There is an argument often heard from the ultra religious and echoed by their politicians that America is a Christian nation. While it was not founded as to be a specifically and exclusively Christian nation (an argument I will save for a later posting), I wish to address how this claim is not being followed using the Christian bible so that those who claim to be Christians and claim America as a Christian nation so adamantly, while ignoring the most basic of Christian tenets, will hopefully understand how they stray from the faith they claim to follow.
Most of us know that the Puritans who came here on the Mayflower wanted the New World to be as John Winthrop called it, “A City upon a Hill.” He said that if
“we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help for us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors of God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to become curses upon us until we be consumed out of the good land where we are going”.
We, as a country, have lost sight of this and are becoming like Cain after murdering his brother Abel. The wealthy of our country especially are like Cain when asked about how they are helping those less fortunate than themselves. They are like to respond in the same manner by saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). They are turning their backs on those who work for them as we see corporate presidents and CEOs earning millions while their workers earn hundreds of times less with many of them resorting to have to collect welfare or food stamps just to feed themselves and their families. They are supporting sweatshops where hundreds to thousands of children and women in poor countries slave in deplorable conditions to make goods that are sold for huge profits and those making the goods see nowhere near a decent wage even for the places where they live. There are people who do not have health insurance who watch their loved ones die or who themselves die for lack of money to pay for care; while certain politicians, many of whom claim to be on the side of Christian values, fight to repeal a law that would provide all people with healthcare that could save lives. Ironically, those politicians and their wealthy donors, especially those who claim to be on a higher moral plane, act like the scribes that Jesus cautions his disciples to be wary of when he said,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers”(Mark 12:38-40).
These people do just that. They expect to be revered, respected, and have the right to the very best while others suffer to pay bills and just to survive. They cry out that it is not fair to tax the wealthy who can afford to pay more in taxes. They also cry out that the poor are just lazy and should be able to help themselves rather than receive help from them. They make a show out of their charitable giving to those poor, but talk disparagingly about them when not in the spotlight. Look and see how generous that I am, is their mantra while their hearts are coveting more wealth that could keep the poor from their station in life.
Am I advocating that wealth is bad? Not in the least, but the greed of so many who have wealth and their desire to keep the poor down in their lives, is evil. It is not money that is evil, but the love of money that is evil according to the same scriptures that many of those keeping the poor down claim to ascribe. They say they believe in charity, but in their hearts, they do not.
They love money more than their neighbor. In doing so, they also love money more than God. If Christians are admonished to “love their neighbor” like they love themselves (Mark 12:33), then these self-righteous people either hate themselves or are being hypocritical in their faith. In addition, they—the wealthy politicians and their wealthy donors—cry about paying more in taxes while forgetting that Christians are to “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). If money is printed by the State, then it is right and even Christian duty to pay the State their proportionately fair share of taxes.
America cannot be a Christian nation as long as these wrongs continue to occur. Until the wealthy and their political lapdogs realize that with wealth also entails responsibility to care for those who are less fortunate, as they are admonished to do in the Christian scriptures, then the claim of being a Christian nation is a farce. It is a sinful, travesty of a farce at that. As John Winthrop ends his famous sermon, he states,
“Beloved there is now sett before us life, and good, deathe and evill in that wee are Commaunded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another to walke in his wayes and to keepe his Commaundements and his Ordinance, and his lawes, and the Articles of our Covenant with him that wee may live and be multiplyed, and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whether wee goe to possesse it: But if our heartes shall turne away soe that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced and worshipp other Gods our pleasures, and proffitts, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perishe out of the good Land whether wee passe over this vast Sea to possesse it;”
As a nation, we have been seduced to the worship of other Gods (power and wealth being the foremost) and the worship of profits over people, we are dooming ourselves to perish from our greed and self-love.
Is there hope? Is there hope that we can yet attain the status of being a light unto the nations? Yes, there is always hope. So long as there are those who fight the injustices in our country, there is hope. So long as there are those who stand up and speak for those who are afraid to speak or cannot speak out, there is hope. So long as there are those who defend the helpless and befriend the friendless, there is hope. So long as there are those who represent the will of the people rather than the will of corporate interests and greed, there is hope.
Where does that hope start for you? Are you willing to be a catalyst for that hope? Are you willing to be the spark that ignites the fires of a peaceful revolution for the betterment of all people? Are you willing to be the light that cuts through the darkness of despair or will you just continue to curse the darkness and, in your lack of action, be an accomplice for the darkness? You must answer these questions in the affirmative if the hope is to stay alive.