A few weeks ago I happened to be watching C-Span on the old television set and Michelle Goldberg was talking in a church about her book, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.”
She gave insights from her research and interviews that the wall of separation between church and state is not so secure. One reviewer said the wall separating church and state is more like a rusty, chain-link fence, poorly maintained and full of gaps.
I know from experience that today’s private Christian schools and many churches are actively teaching against such a wall. One Dallas radio host called it a myth, a term often used on Trinity Broadcasting Network programs.
Journalist Goldberg calls the growing movement Christian nationalism. She writes: “The motivating dream of the movement is the restoration of an imagined Christian nation.”
These Christian fundamentalists are not just against abortion and same-sex marriage and wanting “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. They want to create in America a theology that puts the Bible and the Ten Commandments above our Constitution. They believe Christians have a right to rule this land because the founding fathers were Christians.
It was not so long ago the Texas Republican Party declared in its 2004 platform that the United States “is a Christian nation.”
First, all the founding fathers were not Christians. They were mostly God-fearing men who wanted people to have the choice to worship as they chose. No state church or church activities paid for with tax dollars.
Second, this country was founded to be a free land with no one religion in charge. Good morals are the same for any religion or no religion. The wisdom of God is not partial (James 3:17).
This tax money thing has breached the wall since George W. Bush became president. Goldberg notes that in March, 2005, President Bush told a conference of religious leaders that the government had given out $2 billion in grants to faith-based groups. In 2004 an additional $1.7 billion went to these churches and groups.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon (remember the Moonies?) through his Unification Church out of Korea and Washington, D.C., is among those receiving the grants. Moon’s cult is well-know and unfortunately doing well.
There are those who want to establish a Bible-based republic where the land will be prepared for a thousand years of peace (and/or tribulation–depends on your ideas about the last days) just before Christ’s Second Coming.
This is not at the moment a widespread belief, but that anyone would believe it is frightening enough. There are daily doses of this kind of preaching on the television programs of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn and Rod Parsley.
A book Goldberg refers to a lot is Hannah Arendt’s 1951 The Origins of Totalitarianism. In her research Goldberg feels she has stumbled onto totalitarian elements in this fundamentalist/Christian nationalist movement. Our children and our churches deserve a more honest look at our history and a more attention given to peace instead of power.
Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.