Christian Nation

I’m watching “Hardball” on MSNBC, and Rachel Maddow just said Republican candidates had called the United States a “Christian Nation.” Chris Matthews called her on this, expressing skepticism that any candidate had used that exact phrase. Put on the spot, Rachel could not name a time, date, place in which a particular candidate had called the U.S. a “Christian nation.”

But I’m sitting here with all the Web at my fingertips, so I could look it up. Here’s one –

John McCain: “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.”

That’s a direct quote.

Even better — Linda Caillouet writes for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

Government may have dropped the ball in modern American society, but religion dropped it first, Gov. Mike Huckabee told Southern Baptist pastors Sunday night.

“The reason we have so much government is because we have so much broken humanity,” he said. “And the reason we have so much broken humanity is because sin reigns in the hearts and lives of human beings instead of the Savior.” …

… Huckabee told the pastors gathered in the Salt Palace Convention Center that while the March 1, 1997, tornadoes which struck Arkansas were tragic, at least the devastation could be clearly seen from a helicopter. In contrast, he said, the catalysts for the nation’s recent school shootings — including the one March 24 near Jonesboro that left four students and a teacher dead and 10 others wounded — were harder to see but were driven by “the winds of spiritual change in a nation that has forgotten its God.”

I doubt there is any other nation on earth whose citizens get reminded of God with more regularity than this one.

“Government knows it does not have the answer, but it’s arrogant and acts as though it does,” Huckabee said. “Church does have the answer but will cowardly deny that it does and wonder when the world will be changed.”

The shootings were just one more wake-up call to the nation, he said.

“I fear we will turn and hit the snooze button one more time and lose this great republic of ours.”

Um, for whatever reason, the U.S. has enjoyed random mass violence since its inception. I can’t say that, on the whole, we are more given to random mass violence than we’ve ever been. But the Rev. Mr. Huckabee has a new book out called Kids Who Kill: Confronting our Culture of Violence. According to one review at,

Tumescent with quotes and references to support every idea propounded, the authors rely almost exclusively on conservative voices from William Bennett to Alan Keyes to Michael Medved. Few open-minded people could serious question the knowledge of these sources, but their pandemic citings and the under-representation of liberal mover and shakers (and there a few who advocate such common sense values) may turn off those who ideology blinds them to the sapience of conservatives.

I know you’re all going to rush out and buy the book. Back to the Reverend:

“I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.”

He compared his entry into politics to “getting inside the dragon’s belly,” adding, “There’s not one thing we can do in those marbled halls and domed capitols that can equal what’s done when Jesus touches the lives of a sinner.”

The most basic unit of government is not the city council, quorum court or state legislature, Huckabee said. “It is Mom and Dad raising kids and teaching them respect for authority, others and God.”

The nation has descended gradually into crisis, Huckabee said, and repairing the damage needs to be gradual, too. He said the solution is simple: faith in Christ.

Yes, we know how well that works.

Update: More Christian nationalism.

Update 2: Pastor Dan begins a series on theological questions to ask the candidates. I’ll get excited when there’s a candidate who can explicate the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.

15 thoughts on “Christian Nation

  1. More than a few American Christians fervently believe that the fouding fathers intended to say ‘Freedom of Christianity’ but it was recorded ‘Freedom of Religion’ by mistake. For once, I will not impose my opinion but quote from Thomas Jefferson on the subject in a letter to Albert Gallatin:

    “And you May remember to have heard that when the act for Religious Freedom was before the Virginia Assembly, a motion to insert the name of Jesus Christ before the phrase, “the author of our holy religion”, which stood in the bill, was rejected, although that was the creed of a great majority of them. — ”

    Now, TJ does not speak for ALL the founding fathers, and the Virginia Assembly was not the Continental Congress, but this is the most direct quote I can find which speaks to the frame of mind that legislators, including the founding fathers had on the subject of religious tolerance of non-christian sects.

