The Rise of the American Jesus
New Face of Peace
The Single Banner
When it comes to what can be viewed as the what we see is a movement that hasn't been around in this country for that long. Prior to the election of Ronald Reagan, when it came to religious voting things where different. Many people tended to vote for people of the same faith instead of going with the blanket term "Christianity". This means the Catholics, Protestants and every other domination voted in a different manner. With Reagan, all of these offshoots merged into one that ending up evolving into a very powerful minority block. Nationalist Jesus
With the new creation of this voting block also came the creation of a new form of Christianity, the American Jesus, if you will. This unique spin has lead to what can best be described as a pro-theocracy movement. To help Reagan win the election from carter, the Constitution became an equivalent to the bible, and the Founding Fathers are on par with Moses. While most of the time these groups have been claiming that god and country are one and the same, the truth is much different. The government that exists within the United States was put into place for very logical reasons. secular
Purges By The Church Of England
Understanding the Church of England
The time of the American Revolution was a world where the shackles of the middle ages where being thrown off. The colonies of the England, which made up the start of the country, represented a very small portion of the European colonies. While England expanded on the East Coast of the United States, Spain, France, and Russia where looking to carve out their own spots. With these different nations came different religious systems. France and Spain where both Catholic states and as such answered to the Pope. The colonies of England where subject to the Church of England, which is entirely different than the other systems.
The Church of England had the Monarchy as its leader. This meant that what ever the leader decided to do with either the military or the church they could. Over the years the faith of the Church of England, each time normally leading to a purge of the previous leaders. Mary Tudor earned her nickname "Bloody Mary" for the protestant purge that happened shortly after she took control. The Church of England was viewed by many of the time as one more tool of oppression used by the king.
The "Wholesome" Christian Beginnings
Remembering that Christianity is in fact a diverse blanket term is important when it comes to understanding the growth of the extreme trend that has been occurring. Not everyone who was in the original colonies followed the same belief system, and in many cases this lead to fatal tension. The Puritans who where by the book and can be viewed as an ultra conservative sect, where known to use violence against any ground that disagreed with their views. While most history books when this fact is brought up tend to focus on the native massacres that occurred, they where many cases of rival colonies experiencing the same fate. As the colonies grew the number of Puritan attacks had dropped, especially afterKing Philips War. This didn't change the fact that many other colonists distrusted the ultra-religious group.
The Battle For The Wall Keeps Growing
Separation of Church and State
The Separation of Church and State is something that was established at the forming of the country. There is no evidence that has supported any claim of country being established as a Christian nation. Locke who developed the concept of the social contract believed that in order for man to be free he must not be locked into a dogmatic state. The authority that religion demand was something that the state would never be capable of delivering. The founding fathers established what the commonly refereed to as a wall that allow for both religion and government to never interfere with each other.
This wall has been well established over the years. Over the years presidents such as Thomas Jefferson have had to constantly explain the concept of it to various religious entities. The concept of having the keep them separate in order to establish freedom. For some these letters might not be enough as they are not "official" laws. In the treaty of Tripoli John Adams (who was one of the most religious of the founding fathers), stated that in no way was the United States a Christian nation and that all faiths are respected equally. Besides for some obscure out of context quotes, it is difficult to argue otherwise.
How many groups are there like this today?
The Red Scare
The extreme elements that we have been seeing form around this patriotic Jesus can be seen in the early days of the anti-communist movement. Crafty smears such as referring to the USSR as "godless" allowed for these groups to become united against a common enemy. The more intense the Cold War got, so too did the extreme mentality. During the Reagan years we would see this new group solidify itself and gain the support that it needed to recreate almost an entire belief system. If you are someone who disagrees with the notion that America is a christian you end up finding yourself also be lumped into the same category as a communist.
Freedom Of Religion?
Culture War And Programming
For many this trend is nothing more than a culture war that is going on right now. The Cold War generation is refusing to give up the fight which in turn is causing this rift. Is this really what is going on however? With many groups such as IS getting the bulk of the recruitment from a younger generation, it seems more like a much larger connection than a simplified idea of just a culture war. During the height of the Cold War we say the weaponization of religion with groups such as the Muaja Hadini. While in places like Afghanistan where becoming extremists to repeal the Soviets, on the American front people where finding the same calling just with a different piece of religion. The propaganda of McCarthy planted a seed that has turned what some call a religion of peace and instead turned into just one more cog in a giant war machine that is never ending.
The founders of the country saw a similar trend play out in Europe which lead them to take precautions to make sure that it wouldn't happen over here. While the fight has been one that so far has kept the wall up, the increase in the nationalist aspect could end up tipping the scales. Nationalism is something that on its own has the power to change a country. When you mix that with religious dogma it becomes something that is a unique beast all its own. The increase in power this group has could lead to policy making, or like we have seen already, great violence against others that they deem to be a threat. The people who are attracted to these kind of groups are not the normal citizen. These are people who while looking for a higher calling became seduced by a leader who played off of their feelings. This new form of Christianity is extremely irrational and is more of a double edged blade than anything else.
© 2015 Jon Peloquin