Brace yourself. This video may make you laugh or cringe.

This sampling got me thinking about the general values of our country.  I remembered that a couple years ago there was some fascinating debate about whether the USA is really a Christian nation.  In the current climate of political unrest, I believe it is a conversation worth repeating.  What are the main principles and values that guide this country?

My historical analysis notices webs of influence created by our Puritan roots.  Our founding fathers- and mothers- were guided by Christian ideals.  Certainly us Christians are very vocal and influential in the political arena.  And, it seems hard to be “successful” in our country if you’re not Christian.

Yet, writer Jon Meacham suggests that “As crucial as religion has been and is to the life of the nation, America’s unifying force has never been a specific faith, but a commitment to freedom—not least freedom of conscience.”

Are we okay with people freely following their conscience to dangerous addictions, just as long as they don’t harm others and are having fun?

Thanks! And, God bless the United States of America- and the whole world! Amen!

  1. The USA has some questionable beginnings, especially in regards to the treatment of First Nation people. The Constitution and the Government were created to protect people from oppression and abuse in religion and government. The people coming to this country for freedom had an understanding that you can be Jewish, Atheist or Christian and you can also state your beliefs without being tortured, imprisoned or killed. Why does this need to be a Christian Nation? I may be a Christian but I have no desire for this country to be run by Christians or any other religious denomination or any corporations for that matter. Freedom comes with diversity that co exists within a framework of freedoms to speak, gather peacefully, create opportunities. Human rights and animal rights and the stewardship of resources are all our responsibility to uphold, care for and speak up for.

    Addictions exist within and without religions. Materialism is a result of Capitalism and our collective agreement that instant gratification and speed are more important than presence and quality/cost.

    The black and white image of drugs being evil and money given to churches as being angelic really is lacking in resonance for me. Drugs are prevelant in our culture within religion, within all walks of life, and the drugs are pushed by many different sources, legal and illegal.

    Money given to churches can be good and bad. Churches can be good and bad. They are institutions. The people are the Church. Addictions can range from food, pop, tv, illegal drugs, prescribed drugs, anger, fear, prejudice, etc.

    I have met religious people who are brilliant kind and upright who have done drugs, who have serious addicitons and even who have hatreds that they have not dealt wtih.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Chan! I totally agree… It is way to complicated for us to really answer these questions, and it generally seems unfair to suggest that we are a Christian country. Certainly the founding of this nation was seeped with sin, just our actions are today. The challenge of this conversation is that Christian actions and philosophies have progressed right along with everything else in history. As there were prophetic Christian voices in the 1700 and 1800’s teaching about the immorality of slavery and the treatment of Native Americans, there are prophetic voices today who continue to claim that war and militarism and the destruction of earth is evil. Are we guided by people or institutions? What makes up a nation? Probably both.

  2. “Are we okay with people freely following their conscience to dangerous addictions, just as long as they don’t harm others and are having fun?”

    If they don’t harm anyone, why is it an issue with others at all?

    1. I guess that it is a question of how we define “harm.” I believe that our moral compass should be guided by love, forgiveness, peace and justice and other Gospel values. It seems to me that some of the major sins of our society are caused when people can’t directly see or know the people that they harm through their actions.
      For example, the use of illegal drugs certainly contributes to violence and oppression connected to drug trafficking. And, if I am not eating fairly traded organic foods I am probably hurting agriculture workers and earth.

  3. Our politics and priorities are certainly not Christian. We seem to be a very self-centered nation and are concerned about what is best for ME. OUr Christian faith calls us to care for the poor and marginalized; yet our politicians cut programs for the poor. Jesus loved and accepted all people, we reject other religions, especially Muslims, and immigrants. That does not speak of Christian to me.

    1. Thanks Rita. Isn’t this all frustrating? Right now the values of financial responsibility and stewardship and defense seem to be our priorities. Neither of these are driven by love, but by fear. Jesus said “Be not afraid” a lot. So, we may need to ask ourselves why do we want to be balance our budgets and be secure. Is it based in any sort of Christian value?

  4. gotta define what you mean by “Christian Nation.” was it founded by “Christians” not in the modern sense of the word, it was founded by Unitarian deists which would appall many who want to claim the US as a Christian nation (largely the religious right). Catholics were largely feared and regulated to Maryland. Quakers weren’t welcomed in Puritan states. was it founded on SOME Christian principles, i would say yes. but that doesn’t make it a Christian Nation anymore than reading the bible and using nonviolent tactics make Gandhi a Christian.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts!
      Ultimately, this whole conversation boils down to the meaning of words. I sure hope Christian means a follower of Jesus Christ. I think when I think about the influence of Christianity on history I think about the power of groups who were Christian by name, if not by principle.

      A lot of this conversation highlights the sin of the USA that suggest that we aren’t a Christian nation. I wonder what good values are related to Christian faith.