Christian America? God's not fooled

By Norman Wirzba

Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston. Photo / David J. Phillip
Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston. Photo / David J. Phillip

Political elections are as much about those doing the electing as it is about those eventually elected. If each vote represents what a voter believes and hopes for, then the person elected is really a magnification of the desires voters happen to have.

This is why national elections are so fascinating. Every four years, Americans collectively paint and present to the world a picture that communicates their aspirations and fears. It is a picture that enables us to see the character of a nation.

When I first moved from Canada to the United States 30 years ago, I was told repeatedly that America is a Christian nation.

It isn't simply that America has many self-professing Christians living within its borders. The identity of America as a whole, its history and its destiny, are somehow tied to Christianity.

Political leaders feel the need to appear Christian, say Christian-sounding things, show up at Christian institutions, and end their speeches with "God bless America!" American money proclaims "In God we trust." What could be more Christian than that?

The current election cycle is demonstrating (once again) that the rhetoric and mythology of a uniquely Christian America should come to an end. Why? Because the votes don't lie.

Although voters may speak piously and rather vaguely about Christian values and ideals, polls and election results communicate clearly that this is a nation consumed by fear, anger and suspicion, none of which are Christian virtues.

If voters were serious about presenting to the world a picture of a Christian America, they would need to be painting with the colours of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness and self-control, because these are the colours that, as the Apostle Paul said, witness to Jesus Christ and the power of God at work in their lives.

Of course, Americans and their leaders will continue to speak in the name of God, even profess grand things about God, as they make their case for American Exceptionalism and the righteousness of the American Way. But from a scriptural point of view, it is all rubbish. What matters is not what you say but how you live.

And from a Christian point of view, nothing matters more than living a life that is inspired by God's love for everyone.

God is not fooled. God simply asks: Did you feed the hungry, offer drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit those in prison?

How will America fare in this time of judgment, especially when we admit as evidence the millions of Americans (many of them children and the elderly) who do not have enough good food to eat, or the millions of Americans who have to drink water polluted with lead and industrial/agricultural pollutants?

God is asking the nations about their public policy, not their verbal piety, because the true test of Christianity has only ever been the test of love.

Love or noise? Love or nothing? Christianity hinges on how people choose between them. If Americans were serious about being a Christian country, they would elect leaders who are patient and kind, and never boastful or rude. They would demand a political process much less characterised by vitriol and noise.

In calling for an end to the rhetoric of a "Christian America", I am not calling for an end to Christianity in America.

Citizens are going to have to separate once and for all the false identification of American and Christian ideals. They may overlap from time to time, but they are not the same.

- Bloomberg

- Washington Post

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