By Dave, the WM
"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ..." The death knell to my Christian faith was sounded in the face of Christian Theonomy /Dominionist /Reconstructionist theology. Christian Reconstructionism seeks to establish the theocratic rule of God over America through political manipulation. Unlike the Baptists who led me to Christ and taught me that Christianity and American politics were forever separated, "The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." Reconstructionists and Dominionists taught me that it is the ordained duty of all Christians to aggressively inject religion into every aspect of the political process and into every political, legislative, and judicial decision. I know Reconstructionist Christians who currently hold political office in the Ohio State legislature. Those individuals do not hide their Christianity, but they do veil their overtly theocratic thinking. I am sure there are many just like them out there, holding various offices in state and federal government.
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State."
Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, while not technically “Reconstructionist,” have frequently preached a political message laced with Theonomic ideals. As a result of the influence of their message, it is considered “normal” in today’s America to have the electorate politically divided on personal moral issues such as abortion, gay rights, gay marriage, etc. Naturally we want to know as much as possible about the candidates running for public office, but are personally held prejudices about gay marriage all that relevant to a person’s honesty, ability to lead, fiscal policies, and so forth?
American Christians today are strongly encouraged to wage moral war against candidates that hold contrary views to an artificial short list of supposed religious mandates. If in every other area a candidate is found to be inconsistent, erratic, prone to exaggeration, or a blatant liar, so long as he publicly states the approved Christian opinion on gays or abortion, he can depend on a huge block of guaranteed votes from Christians. The candidate with education, the ability to communicate, political savvy, powers of negotiation, strong leadership, or any other positive quality -- should he support the rights of people to freely make private decisions on personal moral issues -- that candidate can count on being demonized by that same huge block of voting Christians.
"The number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state."
Interestingly, as Christians are becoming more politically vocal and seek to impose compliance to the supposed will of the Almighty, general morality within society continues to decline, at least according to Christians.
Why would this be? Why would the marriage of politics and religion result in a moral malaise?
One reason might be that by investing so much into the political "realm," Christians are making an tacit admission that Christianity has no magical transformative powers. If Christianity were actually infused with some Power from on High, it wouldn’t need to look to politicians for anything!
"I am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. ... We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."
Another reason for the lack of moral influence Christianity seems to have these days might be that Christianity is abdicating its leadership to politicians. In a word, Christians are being led en masse by political manipulation. Surely no Christian honestly thinks either of the current presidential candidates are “True Christians™,” yet because one candidate says he backs the illegalizing of abortion and the other candidate says such matters should be left to individual conscience… Well, it just seems to me that Christians are giving up their political options to advance a political agenda that is unrelated to genuine Christian faith.
The pulpit has always been used by religionists to proclaim sin and damnation, but most often it is used with the bottom-line intent of improving a Christian’s personal piety. Jesus isn’t purported to have talked much about controlling non-believers’ morality through the power of the government. Even Jesus' rebukes were aimed at the religious Jews, not at the Romans. For that matter, neither did Paul or any of the Apostles proclaim a theocratic message. "Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between Church and State." The pulpit seems an odd place from which to solicit widespread government control over morality within the hearts of the general populace. It seems to me that the pulpit’s power is better suited for admonishing the personal and private piety of Christians.
If Christians stopped to think about this a bit, they'd have to agree with me. They'd realize that the pulpit in a mosque is best suited for encouraging the personal and private piety of Islamic believers, not legislating the country.
Throughout history, whenever religion is married to politics, the inevitable result is the loss of personal freedom and the increased dominance and subsequent corruption of government.
"Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?"
Regardless of religious belief, do Christians really want government to be their conscience?
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)