First of all, I’d like to ask for prayers for a dear friend of mine, who has decided to let go of long held grief this Lenten Season. Prayers for healing and growing for you!
This past Sunday, The New York Times Magazine ran an article on how Conservative Activists on the Texas Board of Education want American textbooks to be clear that the authors of the US Constitution intended the country to be a “Christian Nation.” You can read the entire article for yourself here. As a former Science teacher, I take issue with a board of well meaning, but non teachers making textbook and standards decisions but that’s a topic for another post.
For me, what sticks in my head is: Why? Why is there a need to explicitly declare that the US is a Christian Nation? In the same vein, what type of Christianity are we talking about? During the Colonial Period, there were two major Christian factions: the Congregationalists and the Anglicans, both of which came from England. These two factions felt they were it and made other faiths (Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, etc) unwelcome, if not out right persecuted them. Fast forward to 2010 and we see that nothing much has changed. Sure, sure, we can say that persecution of one group by other (Jewish vs. Gentile; Catholic vs. Protestant; Believers vs. Non-believers; Pastafarians vs. The Kansas Board of Education) has been that way since the dawn of time, but does that make it right? Further more, there is the crux that history is written by the winner and that the loser has a very different point of view.
Which brings us to today’s Psalm. Psalm 2 is a royal psalm in which the speaker is speaking to rebellious Kings of the time. The speaker of this Psalm reiterates that by divine decree, the Israelite King is the earthly representative of God on Earth and that all other Kings are to obey him. This Psalm has a Messianic interpretation and the Israelite King is understood by Christians to be the Christ. With this in mind, I go back to my original question: Why is there a need to declare the US as a Christian Nation if by being Christian one already believes in the Kingship of Christ and that He is Ruler of all? In declaring the US as a Christian Nation, will this make other nations more or less apt to take issue with US policy?
People like to talk about “Freedom of Religion” and others read it as “Freedom From Religion.” One of the many things that makes the US great is that freedom, that no one has to follow one faith or another. I love being Catholic and I sleep well at night knowing that I will take up the next morning still a Catholic. Let us not focus on what divides us as Christians but rather what unites us. As Christians, we are all part of the catholic (little c) Church… the universal belief in Christ.
I guess Psalm 2:10-11 sums it up:
And now, kings, give heed; take warning, rulers on earth. Serve the LORD with fear; with trembling bow down in homage, Lest God be angry and you perish from the way in a sudden blaze of anger. Happy are all who take refuge in God!
Looking forward to your thoughts and comments about this discussion!