Barack Obama is on the record as saying, "Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers." In response to this, a group of 41 congressmen have introduced House Resolution 397, a bill that basically says, "We are too a Christian nation, so there!" In the body of the bill are a long list of arguments explaining why and how our founding fathers specifically established America as "Christland," and it was only a clerical error that resulted in the name "America" getting into the official record. Or, whatever.
This is just the latest response to the increasingly popular notion that Christianity is under attack by the government, despite all evidence to the contrary. I am unaware of a single church in America that was surrounded by armed policemen this morning preventing people from going inside. Christians enjoy the same rights that I do to print their own newspapers and books, to rent billboards and advertise their spiritual products, and even to go door to door and spread the good news. The few restrictions that are in place are restrictions placed on the government, not the citizens. The principal of a school, as a representative of the government, cannot go on the intercom each morning and read the Bible to all the students in the school. But, that same principal, as a private citizen, is free to read the bible out loud to anyone in earshot when he's not serving in his official capacity. The man can be Christian, but the office can't.
This seems like splitting hairs to a lot of Christians. But, the "America is a Christian nation" crowd seems, to me, to be a little unclear on what, exactly, the central tenents of Christianity are. From a theological standpoint, can a government even be Christian? Does a government have a soul that can stand before the Lord on Judgment Day? Does a nation? Or does it all come down to individuals? It seems to me that the concept of group salvation is specifically dismissed in the scriptures. The notion that a nation can be Christian is as spiritually meaningless as the idea that a cat can be Christian.
The central dogma of Christianity is summed up in good ol' John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, and whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life." The contract between God and man in the New Testament isn't a group contract. In the old testament, the pact was between God and a collective nation or race. But in the New Testament, being a Christian is a contract between God and a specific individual. Your salvation doesn't depend on the actions of your neighbors. If you live in the heart of, say, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and your neighbor to the left is a lesbian wiccan who dances around naked in the pentagram in her backyard during full moons, and your neighbor to the right is a full-blown radical communist atheist with a hammer and sickle tattoo on his bicept, and the family across the street has just moved in from some country you can't pronounce, and you aren't sure exactly what their religion is, but it seems to involve doing horrible things to chickens... it doesn't matter to God. When the rapture comes, God isn't going to pass you by because he doesn't approve of your neighbors. All he cares about is whether you're a "whosoever."
I suspect I would get much less frustrated with the more vocal proponents of Christianity on the right if they would show some glimmer of understanding of their own religion. It matters not one whit to Jesus if America is a Christian nation. Nations aren't the functional spiritual unit that he cares about. They are doing nothing to advance the work of Jesus by introducing these bills. If these congressmen really want to spread the gospel, I'd like to suggest they've chosen the wrong profession. They might be more effective evangelists as preachers or missionaries. Their attempts to legislate Christianity into the hearts of their fellow citizens is just sad. If someone can give me even one good reason why they should be wasting a dime of their tax-paid salaries worrying about this, I'd love to hear it.