We often hear talk of the US being a Christian Nation. This, of course, is an absurd statement. In no way was the US crafted as having a government whose institutions were based on any religious belief, let alone Christianity. The majority of the founders had, in fact, long dismissed Christianity, some like Franklin even despising its dogma, and were non-descript Deists who drew their inspiration of nation-building from the goals of the Enlightenment. One, however, can only speculate how their opinions of even that fabulously loose deistic god hypothesis would have been altered should they have lived long enough to have had enjoyed an afternoon tea with Charles Darwin, or peruse Dmitri Mendeleev’s first published periodic table, or discuss plate tectonics with Alfred Wegener, ponder the nature of stars with the utterly brilliant Cecilia Payne, or had the opportunity to sit beside Edwin Hubble as he described those receding smudges of light he spied through his telescope.
Christians, especially those of the fundamentalist, extreme right-wing variety, choose, however, to ignore reality and insist the US was and should be once again a Christian nation… and this raises the question: What would a Christian Nation actually look like? I posed this question to a number of people recently and none answered. It seems they’d never actually thought about it, and when pressed on the matter, collapsed into utter confusion.
I can sympathise with their failure.
What are unique Christian principles, and do any of these trump the goals of the Enlightenment? What would a Christian nation’s economic and education policy look like? What would a Christian nation’s science policy look like? What would a Christian nation’s welfare and social policies look like? Would this nation have a standing army, and if so, would it be expeditionary in nature? What would the powers of the religious police be? Would these officers of the Law police perceived moral behaviour? Would capital punishment be enforced, and if so, by what means? Stoning?
Would there be freedom of speech and a free media in a Christian nation?
One thing we could say with some confidence is a government whose institutions were based on a single religion would demand all employees and political appointments reflect that religion; so a religious test would be brutally enforced. Clerics would, therefore, sit on the Supreme Court, which raises the question: what would the nations Law look like in this Christian nation? Would Moses Law of the Pentateuch stand? Many, if not most evangelicals believe it does, like Gary North, who insists his Dominionist Christian nation would be a paradise where children were stoned to death in public squares. Jesus certainly said Moses Law stood, and would remain in place until heaven and earth passed away. Other Christians, however, reject Jesus’s command and follow Paul (the Paulanites) and use his words to say Moses Law was rendered obsolete.
Who would decide?
The confusion would have to be sorted out, and after the decision was made (or more likely, after the war between competing Christian factions was over), would the other camp accept it and live peacefully, or forever ferment in their fury? Provided the followers of Paul (the Paulanites) were victorious, what would a post-Moses Law look like? Jesus’ words recorded in the gospels are little more than substanceless poetic kites. He said nothing even remotely new, or marginally useful, so upon what would the laws be drawn?
Talk is fine, but let’s put some meat to this fundamentalists dream. If Christians are so adamant that they want a Christian nation, and believe such a thing is even real, then stand up and let’s hear what the mechanics of that nation would be.