Monday, March 16, 2015

A Christian Nation? Since When?

There's no doubt that some irreligious people use Christianity for purposes which are not consistent with their religious rhetoric.

Princeton history professor Kevin M. Kruse has compiled some interesting examples of how “Christian nation” rhetoric was used in the 1930's (and subsequently) to oppose the New Deal and support “Big Business.” He speaks of these people as "Christian libertarians."

A Christian Nation? Since When? -

Opposition to government tyranny (such as the New Deal) is not inconsistent with the teachings of Christ, but government-subsidized consumerism (“corporatism,” “crony-capitalism”) is. However, saying that America is “a Christian nation” is not inconsistent with history.

Prof. Kruse says,
But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did. Back in the 1930s . . . .
He's a liar. The Founders did.
Not to say that America's Christian history has not been exploited by government and mammon in the secular 20th century, -- especially as Washington D.C. was deliberately secularizing America, and universities were scrubbing her history of all Christian influence -- but it is false to say that America's Founders did NOT intend to create a Christian nation.

In 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed American history going back to Columbus and declared that America “is a Christian nation.”
That America is (was) a Christian nation is a legal fact. Obviously the Court in 1892 was much more conservative than the Court today. Seeing the rise of Darwinism and secularism, the Holy Trinity Court took the opportunity of a case involving the Holy Trinity Church in New York to remind the nation of her heritage, taking up half of the Court's unanimous opinion with a review of America's Christian history.

A generation later, and continuing to the present day, Kruse says "Christian nation" rhetoric was used to promote “capitalism,” a term which in our day refers to a union between big government and big business. As Kruse puts it,
they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.
The relationship between Christianity and Capitalism was proven back in 1905 by Max Weber.
Other historians have argued that capitalism exploded as a result of the doctrine of “The Priesthood of All Believers,” in that merchants and businessmen were raised to a level of social respect previously reserved for clergy (and philosopher-kings).
Plus, The Protestant Reformation challenged the political power of the Pope and the “Divine Right of Kings,” which destroyed mercantilism and opened doors for capitalism (liberty) to flourish.
The idea that America was A Nation “Under God” was not invented during the Cold War. It goes back to the beginning, long before the people described in this NYT article.

Possibly Kruse would say that big government welfare programs like the New Deal are more "Christian" than laissez-faire capitalism. I disagree. Government “welfare” programs are impersonal acts of theft, not personal acts of heartfelt giving. They encourage resentment and violence.
I would rather spend my time collecting evidence that America's Founders, and Presidents like Ronald Reagan, endorsed and promoted Christianity, rather than collect the evidence that they were hypocrites. To say that someone is a “hypocrite” is an invitation to consistency. Merely pointing out a contradiction between actions and words accomplishes nothing. Prof. Kruse wants us to become more consistent with our hypocrisy; that is, not to become more consistent with our “Christian nation” rhetoric, but to become more consistent with our selfish, secular. God-denying actions. Where will those anti-"Christian nation" efforts take us?