I meant to write this on the 4th but I’ve been so busy with my new job that writing just hasn’t been on my list. I almost skipped it entirely but there’s too much talk these days about “getting back to what made America great.”
As we all know by now, there are things the church in general teaches that I can’t agree to because I honestly can’t find the teachings in the Bible, nor can they be remotely inferred. I was reminded of one of these when I had to have a conversation with Spock over the holiday weekend which I hope will make him think not just follow along blindly (as I did) because someone in authority made a claim.
This claim, in case you can’t guess by the reference to the recent holiday, is that America was founded by Christians on Christian principles.
I was raised to believe that. I was told repeatedly that to be an American was to be a Christian and to be a non-Christian was (more than likely) to be a Commie. (It was the 70s & 80s, we talked like that. 😀 ) America’s Christian origins were extolled. And the dark truths of slavery and oppression of the Native Americans was suppressed.
As I grew older, I learned the truth. But it wasn’t until four years ago when I saw how damaging this claim is, both to Christians and to minorities.
The idea that we are a Christian nation, founded on Christian ideals should be offensive to all of us who claim Christ’s name. Would Christ actually condone the views on slavery or Native Americans that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers held? Would Christ have condoned the slave trade? Something America was extremely active in at the time of the Revolution.
If we present to the world this idea, how can we stand against modern slavery?
If we say that America was founded on Christian principles and by Christians, then we are effectively saying racism, slavery, and let’s all be honest about this, the rape of slaves by slave owners such as Thomas Jefferson, are acceptable actions by Christians.
Maybe this is the reason too few white people are willing to accept and understand the need for racial reconciliation. Maybe it’s even what drives further divisions between the races.
Slavery, slaughters, Reservations, segregation, racism, these are all a huge part of our history, and even our present in some cases. Masking it in patriotism doesn’t change it. Pretending “it’s all in the past” won’t help us move forward.
I talk to my kids a lot about the “good old days.” So much so that they call them the “bad old days.” I tell them about a time not even that long ago, when their closest friends could not have been their friends at all. It’s appalling to them. I hope it stays appalling to them.
But I worry, because so much of American Christianity is wrapped up in this Patriotism that I don’t think we bother to consider what we are really saying when we tell our kids that our Founding Fathers were Christians, when we make excuses for their evil behavior by saying that “well,things were different back then.”
How can we expect anyone to believe the truth of God’s Word, when we won’t teach the truth of these very evil things that persist to this day?
It’s not enough to say racism is wrong, as with all things that are wrong, Christians must be involved in the work that rights the wrongs.
Why? Because this sort of evil is what ultimately turns people away from Christ. Telling someone that in Christ there is no “Jew or Greek” (ie. no racial differences) then extolling documents that kept non-whites enslaved and oppressed is hypocrisy.
Do I hate America? No, no more than any other country. I’m not one of those self-loathing Americans who believes that (insert country) is better than us because (insert whatever reason). But we in the church need to start being honest about the past. We need to be open to the truth that there are still major problems in our country in regards to racism and bigotry.
We can’t do that by wrapping the flag in our religion.