Friday, January 16, 2015

What If the United States Really Was a Christian Nation?

Let's pretend the United States really was the Christian nation that the fundamentalist social conservatives and religious rightists claim it is for just a moment.


Seriously, let's just take them at their word and assume that they're right:  the United States actually is a Christian nation.


So, does America the Christian Nation live up to its lofty religious beliefs?


America, as a sovereign nation, has never once in its history actually acted according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as depicted in the Bible.  Not once.  Oh, sure, America as a nation sends a miniscule percentage of its vast and awesome wealth in aid to assist this or that third world country currently suffering from poverty, rampant disease, and natural disasters, but the very same fundamentalist conservatives who insist that this is a Christian nation want to put an end to that practice, and want to end it yesterday!


The truth is that the primary impulse from most funamentalist Christians in this country has been explotative selfishness, and this has been true since before we actually existed as the United States.


The first colonists from England had barely just arrived to the shores of the New World when they started stealing and murdering the indigenous inhabitants.  You know, that's pretty much the way the Hebrews acted when they entered the land of Canaan now that I think about it.  So perhaps we can call this behavior "biblical", but not "Christian."  Anyway, these English so-called Christian pilgrims quickly expanded their program of exploiting and subjugating the natives, promoting superstition and fear, murdering "witches" (a fad that they shared with a lot of fundamentalist Christians of their day) and establishing, via the Dutch, a lively trade with certain African warlords for that all-important commodity for their burgeoning empire:  cheap labor in the form of slaves.


And when they weren't murdering the natives, hanging and stoning people for being witches, or whipping their slaves into obedience, these enterprising "followers of Christ" were busily chopping down every tree they could find and shooting every animal they came across; both trees and animals were aspects of "nature" they believed they were given dominion over.  Again, we can see Old Testament style ruthlessness, but not a hint of the love promoted by Jesus Christ.


Adding to the problem is the fact that the rise of the corporations as a power bloc in America began almost as soon as the country was founded.  The very same folks that Jesus tossed out of the temple in Jerusalem, the people he warned had as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel had to passing through the eye of a needle, had already taken control of the government and were steering the brand new nation toward their own personal destination:  the Land of Eternal Greed.


This version of America is the same one that is still present today, what with its celebration of filthy rich celebrities who are famous for being filthy rich celebrities, its millionaire athletes, and its lineup of corporate titans who, despite having more money than they could ever hope to spend, drive themselves to acquire more and more and more.  Because enough is never really enough.  This nation is quite apart from any sort of Christian ideal.


The successful conquest of the United States by the corporations ended any concept of the American public concentrating en masse on thoughts of philosophy, art, science, love, or religious devotion.  These things would still be pursued by a few, but the overwhelming majority were lured into another way of living:  that of "consume consume consume."


Jesus said, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." (That's Luke 3:10, just so you know.)  The corporations say, "If you've only got two tunics, you're worthless; what you need are a dozen of those things!  Get to a mall, now!"  Nothing is too childish, nothing is too silly, nothing is too meaningless to be obsessed over until you purchase it, at which point you'll be told that what you really need isn't what you just bought, but something you need to buy next.  And of course, while you're engaged in this endless cycle of purchase, purchase, purchase, your mind is far, far away from any sort of actual enlightening thought or activity.


Such is the real religion of the United States of America.


Currently, America is exporting some of the most dangerous products in the history of the world, including predatory business ideals, banking practices that highly resemble Mafia protection rackets, and industrial practices that are just short of criminal.  We send pesticides and herbicides oversees that are so toxic we've forbidden their use within the borders of the United States (apparently the rest of the world doesn't matter much).  This, too, is the product of the corporate domination of America.  And yet, we never hear a peep of protest from would-be Christians against this sort of "missionary work" as their so-called "Christian nation" deals evil to the rest of the world.


Meanwhile, the American military-industrial complex arose that has never seen a lethal weapon it didn't want to sell to the general public at wholesale prices.  This has had an interesting effect on how the timeline of history has been portrayed in American textbooks.  History actually comes across as a continual cycle of "prelude-to-war", "war,", and then "prelude to war" again.  In its entire 238 year history (as I write this), America the So-Called Christian Nation has only been "at peace" (by which I mean, not fighting anyone at all) for only about 10 years or so.


In only the last 75 years, the United States has carpet bombed Europe, dropped two nuclear weapons on inhabited cities, rained bombs and napalm and agent orange all over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, invaded tiny nations like Grenada and Panama that had no hope of standing up to us, and then proceeded to dump "shock and awe" all over Iraq and Afghanistan.  The level of justification used for these actions varied from definitely necessary to not necessary whatsoever, but regardless of justification, "peace through warmongering" is the precise opposite of what Jesus taught.


It is clear, based on America's culture of consumption and endless military adventurism that America is about as far from being a Christian nation as it can be.  The only time that America ever strayed into the actual ideological territory championed by Jesus in the Bible was when it tries to take care of, and expand the rights and dignity of the disenfranchised and abused:  the poor, women, children, people of color, Native Americans, immigrants, gay, lesbian, and transgender people, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the oppressed, and the hungry.  In other words, those outsiders that Jesus Christ said would eventually "inherit the earth."


America has a special term for such people.  We call them We the People...

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