I tend to have qualms with a lot of mainstream Christian belief, mainly because its belief structure is most likely to simply set aside critical thought so as to reverberate and regurgitate the theological echo often heard by celebrity charismatic Christian leaders…maybe my problem is with the leaders – maybe not. I admit, I do get annoyed with the screams of condemnation – the condemnation of the world outside of the church and not the world that is going on inside of the church. I get the fact that people get sidetracked and confused. Sometimes people are brought up a certain way in which they are unwilling, and scarier: unable to see where they are going wrong. So my concern is not necessarily with the people as much as it is with the (false) message preached by the mainstream.
One of the most significant topics often confused or misrepresented in American Christianity is nationalism. The thought usually goes something like this: the United States was founded upon Christian principles; therefore, the United States is a Christian nation. Or sometimes in addition to this, some would say that the United States was founded by a very Christian people, therefore, the United States was meant to be and therefore is a Christian nation. This talk seems to always develop into the message that America should come back to its Christian roots. America should turn away from the evils that it is doing, submit to God, and become a Christian nation, again. But what if the United States wasn’t a Christian nation to begin with? What if the country we thought was so Christian, in fact, was dreadfully sinful throughout its existence? Many do not want to admit it, but that is the case. The founding and building of the United States was on horrifically sinful terms – justified by competition between many proud, drunk, rich, white, landowning men who slaughtered Native Americans in order to possess land that would eventually lead to them profiting off the backs of traded slave labor.
The average mainstream Christians want to ignore this, or pass it off as some sort of liberally biased history, but it’s the truth. The majority of those who held the power and wealth during the revolutionary times were the same people trading slaves, raping and having babies with their maids, and killing Native Americans because they stood in their way of making a profit. There is no other way around it; America was never founded on Christian values because in order to be founded upon the values of Christ the actions of those considered to be founders ought to have mimicked the actions of Christ – they did not. And herein lays the problem: the vast majority of those who played a large role in the founding and building of America lacked the willingness to untie profits and self-interest from their moral compass, and therefore saw nothing wrong or immoral with the slaughter of a disturbing amount of innocent victims (Native Americans) as well as the abuse and oppression of an entire group of people (African Americans). The founding of this country had a lot to do with competition. There is nothing wrong with competition, insofar as it does not lead to the production of pride: or, in the words of Augustine: “the love of one’s own excellence.” But pride in Augustine’s sense is the natural product of economic competition. This type of competition breeds pride in the sense that our happiness and joy are derived from the thought that we better than someone else. The goal of economic competition is rooted in this idea that others are just things to overcome, outsell, and outshine. And this is the very reason our country was not founded upon Christian principles. It was founded upon liberal Capitalism disguised as religious rhetoric.
So when I hear the nostalgic thought or saying that we ought to return to the good ole days – the days when America used to be a Christian nation, I am unaffected by the sentiment. And, to be honest, I am only disgusted by the idea that a nation has anything to do with how God works – God will work, when and where he wants to work, regardless if we “allow” Him in our spaces and places or not. So now you know why I get upset when we refer to the Christian church of America as simply “America” – implying that the Christian church ought to include those who have rejected the church outright and for all it stands, as if it is our job as a church to condemn the world for being the world.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges… - 1 Corinthians 5:12-13