Monday, February 04, 2008

A Christian nation?

Ran across this guest commentary on the Episcopal Life Website over the weekend and found it very interesting:

How would Jesus vote?

Here's an excerpt:

[T]he Christian character of the United States is comparable to the "Christian character" of the Roman Empire following Constantine, or the "Christian character" of the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century. Christian trappings abound, but if one compares the Christian dimensions of the two empires with the teachings of Jesus, the differences are stunning.

Jesus counseled peace; empires practice violence. Jesus counseled humility; empires ruthlessly pursue power. Jesus counseled concern for the poor; empires exalt the rich. Jesus counseled modesty; empires embrace extravagance. Jesus counseled forgiveness and love for one's enemies; empires seek vengeance.

Like those ancient empires, America abounds in Christian trappings. Still, the United States as an empire embraces virtually all the values that have been common to empires for centuries on end: peace through violence, the rich over the poor, power over humility. …

If America were really a Christian nation, and if Christians were faithful to the mandates of Jesus, [they] would demand from [candidates] answers to where they stand on questions of war and peace, wealth and poverty, and domestic and world hunger.

The entire essay is impressive, read it if you have time.

And, what think? Is America a Christian nation?

If you're in a Super Tuesday state,
be sure to vote tomorrow!

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 2/04/2008 10:49:00 AM, Blogger -mt said...

What does it mean to be a "Christian nation?" Is it any different from being an Islamist or Jewish or Hindu nation? When we state the name of a religion do we mean to include all its trappings such as church institutions, "commandments" or laws and the apparatus to enforce them? Does it mean that the "nation" uses a common "book" for its guide to doctrine and morals?

All of the above seems very limiting to me. If the question means: what are the values to which a nation subscribes, then the highest ideals of ALL of them would be included: such as respect for life, freedom of thought and expression, compassion, generosity, and the like. All of which, in the end, are really human values, the things that experience has shown work best to promote the progress and well being of the race.

But as soon as those values are tied up in the belief of some kind of deity, some kind of non-human authority, everything falls into confusion, rivalry, antagonism and a general reversal of those values. I'd rather a nation be "humanitarian" rather than religious in any sense. The Founders of the United States had the right idea for the most part. They extracted the best human values from religions and codified them as distinct from any "brand."

Unfortunately, many Christians have construed the few passing semi-theological allusions in the Declaration, Constitution and currency to assert that America was intended to be a nation that holds to the existence and authority of a supreme being who has anointed a church and its ministers to carry out its will. When such theocrats gain office (ahem) they can commit all sorts of atrocities because they have god on their side.

Let's get back to the original intent that there be SEPARATION on every level and in every way between the conduct of government and religious theories. We can be good without god.

At 2/04/2008 11:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Let's get back to the original intent that there be SEPARATION on every level and in every way between the conduct of government and religious theories. We can be good without god."

A common belief. Ain't true. This is the kind of nonsense that atheists spout all the time, esp. when they blame religions for all the ills of mankind.

If it were true, there would have been no need for Moses to establish the 10 Commandments, or for Jesus to have established the kingdom of Good. In fact, if it were true, there would be no need for any laws at all, no government at all: STOP signs and traffic lights unnecessary.

At 2/07/2008 01:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this person was referring to the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. Our country started because England was trying to force the king's brand of religion down everybody else's throat. I think the framers were understandably concerned about keeping their new nation free of such abuses.

I don't think you can be good without God, because I don't think you can't *exist* without God -- but I think it's entirely possible to be good without *believing* in God or acknowledging the involvement of God in your life. I've met very few Christians who conduct themselves in a more ethical, principled, kind, loving, gentle, and -- dare I say it? -- Christian manner than my friend Bob, who is a self-described atheist.


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