Thursday, January 26, 2012

America is Not a Christian Nation

by S. Paul Forrest

“Tell me a tale”, I said to my master. “Tell me of a time when man was deceived by promises of a better tomorrow that never came: A fiction of men who lie to make me feel secure within my life’s insecurities. Tell me a story of false hope, Master: The one where I will serve you while suffering the death of my conscience and the blackening of my soul before leaving this plain. Lie to me so I may never realize the true depths of your deception.”
~ S. Paul

Over and over again, we are told by the right wing how America is a Christian Nation: A land where family values and Christian morals need once again to exist as our Forefathers planned.  From Sarah Palin to Rick Perry, the idea that a renewal of Christian values will somehow save our Nation from the socio-economic degradation we have been experiencing, has inundated every political issue from protecting America against terrorism (Islam) to restructuring our education system. The idea of having a moral and ethical America is quite appealing to a large number of us but upon closer examination; the policies and practices these neo-theocrats are pushing forth are anything but Christian.

We have all watched as evangelism has slowly crept into our government. Like the slow decay of rot in the roots of a great tree, the embarking upon the trail toward a theocratic system for this great Nation became solidified when George H. W. Bush announced that the evil of Islamic Radicalism must be stopped.  Even though President Bush did distinguish between Muslims and Radical Islam, many on the periphery of the mission took the rhetoric of protection against this radicalism to the next level.  Like many in the radical media realm, FOX News host Brian Kilmeade stated that all terrorists are Muslim; somehow ignoring the many white Christian terrorists that have reaped havoc in America, only exacerbated the concept of all Muslims are potential terrorists and capable of killing anyone they disagree with.

This skewed image of Islam has created a resurgence of hardcore faith among the more radical fringes of Christianity. In these Christian outskirts, Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism, has surged forward into the public sector in “popular” media and upon the political stage.  From Palin to Perry, FOX News to Rush Lindbaugh, we have been inundated with anti-Islam rhetoric, quasi-Christian promises of protection against Terrorism and salvation from our current socio-economic distress if we support this new Theocratic system of governance.

“The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades, witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It's like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades--politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side.” 

Apart from this shoring of our national borders and foreign interests, these evangelists speak of our current President as a socialist or Marxist for his continued fight to maintain Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance. They call these bedrock programs designed to help Americans in times of economic stress, social entitlements.  Some on the Republican campaign trail have painted the image that they are only given to the lazy among us but the truth is very different: These programs allow Americans to survive and fulfill their own obligations to family values.

On the platform of Presidential ambition, candidates like Newt Gingrich have lauded “family values” while having an extra-marital affair. He has also stated that child labor laws are stupid, Barack Obama is the food stamp President and has compared unemployment insurance to welfare. Not be out done, Herman Cain criticized Occupy Wall Street protesters by saying, "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself". More poignantly, candidate Michelle Bachman has stated, people who don’t work shouldn’t eat.  With these comments and promises to undo “entitlements”, they are pushing to embrace a system of governance that is the very antithesis of Christian values. The 2012 field Presidential hopefuls sound more like the Pharisees in these anti-social statements than Disciples of Christ.

Using religion as a weapon against the Democratic party, Liberals and those who do not believe America is exceptional in any way given its lack of Christian approach toward other nations and religions, the Right has taken our President’s once Muslim history and used it to create a fear factory against his desire to serve our Nation.  Attacks on his citizenship, his politics and even his Christianity in Jeremy Wright’s congregation have become the staple of the right wing’s ideological hate machine.  What about the war’s in the Middle East begun by the previous republican President and his minions who lied to us all about WMDs or the record number of immigrants allowed into this country under them?  What about an economy brought on by lack of oversight and insider trading which had gone lax under him? What about the loss of so many civil rights taken away by the propaganda machine of an anti-Islamic agenda? The right never brings these truths up but rather, continues to give half truths and exaggerated statistics so as to demonize not only Obama but those who once believed in the American Dream now living through a financial nightmare.

