Monday, September 21, 2009

the fightin' side of me

"I wonder just how long the rest of us can count on bein' free." - Merle Haggard

I just don't see how the US can be called a "Christian" nation. Can anyone help me understand that? I was raised with all the "one nation under God" stuff and the religious right and Peter Marshall and Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition. I heard it non-stop at church. I even remember when Carman's "America Again" was performed at our 10,000 member church on July 4 to thunderous applause. Now this stuff just eats at me.

Someone tell me what to do with slavery. Explain to me how getting rich off the blood and sweat of Africans can be identified with a gospel cause. Why do African-American evangelical Christians tend to distance themselves from the Christian right? And why were we singing racist hymns in our churches?

What about how we took England to war over taxes, slaughtering thousands of image-bearers? Did that reflect the love of Christ on the cross? Or did it fit the selfish ambitions of a minority (the war was opposed by an estimated 2/3 of the colonists)?

What can we say about manifest destiny and the Native Americans? What a joke. We stole. We murdered. That's what there is to say.

All this for a godly purpose? I'm less than convinced. The crusaders said the same things. I can't understand how Christianity's place as the unofficial civic religion negates all the bad.

There is little distinctly Biblical language in the founding documents of this country. Why is that if it was supposed to be an overtly Christian nation? Does it really make a difference to Christians? Where does Scripture say we should fight to be made comfortable in our culture? Where does it say that restoring Christianity as the civic religion of our country is a part of the great commission? This kingdom will fail. It's of the world, you know.

I mean this seriously. Can anyone help me reconcile all the bad things with the cross of Christ?


tonyjschroeder said...

We are a "Christian" nation because the majority of us self identify as "Christian." This has little or do with following Christian teachings and more to do with western society.

Slavery is not cool; racism is not cool. I don’t mean to diminish slavery, people allowing slavery were making big mistakes. You really can’t be more wrong; it’s on par with being a mass murderer. But people made mistakes let’s try to move past those mistakes. The Christian right in recent times has begun to identify itself with white political southern conservatism where as black evangelicals identify with left wing Democrats and socialistic ideas. In that context it makes sense. Some people are Dems and some GOP...but all Christian, at least generally. I know some UP Michigander will disagree but I am making a generalization. Essentially, you have to factor in societal norms, politics, and other things with your religion.

Racism was socially acceptable and songs were passed down from one era to another, hence the singing of racist songs. BTW singing racists songs…not the best idea.

Giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s is not necessarily wrong or right. The Boston Tea party was neither pro-Christian nor anti-Christian. It’s apples and oranges. Killing, on the other hand, and war is strictly not a Jesus-like thing to do. Oh. And yes it was self serving for the aristocratic minority that wanted a free separate state. Note: "we" did not take England to war, the founding fathers of our country did. I'm not English and my ancestors were not founding fathers. Even if they were I didn't make those decisions. The decisions I made were to live in this country now and establish myself and my family according to values I've developed in my short lifetime. I surround myself with people of similar values, morals, etc. and try to keep an open mind with people of differing views.

Native Americans got screwed. Manifest Destiny was a way to push American social structure and culture, which by its very nature means it screwed over any other ethnic/social minority by trying to either assimilate or eliminate them both culturally and physically. Again not Jesus-like. Also, in my mind Jesus-like = Christian.

May have been done "in the name of God" but God was not behind it. Flawed people were.

(part 1)

tonyjschroeder said...

(part 2)

The origins of the country's independence was not Christian, it was political. Hence, the documents were designed to establish a political and democratic society not necessarily a religious one. Even then there was enough variance in the Christian attitudes that an addendum was needed to say you can be whatever Christian you want to be (see 1st Amendment). Because an individual's concept of religion can lead to the oppression of another's concept of religion it was pushed by Jefferson that there should be a separation of church and state. After all he had a minority opinion on religion (I mean the guy wrote his own bible) and wanted to protect it. The only way to do that was to remove it from government and allow individual governance of religion. This leads to your next question. Does it make a difference to Christians? Personally, I like the fact that government stays out of my religion and my religion stays out of government. When you link the two together you separate yourself from other governments and peoples. To be Christian is to be inclusive of others. If Christianity wasn't inclusive all the gentiles wouldn't be invited. So when I go to church and I hear God Bless America or pro-American songs, it makes me feel like I'm not including non-American Christians. Keep in mind many Ugandans and Kenyans and Mexicans and for that matter Canadians are in fact Christian. How insulting it is to invite foreigners to your church and ask them to sing God Bless America. As if patriotism is religious.

