I read an e-mail just moments ago that started with these words: “A Christian Nation cannot put up a Christmas scene of the baby Jesus in a public place, but the Muslims can stop normal traffic every Friday afternoon by worshiping in the streets.” After a couple more paragraphs, several images are shown of Muslims bowing to pray on Madison Ave. in New York. I’m trying hard to ignore certain things so that I can focus on having a coherent point and not go off on some tangent rant. Such as pointing out there is no such thing as “normal traffic” in New York City. The Muslims haven’t stopped traffic from moving; New Yorkers did that back in the 70’s.
Where is this so-called Christian Nation? Because we don’t live in one. When we say Muslim countries, that is a literal statement. In many nations of the Middle East the government and the religious leaders are one in the same. Religious law is the law of the land. The article mentioned above goes on to say that November cannot come soon enough. The intended effect of said email is to get Christians worked up at the thought of Muslims praying in our streets so that millions go to the polls and vote Republican on election day. I have a degree in history & political science; I hate being told who to vote for.
We live in a land of freedom and opportunity. We live in a country with an entire government system based on the Enlightenment philosophies of guys like Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau. I love this country; I’ve been other places, and there are still some I would like to visit, but this is my home and I plan to live here for the rest of my life. It is not, however, a Christian nation. After Puritans settled Massachusetts, a few people like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were exiled for having ideas that were “different.” In Hutchinson’s case, she believed individuals could interpret the Bible for themselves, a novel idea that used to get Catholics burned at the stake before the Protestant Reformation. Williams founded the colony of Rhode Island, the first of the New England colonies to guarantee both freedom of religion and also separation of church and state. You see in Massachusetts the functions of government were carried out by the very strict order of the Puritans. You’ve heard being Puritanical? We would live in a Christian nation if the colonies had followed their model of governing in the 18th century.
Freedom of religious expression and separation of church and state became hallmarks of the Constitution. Regardless of what revisionist history tells us, the founding fathers did not set out to create a Christian nation. They created a nation of majority rule while protecting minority rights. They created a nation where all people could truly live freely. Christians of all types and flavors have done well here, but there is nothing inherently Christian about our federal government. The Middle East has several Muslim nations; Communist states such as China remain officially non-religious. As a teacher of American history, I admire our uniqueness in the freedom we have to be whatever we wish, or for that matter nothing at all. As an ordained minister I feel blessed that we enjoy the privilege of worshiping freely, more so than just about any other place in the world, the opening sentence of the email I quoted notwithstanding. The Apostle Paul never had it so good. Nor did Jesus or any of his followers. Compared to those guys, American Christians have it made in the shade. And have had for perhaps way too long. Here’s a disturbing thought:
The pictures from NYC show hundreds of Muslims praying in the streets of our “Christian nation.” Where are the praying Christians?
If we live in a Christian nation, why are our churches not filled beyond capacity with Christian worshipers overflowing into the streets and stopping traffic? When Muslims hear us talking about a Christian nation, then see sex, drugs and alcohol on our television programs, billboards and magazines, they think that is how we live out our Christianity. In Muslim nations, the religion is the government and the government owns/runs everything. They do not understand it’s not like that here. This is not a Christian nation and never has been. There is no such thing. If all Christians would leave this land of greed and excess to spend 12 months on a foreign mission field, I believe we would come back with a true heart for sharing the Gospel. American Christianity bears little resemblance to the first century church. They didn’t campaign to get new political leaders; they were locked up, beaten, tortured and in some cases killed by their government and continued for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.
A Christian Kingdom is coming, and it will not be built with human hands.