For those true Christians out there, we can look at Matthew, Chapter 25 as a reminder of what Christ stood for:
{{35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’37Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did unto me.’}}
So by this example of Christian values, what the neo-conservative Christians do unto the least of us, they do unto Him.  Maybe they are reading a different Bible than other Christians have read.

Passing laws against gay marriage and abortion, disallowing convicted felons to vote; essentially eliminating their democratic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as condemning Islam as an evil religion, these Christian Reconstructionists (or is it Deconstructionists?) are taking from us our very governmental structure.  By saying our Founding Mothers and Fathers were Christian, rather hoping that We the People are not educated enough to know better, they are driving an agenda that this author cannot see as anything other than the same blinding control over our lives as the Church once had over our ancestors; pre-immigration.  Ironically, this same system being set up here where a Theocracy controls the people, is the same type of system our Forefathers (particularly the pilgrims and Quakers) came here to escape.

There is no doubt that our forefathers had Christian backgrounds. God is more than once mentioned in our founding papers but our Nation was established with the idea of freedom from persecution for non-populist speech, freedom of assembly, press and religion.  The Constitution is quite explicit in its condemnation of a National religion.  It is frightening how quickly our aspiring representatives wish to detract from this self-evident truth in order to take us back to the age of Secular Rule in lieu the non-secular vision that our founders had for this Nation.

"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion & Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
~ James Madison

Add to this neo-Christian assault upon our Free Nation the growing trend arising from these same people demonizing the poor and downtrodden merely trying to survive; the fervent assault upon immigrants by labeling illegal entries criminals while at the same time making legal entry financially infeasible for most; and the growing desire to insult those in need of social assistance as lazy when that need was largely created by their inability to govern by their predecessors, one must ask the obvious question: In what world would a true Christian turn their back on their fellow citizens in need only to perpetuate a system that favors only the rich and privileged?

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion - as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, - and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arrising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
~ John Adams

The proclaimed origins of our Nation as somehow Christian, is a moot point given the truth of our Nation’s founding. There is no doubt that our founders had come from Christian roots but the philosophies which had become so imprisoning in Old Country’s Religion were denounced by them.  Our forefathers were not “Christian” in the way it is envisioned today by these modern day, evangelical extremists.  In a factual perspective, at the dawn of our Nation’s founding, the ideologies surrounding the envisioning of a Free Nation had less to do with Christian beliefs than they did Deist philosophies. To extrapolate this truth so as to say that meant a Christian God as opposed to Allah of Islam or Vishnu of Hinduism; is autocratic at best.

The most recent event which has caused anyone with a sense of what Christianity truly is to question the Christian alignment of these self-appointed representatives of God, occurred surrounding the Occupy Wall Street protests. Represented by a segment of the population which had become tired of corporate control of our government and those representatives that no longer serve We the People, Occupiers have been speaking out by gathering in protest against the injustices existing within our system of government. Instead of listening to the complaints and understanding that many participating had reached the end of their financial rope and needed their concerns to be addressed, Right wingers like Gingrich were calling them riff raff; homeless, lazy beggars who just needed “to get a job” and “take a bath”.   Would Jesus have said the same in his stead?

This article could go on and on citing examples of neo-Christian contradiction as seen on the political stage but if the reader has not yet come to understand the basic premise, nothing will change their minds.  Given the amount of time spent demeaning and belittling those in America suffering for poor governance, emerging hopefuls are looking to worsen it. Compounded with the conviction that somehow the poor and unemployed do not deserve consideration in this Nation by them, and those loudspeakers for Islam Phobia, these people are only detracting from the Christian appeal, not adding to it.

This nation was indeed founded upon Christian beliefs and morals but our Founding Fathers were very clear about separating Church and State.  The new push to reclaim America in Jesus’ name is nothing more than a step toward theocracy to not only condemn Islam, thereby ratifying ongoing cultural persecution, but it forces into our schools, public offices, healthcare facilities and businesses, a system that controls education, women’s rights and religious freedom.  Church and State are separate for a reason; the two together diminish any hope that we will remain free.  Given the policies of our representative hopefuls inundating the political landscape of late, damning the poor, downtrodden and homeless, it is all too obvious that America is not a Christian Nation. 

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