Oil’s J. Howard Pew noted, polls proved that ministers could mold public opinion more than any other profession. And so these businessmen worked to recruit clergy through private meetings and public appeals. Many answered the call, but three deserve special attention...(They are) Rev. James W. Fifield — known as “the 13th Apostle of Big Business” and “Saint Paul of the Prosperous” — emerged as an early evangelist for the cause...,the Rev. Abraham Vereide advanced the Christian libertarian cause with a national network of prayer groups...In 1942, Mr. Vereide’s influence spread to Washington. He persuaded the House and Senate to start weekly prayer meetings “in order that we might be a God-directed and God-controlled nation”..., (and) The most important clergyman for Christian libertarianism, though, was the Rev. Billy Graham. In his initial ministry, in the early 1950s, Mr. Graham supported corporate interests so zealously that a London paper called him “the Big Business evangelist.” (Ibid)

 

I will not bore you with more quotes. One can go to the New York Times and read the article. Why do I demonstrate my point this way? Because: there have always been Christians in this nation, but this nation as a political entity has not claimed to be Christian until big business needs to make money. Then, the Christian church's pulpit princes led millions of people in the baptism of the nation as Christian, and of Christianity as equal to nationhood. FYI, this method of businessmen using Christianity and the Bible to exploit people was used by Europeans to subdue the natives, to enslave Africans and their American born descendants, and to keep women from voting until the 1920s. The 1930s was big business enslaving all of American to capitalism in the name of Christ.

 

Here is the point: Integration, the mutual appreciation for the differentiation of believers culturally, ethnically (racially), nationally, gender-wise, generationally, and class-wise within the body of Christ is not only suggested and promised, it is mandated and commanded. Thus, when you baptize a nation as Christian, people have a right to expect the nation to function based on Christian morals and ethics, to integrate and empower heterogenous groups with equality and equity, to allow the differentiation to empower the whole, with all having the privilege of access, and being appreciated. This has been the expectation since the 1930's, and this nation has been reticent to do so, because inherent in any political entity is the realization of its incapability to do so. Give the NT mandate to true integration, and this country’s history of genocide, slavery, misogyny, and class warfare against the poor, it is evident that it is not, was not, nor had any intention or ability of being anything genuinely Christian...and it never can be.

 

 

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