At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Christian State Religion? No, Thank You!

It has been awhile since I posted anything meaningful here (some may argue it's been since I started the blog that anything worth reading has come up), but the good news is that I've had a lot to chew on over the last few weeks and I'm ready to share.

A short one today, and it comes from Warren Throckmorton's blog. Throckmorton is a professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, an engaging blogger, and a cultural and religious watchdog (his coverage of the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Church fiasco over the past year was worth its weight in gold). As the field of Republican candidates for the 2016 election swells in size, the public is getting polled on their takes on these candidates. Public Policy Polling surveyed 316 Republicans (margin of error being +/- 5.5 percent) on their assessment of several conservative issues and Republican candidates. Tucked away in the survey was a question, the results of which made me gasp (and made Throckmorton twist off, as well): 

Question 17: Would you support or oppose establishing Christianity as the national religion?

Sad to say, 57%--THAT'S FOUR OUT OF EVERY SEVEN REPUBLICANS SURVEYED FOR THIS POLL--said they would support that.

A number of my students would have texted "WTF?" to that. And they'd be right. Now I'm not a Republican, although I am an unaffiliated, Constitution-honoring, neo-libertarian soul who trends somewhat conservative (yet in a choice between liberty and security, I tend to default toward liberty). But no matter what, I would vigorously oppose such a measure!

Do we fail to recall that America is the first nation in the world to intentionally disestablish official religion from government, and that there were good reasons for doing so?

Do we fail to recognize what has happened to "official", established state religions around the globe throughout history, that eventually the marriage to official status and receiving the "smile of the state" saps the vitality from faith, reducing the church to an unhealthy shell of its God-intended mission? To wit, observe the state Lutheran churches of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, or the slow death of Anglicanism in the Church of England, or (further back) when Constantine made a cock-up of Christianity by giving it favored status (Yes, I just went there).

Do we fail to recognize that in an increasingly secular age, foisting Christianity to the head of the line by federal decree is counterproductive at best and poisonous at worst? That we live in a society that was intended to be a haven for people of all faiths or none?

Do we fail to recognize that to make Christianity "official" is to undo the mission of the Church, to skew from God's directives (see Matthew 28:18-20 if you've forgotten), and that it would actually weaken the freedom for evangelism?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a Christian, one whose faith needs to be more faithful and vibrant and impactful than it presently is. My issue is not with the tenets of Christianity, but with this notion of faith as status. I believe you cannot separate your faith (religious or secular) from your politics, but Church and State as institutions cannot be intertwined.

Christianity as the official religion of the United States does no good for the life of our nation. It does even less good for the Christian faith itself, and it flies in the face of God Himself.

The Church doesn't need government's help, it needs God's grace. Christianity doesn't need to hold hands with the State, but rather should reach out for One's hands that have nail scars in them.

Rant over.

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