I fear the idea of a Christian Nation. Why? Because, at no point in history, has making Christianity the Official Religion of any place, shown positive results.
Recently, a friend posted an article from The Heritage Foundation by Mark David Hall, PhD, who happens to be the Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics at George Fox University [where I received my Doctorate]. There is nothing, in and of itself impressive about either point, it just is. While they don’t change the reality of my fears concerning his voice.
The article, for me, centers a strong desire for each individual State to form their own Official Religion, and if you’re like me – the idea shake you at a core level. Here is, what I see, as the core of his argument:
“…the national government should not create an established church, and states should have them only if they encourage and assist Christianity; and religion belongs in the public square. In short, while America did not have a Christian Founding in the sense of creating a theocracy, its Founding was deeply shaped by Christian moral truths. More important, it created a regime that was hospitable to Christians, but also to practitioners of other religions.” [emphases added]
Let me pick out the buzzwords that are causing me concern:
“… states should have them only if they encourage and assist Christianity”
Whose Christianity? Who defines what is, and is not Christianity? [and “the bible” is not an answer, given that each of the approximately 41,000 different denominations claim the bible as the answer].
Here are a few What Ifs:
What if Utah decides that the Official Religion of the State is Mormonism?
What if Oregon decides on Seventh-day Adventists?
What if Pennsylvania decides on Jehovah Witnesses?
What if New York decides on the Catholic Church?
Now, I’m certain conservatives will say, “Those aren’t Christian,”
Therein we find the problem, who decides? Do we let the voters decide? What if a State has just enough Mormons, or Baptists, or Catholics for that matter, to make their understanding of Christianity the Official religion, does that mean anyone teaching something different is violating the teachings of the Official religion? Do we simply encourage open fighting among different expressions of Christianity?It seems to me, when different States hold to one form of Christianity as the right one we simply open ourselves to a feudal system of defending the right faith we must all live by.
I’m certain some will say, impossible, no one will be fighting over whose understanding of Christianity is right, or wrong. Well, if you believe that, you need to pay attention to the history of the church.
“… its Founding was deeply shaped by Christian moral truths.”
Here we have the same issues – what moral truths do you mean? The moral teachings of the early Nation said Slavery was legal, women had no right to vote, only those that owned land had rights, and so many more. So, would we bring back those moral truths?
What if California decides any one of the Progressive expressions of Christian will be their Official Religion, and they decided homosexuality does not violate moral truths? Yet, Nevada decides, any one of the Conservative expressions of Christian will be their Official Religion, and they believe homosexuality violates the moral truths of the church? Would a married couple driving from California, through Nevada, have safe passage? Could the Nevada Police arrest them traveling through their state for violating their moral laws?
“… it created a regime that was hospitable to Christians, but also to practitioners of other religions.”
How can an Official State Religion accommodate those with a different point of view? Once a State makes any faith an Official Religion, all other religions must fall to the wayside; they become other.
Once an Official Religion is established, laws will be designed to support that expression of Christianity, and by nature, reject any other expression of any other faith. When this occurs, there is no hospitality for those of opposing faiths.
The idea of any Official Religion runs counter to a free and open society; which could be the goal of those who express the desire for an Official Religion.
What seems to be upsetting those on the conservative end of the spectrum is, Christianity has entered the market place of ideas, and conservatives are still working under the failed, and hurtful, model where Christianity must be forced upon others. They have no idea how to share the teachings of Jesus without completely rethinking most of their current teachings of abuse, control, demanding, exclusive, view of a twisted faith not even close to being based on the teachings of Jesus. You see, living a life centering on the teachings of Jesus should never be forced on others, love never forces.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.