America and Christian Nationalism

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

A large (and apparently growing) percentage of the American population are not only in favor of making a "Christian nation" of the USA, but of going further: instituting Biblical Law. Rather than examining their arguments, I want to link to some news articles and publications which touch on the subject, and open a thread for comments from our readers. Please leave your feedback.

Recently, Michelle Goldberg wrote an article on Salon (you can read it for free after viewing a short ad, just make sure to allow cookies) entitled, "Kingdom Coming: On the Rise of Christian Nationalism".

Last year, Steve Weissman posted a five-part series on the same subject at truthout.org.

Recently, Sunsara Taylor wrote an article on BattleCry, a ministry which uses military allegories and targets youth in rallies, entitled "Fear and Loathing at Philadelphia's BattleCry."

August Berkshire got a really nice op-ed in a MN paper on religion and law.

I strongly suggest that you read through all of these to get an idea of what is going on, but for a sampler, here are some clips and excerpts from the articles:

Faith + Values Forum: Keep religious texts out of laws, civil marriage
August Berkshire

Twenty years from now, when same-sex marriage is accepted the way other civil rights are accepted today, we can expect religions to claim they were at the forefront of obtaining this right. We know better. Almost every social advance that freed people and gave them more rights was opposed by religion. Examples include abolition of slavery, a woman's right to vote, contraception, abortion rights, civil rights and interracial marriage. Religionists remain a roadblock to the Equal Rights Amendment, same-sex marriage and (in the current administration) universal health care.

The Bible is like a Rorschach inkblot test: you can see just about anything you want in it. That is why Christians themselves cannot agree on such things as masturbation, premarital sex, contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, stem cell research, euthanasia and the death penalty. The Bible or religion as a moral guide? With all this disagreement, how is that possible?


Fear and Loathing at Philadelphia's BattleCry
Sunsara Taylor

Immediately afterward, a preacher took the microphone and led the crowd in prayer. Among other things, he asked the attendees to “Thank God for giving us George Bush.”

On his cue, about 17,000 youths from upward of 2,000 churches across America and Canada directed their thanks heavenward in unison.

Throughout the three and a half hours of BattleCry’s first session, I thought of only one analogy that fit the experience: This must have been what it felt like to watch the Hitler Youth, filled with self-righteous pride, proclaim the supremacy of their beliefs and their willingness to shed blood for them.

And lest you think this is idle paranoia, BattleCry founder Ron Luce told the crowds the next morning (May 13) that he plans to launch a “blitzkrieg” in the communities, schools, malls, etc. against those who don’t share his theocratic vision of society.

Blitzkrieg.

Nothing like a little Nazi imagery to whip up the masses...

...Luce put great emphasis on following every word in the Bible, treating it as an “instruction book,” even when a person doesn’t understand or agree. This is, of course, the logic that leads to the stoning of gays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and much more—because the Bible says so.

Chillingly, when I confronted Ron explicitly about these passages, he refused to disavow them. During the afternoon preceding the May 12 rally, Luce and about 300 BattleCry acolytes (almost entirely youths) rallied in front of Philadelphia’s Constitution Hall—the location having been chosen because Luce wants to “restore” the Founding Fathers’ vision of a religious society (never mind that the Founders enshrined in the Constitution an explicitly secular framework of government).

I and about 20 people representing various anti-Bush, atheistic and anti-Iraq-war factions made our way into the rally and began interacting with the youths assembled. Some said openly that it was OK that George Bush’s lies have cost the lives of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Why was it OK? Because “God put him [Bush] there.”


For more on this story, see two "hot off the presses" articles on DailyKos:
1) DailyKos 1
2) DailyKos 2

"Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism"
Michelle Goldberg

Speaking to outsiders, most Christian nationalists say they're simply responding to anti-Christian persecution. They say that secularism is itself a religion, one unfairly imposed on them. They say they're the victims in the culture wars. But Christian nationalist ideologues don't want equality, they want dominance. In his book "The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action," George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries, wrote:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ."


America's Religious Right - Saints or Subversives? -- Part V: "The Ayatollah of Holy Rollers"
Steve Weissman
As early as 1963, Rushdoony wrote a "Christian revisionist" historical account called The Nature of the American System, in which he rejected the separation of church and state. The authors of the Constitution, he wrote, intended "to perpetuate a Christian order."

He similarly opposed the secular bent of American public schools, becoming an early proponent of Christian home-schooling, which he defended as a First Amendment right of their parents.

"We must use the doctrine of religious liberty ... until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government," explained his son-in-law Gary North. "Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."

Rushdoony opposed labor unions, women's equality, and civil rights laws. He favored racial segregation and slavery, which he felt had benefited black people because it introduced them to Christianity. He largely denied the Holocaust. And he made it kosher for Christian leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell openly to despise democracy.

"Supernatural Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies," wrote Rushdoony, "Democracy is the great love of the failures and cowards of life."


For more on Rushdoony, see his Wikipedia entry

America's Religious Right - Saints or Subversives? -- Part I: The Lure of Christian Nationalism
Steve Weissman

With all their many sects and denominations, American evangelicals differ on all sorts of questions, from when Jesus Christ will return to the proper way to run a church. But most Southern Baptists and Pentecostals share the belief, more political than religious, that America once was and should again become a Christian nation.

This is Christian nationalism, and no one has done more to popularize it than an energetic young man named David Barton. A self-taught historian, he has dredged up hundreds of fascinating historical quotes and anecdotes in an effort to prove that the founding fathers were primarily "orthodox, evangelical Christians" who intended to create a God-fearing Christian government.


For more on Barton's fraudulence, see a refutation of his claims and expose of his lies by fellow Christians here:
A Critique of David Barton's Views on Church and State (by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)

America's Religious Right - Saints or Subversives? -- Part II: Hang Ten and Fight!
Steve Weissman

According to the polls, most Americans see the Ten Commandments more as a cherished symbol of universal morality than as a statement of religious belief. Yet, in repeated tests, few seem to know very much about them - or about the religious and political conflicts they inevitably invite.

To begin with, they resonate mostly with Jews and Christians, and - to a limited degree - with Muslims. They largely exclude Americans who follow other religious traditions, such as Buddhists and Hindus. They also exclude a growing number of pagans, polytheists, and non-believers, such as myself.

3 comments:

Daniel said...

This very thing is part of my motivation to join this blog, and contribute elsewhere, in an attempt to expose the dangers and flaws of Christian belief.

What else is needed?

Bruce said...

Religion is very well politically organized and funded in this country. I think we need to be willing to do the same in the fight against theocracy. A few places I've given my money to recently:

Godless Americans Political Action Committee

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Also, I think that we need to be a little more open about our atheism with friends, neighbors, in public settings, etc... "Evangelicalism" isn't for everyone, and I don't mean to imply that everyone needs to be a "warrior for reason", but the more that everyday ordinary average atheists speak up, the more people will realize that we are everywhere. Just like other successful social movements in this country, you have to raise a little hell up front before people begin to take you seriously.

Daniel said...

I think that we need to be a little more open about our atheism with friends, neighbors, in public settings, etc...

I agree wholeheartedly. Refusal to be unacknowledged is the first step towards establishing dialogue, and, hopefully, understanding.

A lot of people think that atheists only number around 3% of Americans, or less, but there are some really good reasons to think otherwise, and that many who prefer "not religious" or "agnostic" are "polite atheists". The most recent ARIS survey self-identified 14% of Americans as "no religion". That's telling.