I'm pretty sure the bible doesn't say we should fight to be made comfortable in our culture; it might say we should work to make others comfortable in our culture. True Christianity is less concerned with state sponsored religion and is more concerned with helping your neighbor. And I don't mean to diminish the evangelical side of things; I'm just saying you can "kill them with kindness"

This is just my opinion; I'm open to other ideas too.

Mel T said...

It's all because of a typo, man. America was known in the 1800s as a Gristing Nation, because of all the grist mills along the Erie Canal. When they started to slide into the canal, the mayor of Cincinatti or Duluth wanted to start a movement to save them. But his secretary typed "we rust before our Christian nation" instead of "we must restore our gristing nation" for the speech. And that's why you're having a bad theology day while the country singers and televangelists can afford mansions and slaves and also many cattle.

jaigner said...

What can I say? Great responses.

Daniel said...

I've chosen to leave my comment directed at your blog, and not to read the other 4 comments before it. If something is repeated, this is why.

I've had the same thoughts as you on more than one occasion. Then I turn to history, and things make sense. Crusades were lead in the name of Christ hundreds of years ago. Many views and ideologies have changed since 1776 as well. At the time of the founding of our nation, people were rising up against an unjust tyrant. Also, (nearly?) every man at the time was a Christian.

Just because a man claims to be a Christian, doesn't mean that he follows the values of Christ. Or even, to be so bold, doesn't mean he follows _your_ interpretation of the values of Christ.

At the time, race wasn't even understood. "We stole. We murdered.". We sure did. It wasn't seen that way at the time. Native Americans, Indians, Redskins, feral people... they weren't seen as human. Neither were Africans. It's horrendous to think of now, but if you were born at the same time, your views would not have been much different. Neither would mine. I'd like to think differently, but it simply isn't the truth.

There's a funny "church sign" banter going around the internet about "all dogs go to heaven" and "dogs don't have souls" and "all rocks go to heaven" that really sums up the current Christian view compared to hundreds of years ago.

Cows are murdered by humans for their meat. This is not un-Christian. Horses are used for labor. This is also not un-Christian. 200+ years ago, Africans were used for labor, and Native Americans murdered for their goods. At the time, this was not un-Christian.

I think that 50 years from now, you'll look back at now, and compare it to 2059, and be very happy at the progress of human beings in general, and their increasing compassion for everything living, whether it be human, animal, or plant. Although the world may be on a short downward turn, we are evolving as human beings in general, and I think we will continue to do so long after both you and I are dead. As we continue to historically document our successes and failures, future generations can better learn and improve upon their history.

jaigner said...


Thanks for the response. I get that society, Christianity and Christians specifically have huge blind spots at each generation.

It is quite well-documented, however, that there were many at the time who understood, at least in part, how horrific these actions were.

Those actions and attitudes, even if they found widespread acceptance, were certainly sub-Christian. The

Additionally, it is quite a far reach to assume that nearly all or even many were more than nominally Christians. It was not easy for people at the time to outwardly reject religion. Certainly many did inwardly. This was also well-documented.

In no way can we choose to say the US was founded as a Christian nation. It was founded by nominal Christians who claimed the name of Christ for their own usage.

We also draw from that same spirit today in all our war pursuits. We have an attitude that our troops are heroes while the value of life elsewhere is viewed as collateral damage.

It just doesn't add up.

jaigner said...

Also, at no time has our nation ever molded itself after the love of Christ. This is the true test, I believe.

Daniel said...

"It was founded by nominal Christians who claimed the name of Christ for their own usage. "

"Also, at no time has our nation ever molded itself after the love of Christ. This is the true test, I believe."

Two very true points that sum it up well, I think.