…For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.
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, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.
I find it so interesting that this mindset is so compelling. There is nothing in the New Testament about any sort of Christian nation, except for Christ’s church being a nation of priests. And that nation has no discrimination based on politics, geography, social class, gender, or ethnicity.
This Christian nation rhetoric is firmly rooted in trying to carry over elements of the Old Testament — a law nailed to the cross — into the New, and it’s no more scriptural than those who tried to teach circumcision to the Gentiles in Paul’s day.