The United States IS NOT a Christian Nation
By what criteria are we a Christian nation?
On what basis is this judgment to be made? Is it based on following the edicts of the Ten Commandments of the Christian Bible? Let's look at that.
Commandment ONE: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.”
How does this one hold up today? Well, I don't know quite how to evaluate this one, so I'll say it still holds. The only other “god” that I can think of which might be competing with a deity is MONEY. However, I'll let that pass. We'll say that Americans DO uphold this one.
Commandment TWO: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.”
Again, I'm not sure how to evaluate this one. There are those who might consider the love of the American Flag as an idol, one which we bow down to and serve without question, but I'm not sure if that makes it a violation of this commandment or not. I will say here that I am concerned about this commandment because it states that this God is a jealous entity, one who punishes the children of those who have not obeyed and worshiped him. That's not exactly my idea of a loving God, but I'll discuss this in a later chapter. Again, we'll just say that Americans DO uphold this command.
Commandment THREE: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Without knowing exactly what that means, “taking his name in vain,” I'd have to say that this is NOT one of the commandments which is being followed. If the idea is to only use the word “god” which referring to the “almighty,” then there are probably very few who don't violate this commandment on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I'd say Americans VIOLATE this commandment routinely!
Commandment FOUR: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
Regardless of whether we could all agree on which day is actually the Sabbath, not only the United States but every nation on earth violates this. Stores, hospitals, police departments, cemeteries, businesses, and every other know human activity happens every day of the week, every week of the year. Unless and until ALL activity stops on one particular day of the week, this will continue to be violated. Yes, I know that there are supposedly exceptions allowed for this, but those are interpreted exceptions, not specified ones. Americans DO NOT, HAVE NOT, and WILL NEVER obey this commandment.
Commandment FIVE: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
While it would be nice if everyone did this, though I'm not sure exactly what qualifies as “honoring” them. I think that it's clear this is not a universal belief. Does it mean that we do everything that our parents tell us? Does it mean that we follow in their footsteps, believing everything that they believed? Does it mean that we try to live our lives so that they are always proud of us? There are so many ways to qualify “honoring.” Certainly there are many, hopefully most, Americans who strive to live lives which make their parents proud, but I'm not certain that anyone has succeeded 100% of the time. That's human nature! I'd have to say that most Americans TRY to uphold this commandment.
Commandment SIX: “ You shall not kill.”
I understand that there are a number of words which can be substituted for kill when translating from the original Hebrew. That opens a whole other can of worms, but if we stick with the word kill, then there is little doubt how Americans stand on this commandment. Between the murder rate and death by DUI and use of the death penalty, not to mention the growing pattern of “conceal and carry” and “open carry” laws across this country which encourage people to be violent, the history of this country is clear. Americans DO NOT and NEVER WILL follow this commandment!
Commandment SEVEN: “You shall not commit adultery.”
No discussion needed here at all! Americans DO NOT and NEVER WILL follow this commandment, at least not privately!
Commandment EIGHT: “ You shall not steal.” Again, no discussion needed here either. Whether it's petty theft or corporate greed or public servant corruption, Americans DO NOT and WILL NEVER follow this commandment!
Commandment NINE: “ You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Considering the number of false accusations that have been made and continue to be made in the name of collecting rewards and furthering political or other agendas, I'd have to say that this commandment is being broken almost on a daily basis. As I interpret it, bearing false witness does not mean simply telling a lie; it means lying so that someone is done harm, either to his/her reputation or pocketbook. The most difficult part of this is knowing the truth. False representation or accusation seems to be a trait that a great deal of humans find useful. I'd have to say that Americans violate this commandment regularly, unfortunately!
Commandment TEN: “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.” I hate to seem like a real cynic, but there is no question that this commandment is violated on a daily basis by most Americans.
When it comes to describing the United States as a “Christian” nation using the Ten Commandments are the criteria, we fail miserably! Perhaps that's the wrong measuring stick to use. Maybe we'd do better by using a different comparison. How about comparing ourselves to the “man” for whom Christianity was named, Jesus of Narazeth. Might that not be a more appropriate comparison? If Americans are claiming that this is a Christian nation, shouldn't our actions (not our words) be in line with the example that Jesus set for us? Let's see.
Jesus taught tolerance, compassion, pacifism, love, forgiveness, and being non-judgmental, among other things. I suppose that examining world history since the death of Jesus and before the existence of the United States would be a bad idea. There have been too many wars and murders and too much hatred between countries and races and cultures to think that many of those people (non Americans, of course) could be considered true Christians, though there were many claims to the contrary. Perhaps we should just look at what we do today and what we profess to represent as a nation.
