The NPR/ BBC radio show World Have Your Say (WHYS) recently asked its listeners if they view the US as a “Christian Nation.” Reviews were mixed with a few of the “live and local” audience in the Florida studio, from which WHYS was broadcasting from, were old and shallow in thought. They believed that simply saying you are “Christian” and/ or “believed in Jesus Christ” made you Christian. Others especially those outside America say that the there are no signs of Christianity in our policies.
Often on WHYS they ask ambiguous questions that leave a lot of grey area to be argued over. Patrons in turn engage in arguing pointless undefined posturing but no real sustenance. This issue was no different. My first thought when I read the topic line was, “how do you define ‘Christian’?” I have broached this subject on this site a few times in the past. Without an agreed definition, a valid debate can not be negotiated.
If you simply define being a “Christian” as on who believes that Jesus Christ existed, then I could agree that The United States is a “Christian” nation. In that light Hitler was a Christian, as well as many of the most heinous creatures to walk the earth in the past 2000 years or so. But I suspect that what makes people straighten up and proudly proclaim their faith is not merely the belief in the existence of a dude from 2000 years ago. What they find so agreeable is that they believe in the moral and social creed of the man and that makes for a more peaceful and harmonious society. They believe that what defines a Christian nation, is policies that reflect that value system.
I will field debate if I am wrong. As I have mentioned before I am an “agnostic Christian”. (That simply means I believe in the man and his plan, just not his source of information.) But it is my understanding that the basic attributes of Jesus Christ’s morality plan are pretty obvious. Don’t kill other people, don’t lie, don’t cheat on each other, don’t steal, and everybody is to be considered equal (so don’t hold yourself above them.) are ideals that had been around and Jesus just affirmed them. But there seemed to be a misconception or even a change in the way “God” wanted people to act towards people who didn’t comply with these rules. Jesus came to preach pacifism. Tolerance, forgiveness, self sacrifice, charity, and love were the new way to respond to those who sinned or wronged you. No worries, he promised a better life after this one, no matter how it ended.
Now above is what I would consider to be Christian traits. So in order to be a Christian nation, our policies and our people should mostly demonstrate these quality. In recent displays we have sought revenge, been driven by greed instead of charity, are intolerant to other religions and cultures, have murdered people who got in the accidental way of our revenge activities, have cheated countries out of their resources, have stole from the ones who wouldn’t let us cheat them, and have shown anything but “love” and expressed equality to our neighbors. By that definition I can not agree that the US is a Christian nation.
Many times during the broadcast, somebody would say, “The United States was founded upon Judaio-Christian values.” This of course is more bogus misrepresentation of the fact. It is a statement that shows that the “tongue-in-cheek” Christianity has been part of the US since the start. Let us not mince words here. The US was “founded” only because of the genocide of the Native American. They were considered heathens, had a price on their head, and treated like animals well after the establishment of the constitution. It started out by lying to them, then cheating then, then stealing from them, finally by killing them. They were never considered equal. That is with out even getting into the issues of slavery, women’s rights, and the wild west. Compare that to the above listed attributes preached by Jesus Christ, and you will see that the US was founded on the back of policies that were certainly not but Christian.
“But that was 400 years ago. I didn’t have anything to do with it. What do you want me to do about it?” For starters stop saying that the US was founded on Christian values. The truth is that Judaism and Christianity were founded on humanistic social values. As it turns out the concept of not killing, cheating, stealing, lying, and equality are psychologically pleasant attributes that promote harmony and good will with in a society. They are however “unnatural” traits to the animal kingdom. Now, isn’t more likely that a couple of more cerebral leader types were sitting around one day and one says, “These are great qualities, but how are we going to get our people to take them to heart?” A second guy says, “We could tell them that if they don’t when they die they will suffer great pain for all eternity and will never get to see their loved ones.” The first guy says, “But isn’t that lying?” The second guy justifies by saying, “ It is one lie to end all lies. Besides who is going to know we made it up. It isn’t like people come back from the dead to report.” And so it was that religion was created.
So is the United States a “Christian nation”? No not a chance. It wasn’t founded on Christian values, the acts and deeds of those who changed it into the country it is now were not Christian, and its current domestic and foreign policies are anything but Christian. However, a lot of people say they believe a guy named Jesus Christ lived 2000 years ago, and they are not afraid to say to on a census form. People often say that Muslim culture is not conducive to freedom and democracy. I would say that free enterprise and democracy are not conducive to Christianity.