March 2, 2012

Christian Nation: Love it or Leave it

Leaving school this afternoon, I headed through a drive-through for some greasy protein.  While waiting for my food, I noticed a SUV parked ahead with a bumper sticker that showed the outline of America, with the letters around the top:  "don't love it?  LEAVE IT!"

The stupidity of the bumper sticker struck me.  I am 99% confident that they were conservatives, and 100% sure that as conservatives, they spend more than a little time "bitching" about things American.  I am guessing that they don't like their black President, and they don't like the laws that their black President has signed into law.  I am guessing they don't like the programs their government does to help poor people (especially the black ones), nor the programs that back science and technology.

But they don't see their dislike of country as "disliking America."  Why?  Why could Jerry Falwell blame liberals and gays for 9-11, yet not be accused of "blaming America first."

The answer is why I hate the idea of a Christian nation, because those two in the SUV and Jerry Falwell believe that the country is theirs, and theirs alone.  They don't think America belongs to liberals, or to Obama, or to people like us.

There is such an odd and bizarre quality to it too.  "This is a Christian nation, and if you don't like it, you should just leave."  Can't quite connect that to the Jesus of the Bible, can you?  Reminds me of our extended relatives who bragged of going to Town Hall meetings with their Tea Party members.  Those, we can all remember, who liked to shout at their representatives.  You know, for Jesus.

Two thoughts.  One, this image I have posted before, and one that really needs no words.

Second, this great story from Fred at slactivist about a young girl in Rhode Island who protested the posting of a sectarian poster in her school.  Leave aside the debate over whether or not she should have protested, or whether or not the school should have allowed it in the first place.  Fred addresses that better than I.  

The young woman received threats--as you might have anticipated.
That’s a tribal response. It shows that, for these angry Cranston residents, this “school prayer” was no longer a prayer at all, but a tribal symbol, a tribal battle flag.
A prayer that included an appeal for divine help “to be kind” ceased to have anything to do with either kindness or prayer once it became an established, state-sanctioned symbol of privilege for a particular sect. Whatever that sect may have been about originally, its establishment as the official, privileged sect of Cranston turned it into something else — into the same thing that every privileged sect becomes.
This is what happens when religion is established and made official. This is what always happens when religion is established and made official. The privileges that arise from being the official, established sect become the entire substance of that sect. The defense of that privilege replaces every other purpose, meaning or reason for existence until it is all that is left.
My friend Anglican has often wryly asked those who claim us as a Christian nation, "so how Christian have we acted." It is a good question.  But one that is lost, I think, on people who believe in the "love it or leave it" America.  

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