To my friends who say that America must get back to our “Christian roots.”

2651529566_87eb235900 (2)During this election cycle, I have seen many calls for our nation to “return to God.” I believe, however, that it is dubious at best to suggest that America was founded upon Christian values.

In fact, quite the contrary.

Please consider the following Americans, all who suffered while the actions of their oppressors were protected by our constitution:

  • Africans who were kidnapped to America and subjugated into a life of slavery, their families torn apart, their women and children sold off.
  • The indigenous people who were expelled from their homes and driven with millions of others down a “trail of tears,” abused and oppressed.
  • Women who were denied the right to vote until 1920.
  • The “colored” person who suffered the humiliation of being relegated to the back of the bus and being forbidden to drink from the same water fountain as “whites.”
  • The poor white coal miner who lived a life of indentured servitude to the boss, and passed his crushing and expanding company store debt along to his children and widow when he died at 40 of black lung, completely unprotected by labor law.

Would any of these Americans believe that they were ever governed by a Christian nation? Would any of them wish to return to our “Christian values?” Would they believe that they had the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”

Please know this: all of the above suffering was completely legal under the laws of this land. Our government – our values – supported and perpetuated all of these injustices. Every oppressor, from the slave owner to the mine boss, enjoyed the protection of the law. Yet, the preamble of the Declaration of Independence presupposes that “all men are created equal.”

I love my country, I am proud to be an American. However, I don’t believe that it is or ever was a Christian nation. I find it inconceivable, considering our past injustices, to make this claim. Our great nation has come a long way since then, we still have a ways to go, and I definitely do not want to go back to where we once were.

If we consider ourselves followers of Jesus, it is now time to stop calling for a return to the “Christian values” of America, and start working instead to bring about the Kingdom of God, to which we owe our first allegiance as its citizens and subjects – even if this means that we must lay down our rights as Americans in order to do so.

The first thing that Jesus said about his kingdom is this: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

Jesus himself said that gospel is supposed to be good news for the poor. Therefore, as citizens of his kingdom, we should advocate and work for the protection and provision of those among us who are marginalized and oppressed. When we turn our hands to this work, we might be surprised to learn that we are the answer to the prayer that Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come!”

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