By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
America touts itself and has been described as a Christian democracy, but current trends in this government makes that definition hard to swallow.
Our civics classes taught us that this government was set up to prevent the democracy – or more accurately, the democratic republic – from ever becoming a monarchy. Though the Founding Fathers were careful to say and to write that the new country was not a Christian nation, the narrative has been that it is, in fact, Christian. The United States Constitution is not “partial to Christianity,” as noted by The Washington Post. President John Adams said in 1797, “the United States is not, in any sense, founded upon the Christian religion,” Forbes reported.
At this time, the structure of the United States government seems to be sinking under the pressure of an executive branch hell-bent on being authoritarian, and there is a growing chasm between those who claim to be “Biblical Christians” and “Progressive” Christianity.
The truth seems to be that this nation has no clear agreement on what it is and on what Christianity is. In my view, Christians are those who follow the words of Jesus. The words found in Matthew 7:21-23 seem crystal clear; there, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” But “Biblical” Christians are known to take issue with what the will of God is. While those who have been and are being oppressed by political systems see the Gospel and the commands of Christ one way, those in power are apt to see those same words in an entirely different way. I am reminded that author Charles Marsh, whose father was an ordained preacher, was worried that the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma during the Civil Rights movement was in line with the will of God; he was not sure God sanctioned such disobedience and challenge to the pervading laws of the time. Segregation was, apparently, in line with God’s will.
Religion – or Christianity – has a weird history, a tendency to support hard right views. Martin Luther was anti-Semitic and believed that governments should be authoritarian. He touted what became known as Ayran Christianity, which was also known as “traditional” Christianity. Ayran Christians believed that Jesus was sent to cleanse the world of Jewish people, and thus, that Jesus was an Ayran warrior. They denied that Jesus was even Jewish and did not believe that Christianity grew out of Judaism, according to ChurchandState.com.
The Christianity of Germans and of those who believed in the Ayran God abhorred “the impiety, secularism, and hedonistic decadence that they associated with democracy and free speech,” the article referenced above states. The Christianity of western culture was often “deeply racist, often antidemocratic, and in many respects, dangerously primitive Western culture Nazism would arise.”
But that wouldn’t apply to us, would it? We are a democracy. We believe in democracy, and we are Christian, right?
Maybe not. One of my Twitter followers – a lover of the current president – said, “What the DEMOCRATS are doing to our duly elected Prez is unconscionable.”
I discouraged the blanket condemnation of “the Democrats,” noting that neither political party has a monopoly on righteousness. I said in that same tweet, though, that the president is killing this country’s democracy and that many people would suffer…and her response was, “Democracy needs to be killed. We are a Republic.”
What she said jostled my very spirit. I have read much about how Germans hated democracy; they thought it was weak and that its principles of tolerance were weak and contaminated by Judaism. I have also been amazed at how a large portion of our country seems not to be bothered at all by the apparent disregard and disrespect of the Constitution, which has always been lifted up as a model document.
If “Biblical Christians” – i.e., those who say the current president was put in office by God, and that the White House is a sanctuary, those who say that “God dealt with Rep. Cummings because he dared challenge the president,” The Washington Post reported – and if democracy is not sacred to Americans, then what kind of nation are we, in truth? It seems that the chasm between the right and the left is deeper and far more intricate than I ever imagined.
And that is not good for America.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her latest book, Rest for the Justice-Seeking Soul, is now available for pre-orders through Barnes and Noble at http://bit.ly/restbn or through Amazon at http://bit.ly/restamazon.