This is a Christian nation: What that phrase really means. Part IIIby Don Lacey on Aug. 20, 2012, under Abortion, Armageddon, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Creationism, Critical Thinking, Education, Ethics, Evolution, Faith, Freethought, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, History, Logic, Power of Prayer, Question of the Day!, Reason, Religion, Science, Separation of Church & State, Skepticism, Terrorism, That's Life!, Willful Ignorance
In part I, Gregg listed four statements:
- “The United States was founded on Christian values and all are troubles are because we have drifted away from those.”
- “Christian values are founded on the rock solid principles of the Ten Commandments and they should be on display in public buildings and courts to remind us.”
- “All Christians believe the same things – those taught by Jesus Christ.”
- “I am a Christian and that settles the argument.” (Whatever the argument is.)
THIRD STATEMENT -
“All Christians believe in the same things.”
The official title of the Mormon Church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It includes the proclamation that its members accept and follow the perceived deity of Jesus Christ. The church also maintains that Christ allegedly visited the American Continent after his crucifixion to teach true doctrine to the righteous descendants of the tribes of Israel who then inhabited the American Continents.
Mormon doctrines in other areas agree with that of many protestant sects. In construction and management the Mormons closely follows an interpretation used by the early Roman Catholic Church in centralizing how scripture and “moral” law are to be interpreted and applied.
Yet dozens, even hundreds of Christian sects, evangelicals, main stream Protestant and Catholic declare Mormons are not Christians.
Until the election of John F. Kennedy no Catholic “papist” could be elected to the Presidency of the U.S.A. — because they would take their orders from the Pope. And were Catholics Christian? (Never mind the Constitution’s restrictions against religious tests.)
Schisms based upon both real-world problems and imagined theological discussions over the centuries have driven wedges into Christian beliefs.
To some, Baptists will go to hell, while to others all Jehovah’s Witnesses will take up residence there after death. Catholics know they are going to have to wear asbestos underwear if they wish to visit their Protestant Christian friends in Hell after death. They contend Catholics will be saved to heaven by deathbed confession and absolution by a priest even if the sinner was a cheat, liar, thief, adulterer, fornicator, and in most cases a murderer. Mormons believe only Mormons can get to “the highest degree of Celestial Glory,” (heaven) but you can join their church by proxy after death and get there if you work at it. They also believe only ex-Mormons can go to hell or “outer darkness” because they have known, and then denied the truth of the LDS Church and its priesthood.
Very recently the Christian designated First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi refused to permit their pastor to marry Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson in their facility. The reason? The couple is African-American (Black.) The Church governing body (local) felt that blacks should not be married in their religious facility. Why? Well because their Christian (with a capitol “C”) facility was for marriage of whites only.
For this nation it took a major war and constitutional amendments to give blacks their full rights after the fiasco of the 3/5 of a person and no vote compromise embodied in the original Constitution. Many of the founders knew it was inhumane, immoral, and abhorrent. It eventually led to the Civil War. Then it took another 150 years of struggle and constitutional amendments, the shame of Jim Crow laws, church bombings, lynchings, voting purges, poll taxes, segregation, and massive congressional action to drop the level of racial prejudice to its still unacceptable and inhumane simmering lower level of today.
But those who believe in the inerrancy of the Ten Commandments most often refer to their scriptures as the only correct moral guides. This, in turn gives credence to those vocal enough to use those “moral” arguments and language. They focus unknowing voters’ attention on issues that end up being used as wedges to facilitate the broad-brush insidious agendas of totalitarian control of information, thought, and liberty. Some even believe segregated church buildings are moral and correct.
To these Christian folks, unlike the Constitution, neither the Ten Commandments nor their scriptures are open to amendment. To them, as to rebels in the south during the Civil war – owning slaves and racial inequality, was and remains in the same inerrant category and is scripturally supported. It was, and is, to them a matter of State’s Rights being used in protecting a religious belief and opposing national unity on the value of man.
I said in an earlier part of this essay the Ten Commandments are a distillation of 613 commandments given through Moses in what is called the Old Testament. (Even though it has been revised, condensed, and manipulated many times.) Most Christians and their sects find the specifics of those 613 laws onerous at best. They tend pick and choose which their specific doctrines and laws they will follow. As we see in the case of the Wilsons in Mississippi, picking and choosing the way through these ancient moral codes and laws in the Bible brings Christian in conflict with Christian, and none will brook amendments to their beliefs.
Too often the fallacious claim of unity of belief of among all Christians frightens politicians into positions that do not allow for compromise or amendment if they wish to continue to serve in elected office. Promised Christian voting blocks are meaningful in winning re-election.
In past generations, the United States population dealt with major problems and programs by coming together for common secular causes like winning wars, getting out into space, creating highways, and preserving public health through regulation of food and drug supplies. Today those secular issues are being delayed and subjugated to discussions of matters best dealt with in ecclesiastical realms and in their member’s practices or in the areas of personal belief.
The resolution of these common sectarian issues should be happily applied to believers in the believer’s organized churches. But ecclesiastical matters and decisions have no place being forced upon non-believers. These include subjects such as divorce, abortion, death with dignity, civil union versus religious concepts of marriage, birth control, the use of Shari’ah law, teaching evolution, and/or unsupported opposing religiously based hypotheses.
The entanglement of church and state in education funding was demonstrated recently in the Louisiana Legislature when it passed a bill to fund religious schools through a tuition transfer bill. It was a little while before it leaked out how unhappy some legislators became when they discovered that religions other than Christian (for example: Muslims, Mormons, Scientologists and Jews) could receive those funds.
So, in this way, maybe all Christians do think alike. My late father used to put it this way:
“Hooray for me — the rest of you — go to Hell.”