Bert Nye’s most recent letter covers several interwoven themes, one of which is the notion of a “Christian Nation.” He references Gerald Nadler’s blunt comment, “What any religious tradition describes as God’s word is no concern of this Congress.”
Nadler is right. We have separation of church and state in this country, which does not mean that one’s personal faith should not be a factor in one’s political decisions. It does imply that in congressional debate one could not credibly use the “Deus ex machina” argument that God said it, so that settles it.
Nye quotes John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to illustrate his ideas. Adams might have agreed with him; Jefferson definitely would have disagreed. Yet Jefferson advocated religious freedom and the free exchange of ideas. There was a “strange bedfellows” alliance between Jefferson and the Baptists of Virginia, arguing for separation of church and state and for doing away with state funding of the Glebes, the residences of the Anglican priests.
“Christians against Christian nationalism” is an informal movement that warns against conflating patriotism and Christianity. In the U.S., Christian Nationalism includes the idea that this country is especially blessed by God, and it has led to arrogance, overreach in wars, to the justification of slavery as God’s will and in some cases considering people of other religions as not “true” Americans.
Bishop Michael Curry says, “I am 67 years old... Black... and I have known since childhood that the Klan professed to be Christian. ... Here was an unholy conflation of Christianity and White supremacy... often tinged with Americanism.”
Franklin Graham is a Christian Nationalist. Before one of the presidential elections, he stated that the one issue he cared about was the Supreme Court. He overlooked a multitude of sins for that prize. Was the prize worth the price?