Pastor’s ponderings

As I mentioned last week, considering this seems to be a time of year that we Americans are enthralled in displays of our patriotism, I wanted to spend the next couple of weeks pondering how this sense of patriotism intersects with our faith.  Last week, we discussed displays of our nation’s flag.  This week, I want to take a closer look at our sense of nationalism, especially as seen in recent months. 

            Now, I want to preface this with the fact that I was raised to be a patriotic American.  My father spent over 20 years in the Army.  My sister was born on Flag Day.  I was born just two days before our nation’s bicentennial celebration.  Now, my son serves our nation in the Army as well.  Everything about our family focused on what it meant to be an American, to be proud participants in the success of our nation.  Today, this sense of patriotism, once seen in a vast multitude, seems to be being replaced by a sense of nationalism.  In fact, Christian nationalism has been on the rise for many recent years.

            Today, there are a lot of perspectives on Christian nationalism.  Rev. Ryan Dunn noted, “Christian nationalism makes an idol of the nation – the country becomes an interchangeable object of worship.  We believe we serve God by serving the country.  Dr. David W. Scott noted, “Christian nationalism identifies the nation with God’s will and action in the world; conflates national and Christian identity…”  Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez noted that Christian nationalism adheres to “the belief that America is God’s chosen nation and must be defended as such” ( ).

            So, if we elevate the land to be on par with God in our perceptions of what is important, how are we crossing over the boundaries of separation of church and state that so many also believe in?  If we want America to be a Christian nation, are we going against our own beliefs of freedom of religion as contained in the First Amendment to the Constitution?

            The National Council of Churches noted, “to assume that ‘religion and politics are separate’ is to leave the future of the nation in the hands of zealous ideologues and those with privilege and power.”  In other words, it cannot be separate, but must be intertwined, lest something go dramatically wrong.  However, they also caution that “theologically, Christian nationalism elevates the nation, or a particular concept of the nation, to a role closely aligned with God” ( ).

            So, the pondering continues:  are we making Christians of Americans or Americans of Christians?  Where is the separation?  Where is the similarity?

                                                            Pondering and praying,

                                                            Pastor Steve

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