So here’s the thing: America is not and never was a Christian nation.
“Wow,” say you:
To support the impending verdict of my idiocracy, you would present me with several quotes from the our nation’s Founding Fathers. These may include Samuel Adams saying:
“We have this day (Fourth of July) restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”
Or perhaps the reputable John Adams who sayeth:
“The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity.”
Or even Andrew Jackson who stated:
“(The Bible) is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
“So,” say you:
Okay, okay! Well, let’s try this. If I say I’m a cow…. does that make me a cow?
Okay. Let’s back up:
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard the argument that America is a Christian nation because “just read the Founding Fathers” a million times. This statement is usually followed by some bemoaning proclamation of how the country has drifted away from its “traditional Christian values”. The idea behind this is that America was/is a chosen people of God, the extension of Israel and yet it has fallen away from it’s divine calling. Furthermore, the danger that follows is the justification of America’s endeavors, particularly those of a foreign and military nature, under the banner of God’s will. And key evidence for these convictions are deduced from writings of many early American leaders such as those listed above. The Founding Fathers, one might say, had strong Christian values and thus the country was founded as a beacon of Christianity to the rest of the world.
So yes, the case could be made that the founders of this country based it upon the perception of Christian values. But a lot of things in our nation’s history have been done under the perception of Christian values; the Salem Witch trials were an early product of “Christian” hysteria in our nation; does that mean that they were therefore Christian? Justification for slavery was deduced from flawed exegesis, does that make it Biblical?
The point is clear: just because our nation’s leaders might have declared this to be a Christian nation does not make it a Christian nation. The litmus test for whether or not something is authentic is not whether or not it claims to be authentic; it has to come from outside of itself.
Which brings to mind verrrrryyyyyyy interesting consideration for those of us who like to claim that America was founded as a Christian nation: Christ said to pay your taxes… did he not (Matthew 22:17-21, also see Paul in Romans 13:6-7)? Christ also said to love our enemies, did he not (Matthew 5:44)?
Okay. Now then…wasn’t America birthed by a revolution, one which was sparked by our refusal to pay a certain tax? Wasn’t our refusal followed by utilization of guerilla tactics (read: contemporary terrorism) to kill our enemies in a war lead by the very men who we point to as claiming to be Christian?
If we are were a “Christian nation”(saying nothing for our leadership and collective actions as a people and nation since that time) then where was our acknowledgement, from the beginning, of these two crucial commands of Christ?
And while we’re on the topic: what about “love your neighbor”? There was no footnote to that command that said “unless they happen to be native to the land you want to take over, then allow them to teach you how to grow corn, plant crops, hunt and survive then blast the s$%@! out of them.”
I do not have blue eyes no matter how much I claim to have blue eyes. No matter how much I proclaim to weigh 170 pounds, when I step on the scales they prove that there’s a few more donuts in my stomach than I’ve admitted. What we state about ourselves, what we state about facts, do not make them necessarily true. Our subjective notions and proclamations do not change reality. It doesn’t matter if Benjamin Franklin and his mother screamed it from the rooftops. America never was and still is not a Christian nation.
Answer: you should.
Because God’s word is the word that spoke Creation into being. His truth is the reality upon which the world spins and nations crumble and fall. Nowhere in Scripture does Christ ever proclaim the American nation to be his “chosen nation”. No where. Period. The end. Unless you read Joseph Smith’s writings and if we’re going down that avenue we should also include drug induced sentiments as authoritative considerations. Point being: America is not the continuation of Israel, there’s no ounce of Scriptural authority to support that claim.
So this begs the question: is it possible to have a “Christian nation”?
For Christ came not to found an earthly kingdom but a heavenly one. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus told his followers (John 18:16). And his Church, by extension, is a church that does not attach itself to any singular secular or nationalistic identity. The assignment of the “Christian” label to a nation is not only logically incorrect but defies Christ’s very mission on earth.
There is only one thing that Christ assigned as “Christian”, one human organization that Christ deemed with the responsibility of carrying his witness and proclaiming his worship to the world. That’s the Church: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The message of Christ does not attach itself to the agendas of different nation states; it transcends them.
The fallacy of attaching the label of “Christian” to another human organization is a defiance of our ordination and adoption into the Church, which is God’s proclamation to the world. The Church requires the sole allegiance of the Christian, the nation state is secondary, an alien residence. The problem is that when we label a government “Christian” we not only distract ourselves from Christ’s purpose, but we set ourselves up for a grave conflict of interests: what happens when our so-called “Christian” government contradicts the Church? After all, a wise man once said that we couldn’t serve two masters: if we pledge allegiance to Christ and the state, which one will we ultimately choose?
America is not a Christian kingdom and it never was. That is a role assigned and owned solely by the Church. And the Church, while just as fallible as any other human organization, has been gifted and mandated by God to carry his message and witness to all the world. Any other assertion or allegiance by the Christian is not only great fallacy but also leads to the danger of displaced loyalty on the part of the believer.
As Christians we have been adopted into Christ’s heavenly kingdom. Though we are aliens in another world, and are called to live within that world, our eternal and lasting citizenship is with Christ. Any other nation is not where our identity lies. And it certainly, without a doubt, is not a Christian nation.