From what I’ve observed, a lot of people I know are pretty happy that our new President has promised that the United States will be a Christian nation and that Christianity will have power under his presidency. Immediately following the inauguration, my Facebook news feed was filled with joyful approval that several people on the stage prayed “in Jesus’ name.” Many evangelical Christians are thrilled to see that Vice President Pence has been outspoken about his Christian faith and, as governor, worked diligently to sign laws that reflected his brand of conservative Christianity. On the campaign trail, President Trump promised that in his America, there would be no more PC-driven “happy holidays,” but people would say “Merry Christmas.” Within the first week in office, our new President assured the world that Christian refugees would receive priority admittance over Muslim refugees. It does seem he is working to keep his campaign promise to make this country a Christian nation. And a lot of evangelicals are patting themselves on the back that they elected a man who is making our country “Christian” again.
Never mind the huge difference between praying in Jesus’ name and actually living out His teachings. Never mind the difference between paying lip service to Christianity and setting policy that embodies the actual character and heart of Christ (which can be done without giving immigrants religious tests or giving preferential treatment to professing Christians).
Let’s say President Trump really is going to make our country a Christian nation. As a follower of Jesus, I must say that is a dangerous move. It isn’t in the best interest of our nation. And it isn’t in the long-term best interest for Christians.
- Our Founding Fathers never intended for the United States to establish Christianity as a national religion. Our country was never meant to be a theocracy (a
Without a doubt, the Founding Fathers were, for the most part, Christians (or at least deists), but that doesn’t mean they wanted to legislate Christianity. The very first amendment to the Constitution clarified that our country would not establish a national religion nor favor a specific sect of a religion. This was in contrast to European countries which had state religions. The Supreme Court has affirmed throughout the years that the government cannot establish a religion.Designating Christianity as the religion of our nation goes against the very principles on which our country was established.
- If we establish a government which endorses and prioritizes Christianity, we set a dangerous precedent. What if in 20 years the majority of people in the United States are Muslims, do we want them to establish an Islamic nation with Sharia law? If we set the precedent that the religion of the majority is the religion endorsed by the government and we remove the safeguards in place to prevent that from happening, then we set the stage for persecution of Christians in the future. We cannot be short-sighted; in the long-term, this isn’t in the best interest of Christians. Religious freedom is always in the best interest of everyone.
- What brand of Christianity do we endorse? If we are going to be a Christian nation, what kind of Christianity are we going to be? Catholic? Baptist? Episcopalian? If we’re going to legislate Christian morals and Biblical principles, which ones do we choose? I know Christians who think it’s sinful to drink alcohol. Do we bring back prohibition? I know Christians who believe it’s a sin for women to go off to college or have a career or live outside the headship of a father or husband. Do we make that a law? Do we write laws criminalizing divorce and all sex outside of marriage? Do we deny Medicaid for babies born out of wedlock? I know Christians who believe women should not wear pants. Do we forbid that? Do we require a tithe to the local church in addition to the government taxes? Do we scan tax documents and fine people who haven’t donated to the care of widows and orphans? That’s the purest and best form of religion, according to the Bible. I mean, the Bible talks about so many things besides being gay and having abortions. I would think a Christian nation would have to include all those things too. But how do we choose which Biblical principles to legislate?
- Maybe we should just focus on the job Jesus gave us. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said it was to love God with everything in us and love other people as we love ourselves. When I love other people as I love myself, I want for them the same things I want for myself – the freedom to love God and worship Him however I believe is right, the freedom to know God and grow at my own pace. I want them to have life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, even if their definition or understanding of happiness doesn’t jive with mine.And before He went back to Heaven, Jesus told His followers what His goal for them(us) was – the big picture of His assignment and mission for all the people who love Him: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Our main job in life is to disciple other people, to introduce them to Jesus and teach them to love God and other people (the greatest commandments).
Jesus did not tell us to establish governments that force people to outwardly live with hand-picked Christian morals. No, that is what the Church in the United States has mistakenly been attempting for far too long. Our job is to get to know people, one-on-one, love them as we love ourselves, introduce them to Jesus, and teach them His ways. (And, by the way, Jesus’ ways were the opposite of the “Us First” mentality and the “protect myself” mentality of a lot of mainstream Christians today, but that’s another post for another day.)
Instead of fighting for a government that endorses and prioritizes our particular brand of faith in name, why don’t we draw close to Jesus and love Him and love people and treat others the way we would want to be treated, living the “others first” life that Jesus modeled for us? Then we may end up with a country of people who know and love Jesus — not because the government legislates it, but because we show them a Jesus whose love is so incredible they can’t resist it.