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The Christian Nation and the Married Bachelor

by on November 7, 2011

The lives of the Founding Fathers is of extreme interest to many people..as they should be. The intellectual powerhouse of some of these figures is absolutely astonishing. The contested issue that continually arises is that of the religious beliefs of these figures. The top contenders reign from devout Christian, deist, agnostic, to a soft version of Christianity known as Unitarianism. The historical research continues…but that is not what this is about dear readers. This is about the insistence that from this historical research and our ‘heritage’ that we are in fact a ‘Christian Nation,’ and by the title of this piece, the merit I give to such a notion shall be adequately elucidated.

 

From a moderate fideistic viewpoint…the notion of a Christian nation becomes a bit problematic. If a relationship with Jesus Christ is predicated on a subjective acceptance of the teachings and divinity of Christ; how does a nation or a government or a group of people reach this place? Now, even going back to the Founders themselves- it is hard to find a real consensus on exactly what type of Christianity is paradigmatic of our nation. We had devout Christians, unitarians, deists, and those who had no real problem with faith but lambasted religion continually (ref. Thomas Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’ for a proper example). The Founders even implemented certain religious practices in government- Madison encouraging that each Senate meeting begins with prayer for example. However, what is a Christian nation exactly? It can’t be simply the based of the majority of a nation’s citizens all believing in the same thing- there are over 34,000 denominations of Christianity- many of which have diametrically opposed views on important issues. Could it be because there is the use of the word ‘Creator’ in our Declaration of Independence or because they dated their works and correspondences with ‘Year of our Lord’? This is quite silly.

In the GOP debates recently we have been hearing from the likes of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich the importance of faith in being a leader, the role that faith must play in the betterment of society. I can even still remember the roar of applause when George W. Bush told audiences how he was a ‘born again Christian’ and in response to seeking advice in Iraq from his father…replied that he had a higher father that he appealed to.  In essence, we are seeing the beginnings of legislating faith as an optimum societal necessity. However, as referenced earlier, it was this same Madison who wrote that there should be ‘no religious litmus test to hold any position in government.’ Every politician we come across these days has to profess to being a faith-holding member of this Christian nation. Polls after polls have indicated that people are more likely to vote for a Muslim, Buddhist, or a Mormon than an agnostic/atheist. Are we really living in the 16th century?

Christianity as a faith…or as more commonly described by its many devotees; Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ can’t be a national phenomenon; unless by irrelevant coincidence of such an extreme homogeneous nature. One doesn’t need to go back too far in history to find Christian nations at work. Ironically enough it was these nations that first introduced European slavery, genocide, Jewish ghettos, and many other wonderful things- showing that being a so-called Christian nation says nothing about actually following any core principles…just merely the facade of such things; just as it applies to this country.

There are many wonderful Christian people in this country, in this world in fact- but that is exactly the point…it’s individuals that can be or not be a Christian. There are no Christian nations for collective salvation does not exist…nor is there any hope for a consensus in doctrine of Christian faith.

The lives of the Founding Fathers is extremely fascinating and so is studying the history of religion…but this is for historical research and appreciation…not for legislating some illusory notion as a collective Christianity.

 

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From → Philosophy, Politics

4 Comments
  1. Interesting. I seem to recall back in the 70’s Pittsburg Pennsylvania referred to as “Steel City”. I think you can still buy a can of Steel City beer. But then wait; a city cannot produce steel, only an individual can do this.
    Come on, if a nation which celebrates the birth of Christ (National Holiday), offers its citizen the right to “secure the blessing of liberty” in one of its founding documents, and has currently 75+ percent of its citizens calling themselves Christians, is unable to call itself Christian, well there goes “The Sunshine State”.

    • Well, you have likened the ability to produce steel to a subjective devotion as explicitly stipulated in the Bible. A company/city/etc. can in fact produce steel; but can a company produce Christianity? can a company collectively become Christian? This is the point. Within a country you may find that the majority of the population is Christian which is not argued as it pertains to the US. What I am saying is that there is no such thing as a ‘Christian collective.’ Imagine the congregation at a church; local or mega-church. The members are all individuals who have subjectively accepted the Christian faith through any number of various means and have come together to share their subjective love of Christ right? They didn’t come together with a copy of some of our founding documents and realize that they must be Christian because of the nation they live in. This is exactly the notion of Christianity that Soren Kierkeggaard battles when writing about Denmark with one’s birth certificate more/less serving as one’s baptismal certificate.
      Our laws don’t really reflect the teachings of Christ (about 20% I believe), our actions are not necessarily ‘Christ-like.’ Now in the Middle Ages through the Enlightenement we had ‘Christian nations’ that involved a state church, etc.- those would be examples of the facade of claiming to have a Christian nation. Just as with a flag it is merely a symbol to gather the masses into some sort of collective understanding. There is nothing Christian about it. The stories of the Bible- take Abraham, Moses, Job, Joseph, and on and on- these stories are about the subjective undertakings from God, the personal/private relationships that come from living in a world while maintaining a relationship with God- not about a nation adopting a cross as its logo. It’s not about having the Ten Commandments in front of a court house as some sort of archaic tribute. It is about the individual- plain and simple. So, a company can produce a car, steel, pornography, great beer, and on and on. But a collective can’t be Christian- only the individual.

  2. Babs McG permalink

    As one born & raised in Pittsburgh, I agree that “Steel City” and “Christian Nation” are two different things entirely. I grew up with kids whose fathers worked in those steel mills until they were shut down, and that City earned its reputation by being a leader in steel production when that industry was in its prime. The fundies today like to tout the U.S as a Christian nation as a means of bullying–whenever they want to make a point, or fabricate a cause, or deny personal (and Constitutional) freedoms, they fall back on their “Christian nation” rhetoric the way a child resorts to a temper tantrum; if they shout long enough, they expect to get their way due to the sheer exhaustion it takes to argue with them. (And arguing with the uninformed & ignorant IS just so exhausting.) What they fail to understand is that America is a nation of Christian, NOT a Christian nation–which is not the same thing. There’s a difference, and it’s a huge one. But along with everything else they don’t want to understand, they ignore that fact. This country was founded by those who sought to flee England because living there meant you HAD to be of the Church of England. They had no choice. (Coincidentally, they’re now more secular than ever.) Saying the U.S. is a Christian nation borders on tyrannical. It blatantly ignores, and seems to want to deny, any other freedom we are all guaranteed as US citizens and it echoes a “conform or die” sentiment from which we sought to escape over two hundred years ago. No one but a Christian would declare America is a Christina nation, which only serves to illustrate their level of bigotry, prejudice, and fascism. (Yeah, that’s right… I’m comparing fundamental Christians to fascists.)

  3. *B* permalink

    And it’s Iron City beer… btw. ; >

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