The following is an archival post from my previous blog that I just happened to stumble across yesterday. In light of the coming election, I thought it was something all Christians needed to remember.
While visiting Facebook the other day, I stumbled across a message from my good friend Celeste perrino Walker, who had recently written an article for Liberty magazine. In it, she makes reference to the continuing sentiment by some well-intentioned Christians who get upset because the Ten Commandments are removed from city halls or because prayer is removed from a public event. Here’s an excerpt of what she says about it:
“Regardless, at the heart of all such disagreements is the issue of separation of church and state, an issue that some do not seem to fully grasp and some do not agree with. But the most obvious question, surely, is: Why do we want the government’s fingers in our religious pie? And the answer, quite simply, is that we are far enough removed to forget what the government does to religious pie. We have forgotten the terrible sacrifices many people have made in the name of religious freedom. And we would do well to remember.”
She goes on to tell the story of two Scottish young women named Margaret who were drowned for refusing to say, “God save the King.” Theirs was the belief that to do so was to take the Lord’s name in vain. And they died for their belief.
Later on, Walker states: “As a Christian I would personally love to see the Ten Commandments on our government buildings, ‘In God We Trust’ on our coins, prayer in school every morning. I’d love to know that public school teachers could openly share their faith as part of their job. The trouble is that I know whatever I ‘gained’ in that area I’d ‘lose’ in religious freedom, and religious freedom is what this country is all about.”
Why do I bring all this up? Because here in the United States, especially here in the Bible belt, it is exceptionally easy to blur the lines between being an American and being a Christian. And I just want to remind everyone that they are not the same thing.
That’s not to say I am ashamed to be an American. I am proud, even though I am ashamed of some of the things I have seen American policy and American people do overseas and in this country. And I am equally proud to be called a Christian, although Christians have their share of embarrassing public actions, both throughout history and today.
But the most awkward moment comes when we mix the two, assuming that all Christians are Bible-belt Americans—or at least wish to be. We assume that Christianity means having an education and parking two cars in the driveway, going to church every Sunday (or Saturday) and afterward complaining about either what Washington is doing or the sermon that the pastor preached.
Christianity is multi-national. We need to remember that Jesus was born a Jew, never went to school, never saw America, didn’t speak English, wasn’t blonde haired and blue eyed, and very likely didn’t bathe as much as we do. But he is the foundation of our belief, the hope for all Christians, regardless of where you were born.
And the reverse is true. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a citizen of the United States, and the fact is that millions of Americans aren’t. But regardless of where they were born, they live here because they believe in what America stands for. Freedom to be ourselves.
Recently a link was circulated to faculty here showing a painting with Jesus holding the Constitution of the United States, surrounded by a variety of Americans who were either “accepted” by Jesus, or “rejected.” The biggest part that bothered me was the small group of “rejected” who included college professors, politicians, and liberal news media. I have categorical issues with such an image, and by now you should have a pretty good idea why.
You don’t have to be a Christian to love America. And you don’t have to love America to be a Christian.
But I am proud to do both. I am especially proud that in America I have the right to speak my mind, and worship God—or refuse to—in any way that I please.