It seems that in the last few years (especially since Obama’s election in 2008, for some reason), more and more Christians are speaking out against simple changes. Every time someone mentions taking “one nation under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance, hoards of Christians flock to defend the idea that America was founded on Christian principles. This rings true for almost anything that involves religion and the government, even at a local level. How many times have we seen high school cheerleaders on the news for putting Bible verses on the paper that football players run through before a game? And of course, there’s always the “evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools because it defies creationism” argument. But why are Christians suddenly up in arms about religion and the government? To answer this question, we’re going to have to jump into the past for a moment.
America has always been a nation that embraces religious freedom (and tolerance, for that matter). But let’s be honest, Christianity has gotten more attention than any other religion in this country. God is in the Constitution, the Pledge, and on our money. While Americans hurl the First Amendment at anything that moves, the fact is that Christianity has always been the favored religion. This is probably linked to the fact that at the time of its inception, the U.S. was basically covered in Christianity.
When the founding fathers wrote the Constitution, they made sure to emphasize that every citizen in America has the right to practice (or not practice) any religion they choose. Sadly, I hear too many people say that the founding fathers “wanted to establish Christianity as the official religion of the United States,” and that’s why they put freedom of religion in the First Amendment. But the fact is, none of us were there and we don’t have any idea what they were trying to accomplish. For all we know, the founding fathers wrote the First Amendment so that they could give chocolate cake sacrifices to dragons and the tooth fairy. The idea that we can stand here over 200 years later and say, “these guys were thinking X, Y, and Z before any of us were born,” is completely idiotic. It’s an argument that I’ve heard time and time again, but it’s completely pointless to assume that we know what the founding fathers were thinking.
That notwithstanding, it’s painfully obvious that Christianity more or less dominated the early America as we know it. So while we’ll never know for sure, we do know that America was mostly Christian at the time the Constitution was written. This carried on through a few centuries.
It’s still unclear, at least to me, what caused this sudden change in the church-and-state attitudes. Still, a fair number of Christians always argue that this country is “straying from the path of God,” which is ironic when we really get down to it. Any hint of a change in government policy towards religion starts a mini holy war between Christians and members of several other faiths (and of course atheists as well). There’s only one reason for this: familiarity.
Christians are used to getting what they want when it comes to religious perks in America. It’s always been this way, at least until recently. The problem is that, as of late, more and more people are speaking out against this. In essence, Christians are like the first kid in the sandbox. Suddenly other kids are coming along, and taking the community toys away from them. That makes the Christian kid sad, so he starts crying and calling the other kids doodie faces. Christians can pettifog the issue all they want, but the facts don’t lie. How many times does God show up throughout our government? I rest my case.
So with Christianity being the teacher’s pet for at least a century and a half, Christians were full of rainbows and lollipops. But something (again, I’ll probably never identify this trigger) challenged that. It’s almost as if George Washington rose from his grave, looked at America, and facepalmed.
As much as Christians don’t want to admit it, we as a country do not accept every religion equally. Yes, Americans have always had freedom of religion, but non-Christians have always been looked at with negative connotations. This has been prevalent since the beginning, but here’s where it gets interesting. In the last few decades (or perhaps even before that), non-Christians have made significant ground in the quest to overthrow Christian favoritism in America.
In a nutshell, America was created under false pretenses. We claimed to embrace freedom of religion, but we were primarily a Christian nation. This went on for quite awhile, until something caused people to wake up and drink a cup of common sense. Someone, somewhere finally realized that the American government wasn’t being as impartial as it claimed to be. Since this realization occurred, more and more people have been trying to ensure that America actually lives up to its creed.
Americans are finally starting to wake up and say, “we’re not practicing what we preach.” The problem that Christians have with this quest is that they see it as persecution. It’s not persecution, it’s just a group of people trying to fix a 150-year-old fuckup.
“(Christians) have confused not being able to pray everywhere with not being able to pray anywhere, and they’ve confused the loss of absolute power with persecution.”
I especially love this quote from Jon Stewart. It more or less sums up the entire argument that Christians have been trying to win for years: the existence of a threat to Christianity in the government. Contrary to popular belief, removing “one nation under God” from the Pledge isn’t going to discredit Christianity as a religion. Yes, it will upset millions of Americans, but it honestly shouldn’t have been there to begin with. If we’re going to say that the government won’t establish an official religion, it has to remain completely detached from any faith, and that includes Christianity.
So in closing, there are two options here. We can either remove Christianity from the government completely, or change the Bill of Rights. Since the latter would cause even more chaos than the former, the safest option is to de-religify the government. It might sound like a crazy and blasphemist idea to a lot of Christians, but it’s only logical. The Constitution that Christians cling to so heavily (or as I like to call it, the Christitution) also calls for a complete separation of church and state, which clearly isn’t happening now. Christianity has to start playing by the rules, and it’s high time we realize that.