According to social commentator Bill Muehlenberg, “The fate of a nation is intimately tied up with its moral and spiritual condition.”
If this is true, would it be wrong for conservative Christians, within the parameters established by our Constitution and laws, to do everything in their power to take the lead in the political and educational and media and business sectors of our country? Or does the very thought of that send shivers up your spine?
In support of his thesis, Muehlenberg points to statements by leaders and thinkers ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Will Durant to Alexis de Tocqueville. He can even cite General Douglas MacArthur and Joseph Stalin to back up his claim.
MacArthur said, “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.” As for Stalin, the atheistic dictator observed, “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
Some sociologists have argued that it was the secularizing of America in the 20th century that lies at the heart of our national decline, while even non-religious educators have pointed to the destructive, anti-God mentality so prevalent in many of our higher learning institutions.
Why then do so many Americans have such a visceral reaction to the notion of a “Christian” America, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans profess Christianity? Why is there serious concern that Christian politicians are covertly (or even overtly) trying to impose a theocracy?
One answer is that some Americans are secular to the core, and they would rather see freedom from religion than freedom of religion. The further we are from God, the happier they are. For them, separation of Church and state means that the only legitimate place for religious expression is within the four walls of a church building (or synagogue or mosque).
Others have had it with “Christian politics,” even though they themselves profess the Christian faith. Among them is David P. Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Georgia. He writes in an op ed piece for USA Today, “Once again a presidential race is becoming a piety contest.”
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.