Singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks has been credited with lyrics that beautifully make very little sense. It’s sort of art as glossolalia. Landslide was an emotional interpretation of angst within her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham. The song leaves you wondering, what did she mean by that?
It may seem odd to look at Christianity as an art form. But its lexicon involves unusual use of words and phrases that are unique and have special meanings. Amazing grace, how sweet thou art. Who talks like that? In many religions, the garb hearkens back to a bygone era, and so does the language, as if using phrases from the Victorian or Jacobean eras lends credence to an established body of truth.
And following this arrow of thought, I have to ask: what, precisely, does one mean when one refers to the United States of America as a Christian Nation? I suspect that the answer is less than precise. Could it mean that it’s a nation with a high per capita percentage of Christians in the population? If that’s the case, then I agree completely. America is indeed a Christian nation.
However, I also suspect that this is not at all what is meant. It seems to me that the claimant is declaring that this nation is not only inhabited by Christians but that their group status conveys particular rights and privileges that accrue only to Christians; that it is akin to ownership of some sort, perhaps custodianship of this country with the charge of making sure that Christian values, whatever those may actually be, must form a framework that will lead to a heavenly kingdom here on earth.
There is the belief, both spoken and unspoken, that this country somehow has inherited the mantle of responsibility for the future of the world, and that future involves making the Christian religion ascendant over all others.
Although there are those fringe people or fringe cults who think that only a theocracy can properly run a government using the immense wisdom of supernatural creatures as a guide, most Christians do not go quite so far. They’re content to accept that things will progress according to the will of the creator, but of course in the direction of Christian principles being the root of all society.
And here’s the part where I inject a little reality into the mix.
In any modern society, it is my opinion that multiculturalism is absolutely necessary for progress. Any attempt at homogenizing the populace leads to both stagnation and an aversion by outsiders to either have to deal with the society or visit it. There are many examples of this, of course. Saudi Arabia is becoming more multicultural not as a result of western influence, but as a necessity of commerce.
The Founders of the United States were of varied mind – some anti-religious and some religious, but they came together to make a country that was welcoming to both. Of course, when I say Founders, I am not referring to settlers. The original European settlers were sometimes Christian and sometimes multicultural. The more religious of the groups, such as the hateful and draconian Puritans, have died out, while the more open and accepting survived.
And Christians today who might say that we are a Christian country must hold in their minds a picture of Christianity that simply isn’t accurate, for Christianity is composed of many thousands of sects that seldom play well together. Now we have evangelical Christians who have reached numbers capable of making waves, and claims, but they are most assuredly not a cohesive lot. And I think it is accurate to say that most Christians are only nominal – they do not attend church, do not pray daily, don’t really think much about the religion that they may claim to be a member of.
So we are what we always were: a motley melting pot that, rather than becoming more Christian is actually becoming more Hispanic. The suburbanites of the fifties would hardly recognize the country by the year 2050. The WASP culture is becoming the minority.
Perhaps it would be more clear if those who claim a Christian country would say, “I am part of a group of fundamentalist Christians who would like to do whatever we like without having to answer to anyone who is not Christian,” or, “I live in an area of the United States where you can drive for miles without ever encountering someone who is not Christian, therefore it appears to me that this is a Christian nation.”
The flaw in Pastor Charles Worley’s rant about imprisoning lesbians and gays behind an electrified fence so that they will die out is that otherly-sexed people are continuously born to heterosexual people. The supply never ends. And so it is with non-believers and non-Christians. Even in those places steeped in virulent Christianity, atheists will appear. We are as pervasive as the gay and we aren’t going away. And it’s our country, too.
“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing,
’cause I’ve built my life around you.
But time makes you bolder,
children get older,
I’m getting older, too.
I’m getting older, too.”
What do we mean by that?