First, Jesus told us to “judge not, lest we be judged (not an exact quote but close enough).” Do we not judge people daily by the color of their skin, by their choice of spouse, by the church to which they belong, by the languages that they speak or don't speak, by the clothes that they wear, by their lack of education, by the mistakes that they've made, by their speech patterns, by the homes in which they live, by the jobs which they pursue, and by a hundred other things? We are a highly judgmental society. We fail this almost hourly!
Second, Jesus never hurt another person, at least not in any scripture that I recall. I think that he did go through the temple with a whip to scatter the money changers and drive them from the place that was supposed to be for worship. That is the only instance of “violence” that is attributed to him. Aren't we supposed to “turn the other cheek”? Something tells me that Jesus would not be a card-carrying member of today's NRA (National Rifle Association for those of you who wear blinders). I've often wondered how many of the core membership and leaders of that organization are also stockholders in companies which produce weapons and ammunition, not to mention military bombs and missiles. Maybe I should join and ask for a membership list, do some detective work, and find out the answer to that question.
Of course, the phrase “an eye for an eye” is also associated with Jesus, therefore creating a quandary of sorts. (Perhaps today he would say that the criminal justice system/police forces of our cities and towns should be the ones handling the “justice” angle there.) I can't picture Jesus with a conceal/carry license and a handgun tucked inside his robes. Jesus was a pacifist. He said that he wasn't sent to lead an army into battle to kill people. He was sent to be an example, a teacher. Surely the country with the largest military, the greatest ability to kill, even destroy this planet, would have a hard time justifying being a Christian nation. Of course, there are many who claim that only by being this strong can we protect the innocent and ourselves from those who are not “Christian,” who seek to destroy us. It seems to me that Jesus would answer, “Turn the other cheek; die in the name of God; a place in Heaven is awaiting you.” That sounds somewhat like what another great religious teacher told his followers, but we interpret it differently. Simply having a military is not a issue; it's using it to kill at the whim of our elected leaders which might be difficult to explain when standing before Jesus. If we were truly a Christian nation, we would not condone war or killing of any kind. That, of course, brings up the subject of capital punishment, a practice which still continues in many states today. How do Christians justify this practice? I wonder how many innocent men and women have been executed? That alone should disqualify the people of this country from claiming that this is a Christian nation.
Third, how does the United States stack up when it comes to being a compassionate country? In many way, I would say that we fair better in this regard than others. Whenever there is a tragedy or desperate need in this country, not to mention around the world, Americans step up quickly to try to help, either through personal donations of goods and service or through the donation of money that is needed. Whether it's in response to an earthquake or tsunami or other natural disasters, the people of the United States stand tall. The government of the United States doesn't stand quite as tall, but it does act if under enough public pressure. Still, there are examples of how arbitrary our assistance can be. We have been quick to send our military to assist allies when the threat is seen as affecting the flow of oil or people of lighter skin. However, a dictator who kills his own people without bothering us economically seems to be ignored, except for words of condemnation. Africa has been ravaged by so-called civil wars and internal problems with little assistance from the United States. I guess that if we were dependent on their oil or other resources of importance to major corporations that we would step in and use our military might to end the problems. I'm not sure if the United States, as a nation, can be judged to be compassionate. I think that, on the whole, the people of America would be seen somewhat more compassionate.
Those who claim that this is a Christian nation would be hard pressed to prove it by using the example set by Jesus as the test. While there are many individuals who might fair extremely well in this test, I've only had the privilege of knowing one who could come close. That was my paternal grandmother. She lived her faith and prayed for anyone who looked to be falling short of being a “good, Christian,” a list which included me. However, she never judged me; she only loved me and hoped that one day I would “find the Lord.”
Is there any other standard by which we can measure whether the United States can claim (by its people) to be a Christian nation? The only other one which I can think of right now is the statistical analysis of the population. After looking at many surveys and reading a variety of statistical charts, I can only say that we'd fail this one too. It appears that approximately 70% of Americans belong to “Christian” churches or groups. The rest belong to the many other “churches or religious organizations” or belong to nothing, affiliate with nothing religious in nature. While 70% will seem to be enough for many people reading this, keep in mind that being a member of a church doesn't mean that those individuals each live a “Christian” life or even do more than claim the association for any number of reasons. How many people are registered voters in this country but don't bother to go vote? This percentage might be a better indication of how many “real Christians” there are in the United States. During the last election, only about 58% of eligible voters even showed up to vote. Not very impressive if you ask me!
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