  2. “we have so much broken humanity”

    That broken humanity has been in the White House and Congress for the past seven years. We were much less broken before the Republicans took control. Now, we are so broken, we may not be able to put us back together. My theory is that the hatred and the violence began with conservative talk radio.

  3. I’m just tired of it all. The pandering to the Christian conservative wing outshouts the important issues that need to be addressed. This has got to be the stupidest presidential race I’ve experienced and I’ve been around since Eisenhower, so that’s saying something. Even Christians of my acquaintance here in Georgia are sick of George, but they will still be fooled by candidates who claim to have a direct line to God.

  4. Republican’s used religion to further their corporatist aims. They claimed they were the party of God to get people to go along with what was against their better interest’s. They used “Family Value’s” to get good value for their corporatist puppet-master’s.
    Now, having cynically released the genie from its bottle, they can’t put it back. The corporatist wing of the Wingnut party want’s Mitt. The religious wing of the Wingnut’s want Huck.
    Unfortunately, the rest of this country has to deal with this genie, too.

    The Founding Father’s seperated church from state for a reason: They saw the blood spilled in Europe’s holy war’s. And over what? A being no one has seen, but many claim to know. And claim that their knowledge of this being that no one has seen is superior to all others. And for this millions died?
    I’d rather people die in wars over ice-cream flavor’s. At least I know ice-cream exists. Should I torture and kill millions to prove that vanilla is superior to chocolate – and to Cherry Garcia, a true DFH abomination? Or, should I let you lick what (and whom) you like?

    This country is in a race with itself to go back to the Puritan “City on a Hill” days, when witches were tortured to confess and name other’s, and a birth mark could cause you to be set aflame like a Zippo lighter.
    Ah yes, the Wingnut good old day’s… “She’s a witch! Burn her!!!”

  5. If Pastor Huckabee believes we have so much violence because we are fallen sinful people and we need to get back to God, explain how relatively irreligious countries like Japan and much of Western Europe have much lower violence rates than we do. “Christinized countries”, including the US but also much of converted central Africa and South Africa have numbing violence?

  6. One minor correction about the Salem Witch Trials. None of the accused and convicted witches were burned. All but one were executed by hanging, and one was pressed to death in an effort to get him to enter a plea to the charges. Witch burning was something more common in places like Scotland and Germany.

  7. I have become so terrified by Mr. Huckabee and Romney I can’t even articulate an adequate response to their nonsense! Recently someone told me there is a shadow of argument in our first amendment regarding the separation of church and state, here it is from wikipedia:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Does anyone see any degree of complexity or ambiguity with it? Can you argue that this means government is supposed to be actively pursuing policies based on Christian ideals? Wasn’t our Constitution based on the ideas of the liberal European philosophers who first separated themselves intellectually from the church? Why are we going backwards here in the US? As a member of Mr. Romney’s “church of secularism” I have become confused! Can anyone help me out here?

  8. With the rise of the Religious Right there has been a renewed emphasis on the Constitution and its obvious Christian message. You can tell this by the Biblical quotations in the document itself, both old and new. Look especially at the Preamble where the beginning, “We the People….” is a direct quote from Moses as he spoke to the Israelites just before they smote the Amonites. In the original this is all footnoted but the Liberals in this country have taken all mention of god out of our documents so the footnotes had to be removed. snark

  9. I take offense to how derisively Bucky just referred to liberals. What is wrong with being a liberal? Do you have any conscious of the history of liberal political theory? Even speaking contemporary, what on earth is wrong with showing compassion for our fellow human beings and not just coming up with dynamic campaign phrases like “compassionate conservative”? Its things like this that make me want to move to Canada.

    America, love it, or leave it.

  10. Separation of church and state was hard-coded in our national DNA for fear of sectarian strife right here, not from strife in distant Europe. Read “A Religious History of the American People” for a more comprehensive view of how established religion ruled in most of colonial America.

  11. “the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.”

    I’m a Christian, I believe this–but what does it have to do with actual governing? Nothing as far as I can see.

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