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Should we call America a Christian nation?Posted Friday, May 9, 2008, at 7:48 AM
We are in a major political season. Even if you were to try, you could not avoid the primary coverage on TV, the water cooler debates about the various candidates and the upcoming appeals for your vote in the primary and general elections.
One of the aspects that is alarming to me during seasons such as this is when someone speaks of America as a "Christian nation." Is it? Was it? Should it be?
On all counts, the answer is no. Now don't start boiling the tar and plucking the geese.
Although even those people who say they want it otherwise, would admit that the United States is not a Christian nation. They sometimes claim it once was and that it was founded to be such. Our country's founding fathers were, at best, Deists. They certainly did not envision a culture where religion would have privilege of place in public life. It would be permitted and protected as a personal right among free people. It would not, however, be the "established" or otherwise promoted or defined, or made compulsory by the government. You wouldn't want that.
It seems to me that a Christian view of history and life in society would protest the idea of a state in which the unique features of Christian theology, lifestyle and worship were written into law. In the several instances where that has happened, it has not had a happy result. Spreading and impressing religion through force quickly becomes fanaticism and persecution -- crusades and Puritans are reminders.
Would it not be a violation of the Golden Rule and the essence of God's word to create a culture in which persons who did not share Christian faith and values were required either to observe them or to show deference to them? If the shoe were on the other foot, would you want to live in a Muslim, Buddhist or atheistic culture and be required to observe or show deference to their ideologies? Of course not,
The point of this is not to say that Christians should be disinterested in or uninvolved with politics. It is to say that we should be involved in the system as "salt" and "light" persons. We should serve the public good and protect the rights of others. We should be particularly sensitive to the weak, marginalized and minorities. America is not a Christian nation, but Christians should always be among the best citizens in any nation where they may happen to live.
Whatever your political learning, be wary of anyone in this political season who seeks to manipulate you with religion. Look askance at any candidate who begins to use religion as a "political football." And turn a deaf ear to the fanatical souls from whatever quarter who say or imply their views are God's mandates. I want to live in a nation where Christians can live without persecution from any quarter. I want to live in a nation where Christianity is not hindered by governmental fiats and laws. That is what the constitution says.
Today it seems our courts and government are infringing on those rights.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Innd., 46168. He has written five books.
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