Skip to main content

Christian Nation, Melting Pot, or Honey Pot?

For several decades there has been a continuing shift from the historic faith, values, and traditions upon which this country was founded. We have drifted from being a Christian Nation to a Nation that is said to be founded on Christian principles. We have absorbed and birthed a number of religions and, as a Nation, have embraced religious pluralism.

During the presidential primaries, faith and its place in today’s society has become an important part of the debate. Media, journalists, and voters, have frequently asked candidates about their religious views. The presumptive presidential nominees of each party also had to address their own views of how, or where, “Christian” fits into our heritage.

“I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles.... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn't mean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would--I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead.” John McCain 1

“Given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” Barack Obama, Call to Renewal Keynote Address June 28, 2006 2

From centuries past you can hear the gasp of disbelief from the founding fathers of this Nation, as regardless of who wins, our next President has acknowledged this is not a Christian nation; but, at best, a nation established on Christian principles. These were certainly not the views expressed by men such as John Jay, (President of the Continental Congress and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) who wrote:

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

It would be hard to imagine in this age of political correctness that a political leader or candidate would give voice to such thoughts. Perhaps even more difficult to imagine would be those expressed by our second president, John Adams, who wrote:

“The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity.”

Today, anyone expressing such views would be quickly labeled as intolerant or an extremist, if not both. Yet, these were the views held by many, if not most of the founding fathers; rooted in their Christian faith. And, they were views that were openly and oft expressed.

Today, many Christians still hold the beliefs expressed by Jay and Adams, but no longer dare express them in public discourse; especially in the political arena. Even noted Christian leaders have at times backed away from sharing such beliefs before secular audiences. It makes you wonder why beliefs that were prominently expressed by our founding fathers are rarely part of the public discussion today.

In his Call to Renewal Keynote Address, Senator Obama made an interesting observation relative to the discussion about religion going on today:

“Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew…when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome - others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.”

He is correct that there is an ongoing debate about the various religious views held in our country. He is also correct that the discussion often leaves a vacuum to be filled. And, perhaps, he is even correct that it is too often filled with those who “use religion to justify partisan means”. But, it is also true that, increasingly, missing from that discussion are those that represent the religious convictions expressed by John Jay, John Adams, and other founders of our Nation. If Christians still hold these convictions dear then they must become part of this discussion.

Integral to this debate must be the realization, by all sides, that the litmus test for being an American is not whether or not one is a Christian; nor does being an American mean that a Christian must give up long-held expressions of their faith anymore than a person of another faith must give up theirs.

Tolerance does not mean only speaking about areas where we find common ground. Neither is intolerance measured by the degree to which one expresses views that are opposed to those of another. In fact, faith demands that one hold firm to his/her convictions and express them consistently and truthfully. Those who claim to be followers of Christ must also, as Christians and Americans, discuss areas of disagreement with civility and respect; something that is all too often missing in our Country today.

While we may disagree who has the honey and who is the fly, the old adage, “you can catch more flies with honey” is still true. So why not join me in a jar of honey and let’s sit down and have a conversation.

1http://christianity.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=christianity&cdn=religion&tm=603&gps=130_1016_1276_629&f=00&tt=11&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//pewforum.org/religion08/profile.php%3FCandidateID%3D3
2 http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaonFaith.pdf

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"No Te Preocupes" by Jeff Sutherland

“Si me dieras el si!”

Loosely translated this means, “If only she would say yes”. This is the only sentence I learned in my four quarters of Spanish other than, “Donde es el bano?” (Where is the bathroom), and “Yo quiero mas cervasas.” (I need more beer). The latter two, I must admit, were closely connected as part of my college days. The former, however, proved to have much greater importance as it was a sentence I learned while attempting to woo my future bride into marrying me.

Fortunately God in His infinite wisdom convinced my bride to say yes because He knew I needed lots of help staying close to Him. He also knew she needed to be challenged by my foolish ideas.

In addition to my wife, I have also learned much from God through, more than 30 years of toiling in the soil, making sure the grounds and greens at the golf course were in good shape. Recently, I have seen evidence of this as He used my new amigos and fellow workers to teach me and them more about Him and His ways.

I did…

Whatever Happened to "Merry Christmas"?

As I grow older, I find myself sounding more and more like my parents and those of their generation. I catch myself saying things like, “When I was growing up…”, or “I remember when…”, or “It didn’t use to be this way, why in the old days…”

So, having admitted this, let me say, I can remember when you would go to the store during Christmas and, after finishing your shopping, the store clerk would wish you a Merry Christmas; which you joyfully returned. But, it wasn’t just in stores, practically everyone wished one another a Merry Christmas.

Not today, however. Today I am bombarded with, “Happy Holidays”. And whereas Christmas cards used to proclaim boldly, “Merry Christmas”, now they simply wish the recipient a “Happy Holiday”, or “Seasons Greetings”. Such a generic proclamation could refer to any holiday, or any season.

On this point, Christmas Eve 2002, the New York Times ran an article that included the following observation about this “holiday” season:

“Heaven forbid that anyone …

Say It Ain't So Reba!

Grammy award winning, country singer, Reba McEntire has had numerous hit records. She’s been in movies, had her own television show, and has several product lines she endorses. Without question, she presents that down-home country likability. In fact, you might say she’s everyone’s “country darling”.

However, even she must realize that what she confessed to believe, during a recent interview in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Oct 16), will be so startling to many that it will dramatically change how they regard her. The interview starts out innocently enough, with her talking about her sitcom, movies, and even her foray into horse racing.
She even gives a nod to God acknowledging her talent is, “a gift from God”. And that if she didn’t use it, she, “wouldn’t blame Him one bit if he took it away and gave it to someone else”.
Nothing all that controversial so far. However, her answer when asked to reveal a secret for her fans will surprise many of them. The “secret” seems innocent enough wh…