A “Christian Nation” ?

Lately, especially over the last few years, there’s been a great deal of rhetoric from largely conservative sources about the need to stop “the war on Christian America,” a “war” supposedly being waged by “the left.”

Those making such charges claim that liberals and the left want to replace “Christian values” with big government, but those making the charges conveniently ignore history and the Constitution. At the time the Constitution was drafted, Europe had endured hundreds of years of war over which creed and what “Christian values” were to be the law of what land. That was why the Founding Fathers stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

So… by the words of the Constitution itself, the United States is not legally and should never be a “Christian nation.” Nor should explicitly religious beliefs and practices be enshrined in law. Yet when individuals and groups use the law to protest local and state laws establishing or promoting religious values, Republicans and many evangelicals paint those individuals as leftist radicals trying to destroy the United States.

What’s ironic about the efforts of the Republicans and evangelicals to paint the left as the enemies of Christianity is that Republicans and too many evangelicals are attempting, through changes in statutory law, especially on the state level, but increasingly on the federal level, to impose mandatory “Christian values” on everyone, whether Christian or not. Currently, a wide range of studies and surveys indicate that roughly 35% of Americans are not Christians. Most of that 35% are either non-believers, atheists, or agnostics.

There’s a clear difference between freedom to practice one’s own faith and enacting laws to force one’s beliefs on others through law, and that difference is ignored more and more, largely, but not exclusively, by Republicans and the far right, not that there’s much difference any more.

7 thoughts on “A “Christian Nation” ?”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    The founders were against sectarianism (esp. between different Protestant groups, although not to preclude tolerance of Catholics or even Jews, or others that obeyed laws and were not disruptive), but most were Christian, although some like Jefferson were more like non-doctrinal deists. But ALL of them drew heavily on both the Judeo-Christian concepts of law and society, and the structure of the Roman Republic (when it still was a republic rather than an empire, although definitely not a republic for anyone other than the more or less privileged).

    I don’t think it was a bunch of conservative Republicans that vandalized various Catholic churches etc over the last year. So odds are, that (and almost ALL “cancel culture”) comes from the left – which is ALWAYS about power and against liberty to disagree with them.

    I think there’s only TWO cases where ANYONE has seriously attempted to enact (in part! there are NON religious arguments to be made against these things too) religiously motivated laws recently (not counting a lot of closed-on-Sunday blue laws mostly repealed): restricting abortions that are not medically necessary to save a woman’s life, and marriage between anything other than a natural male and a natural female. One can CERTAINLY argue that being ultimately arbitrary what point one sets at which a blob becomes a human, it would be better to err on the side of human, WITHOUT resort to any religious argument. One can also argue that a family ideally consisting of parents and their offspring is the core of a healthy society, and words like “marriage” should not be redefined for the sake of inclusiveness – WITHOUT resort to religious argument, and WITHOUT EVEN precluding a civil union legally IDENTICAL except for the WORD “marriage”.

    So imagining a bunch of conservative Republican “Christian” people that are no better than psycho ayatollahs from Iran, is by and large a piece of fiction designed to preclude anyone other than those thus demonized from also supporting some of the same restrictions – hardly onerous restrictions if people take precautions BEFORE boinking, or just want to live with their partner of choice rather than persuade everybody that EVERYTHING Is mainstream, which it isn’t and can’t and needn’t be, provided crimes against non-mainstream victims were also vigorously enforced. You have a right to your freaky, but keep it private; even non-freaky details are TMI, see also tabloids, Jerry Springer, etc.

    1. My, my… I never said, or even implied, any comparison between fanatical Muslims and ultra-conservative Christians. I did say that enshrining specific “Christian” values into law was against the Constitution.

    2. Hanneke says:

      You write that it wasn’t Republicans who defaced Catholic churches last year, yet there have been quite a few churches and synagogues in the US defaced by pro-Trump and neo-nazi slogans, some well before the BLM movement became prominent, e.g. in the run up to Trump’s election in 2016. Painting slogans where they don’t belong seems to be an equal opportunities on both sides sort of crime or misdemeanor.

      On the other hand, whenever in the US people in or at a church are physically harmed or killed, often shot or once teargassed (including the pastor of that church, for Trump’s photo-op in front of that pastor’s church) the perpetrators turn out to be Republican adherents and/or far right extremists.

      They are also almost universally the ones who physically assault people for looking like they adhere to a non-Christian religion, such as women wearing headscarves or Sikh men wearing a turban and beard, or orthodox Jews, and perpetrate attacks on or at a synagogue or mosque or Sikh temple.

      I would consider these assaults on places of worship and killings of congregants to be the more serious crimes against religious adherents. Much more so than painting slogans or breaking windows, which both sides do, though you only mention those which fit into your “the left is eeeviil” narrative.

  2. Matthew Newman says:

    To your second example. If the laws of the land allowed people the same rights, protections and privileges afforded to married couples then most would happily live quietly. The laws sadly do not afford such protections and so the LGBTQ+ community has no other choice than to enter the mainstream.

    In general, no sane person can argue that the Republican party of today is independent of the Christian right. The conflict between that reality and the feigned reverence for the constitution defines the hypocrisy of the modern right wing as exemplified by the likes of the never less than insincere Ted Cruz.

    1. Tom says:

      “In general, no sane person can argue that the Republican party of today is independent of the Christian right.”

      I wonder which or who, is independent of what or whom in the association of republicans and “Christians”? Perhaps they are symbiotic?

  3. Postagoras says:

    I disagree. I don’t think that Republican strategists want to make the US a Christian nation.

    But Republican strategists are certainly using “Christian values” to bring out a reliable portion of the electorate.

    I’m sure they know they’re going to lose these “battles”. And, they’re happy to lose. It means that they can go back to the well and mobilize these voters again.

    It’s a marketing strategy, not a policy.

    1. I’d agree partly, but since I’ve worked for or known influential Republican politicians who definitely believed and acted that way, I’d say it’s more of a combination of the true believers and power seeking cynics.

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