You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘America as a Christian nation’ tag.

My, my, my. The Church Lady must be having a field day. I refer of course to the old Saturday Night Live sketches featuring Dana Carvey’s judgmental and oh-so pious authority on all that is good and evil. She was always quick to call out hypocrisy in the “whited sepulchers” who frequented her show. Such insight has never been as necessary as it is now.

America likes to think of itself as a Christian country, though religiously speaking, we’re actually mutts — a mix of everything, from Mormons to Sikhs. Yet those who project — and protect — this “Christian America” image most fiercely seem most in need of a reminder of what Christianity actually is.

There is no Christianity without Christ. And to know what Christianity is about, one only has to access the words and deeds of Christ. This is not a case of “what would Jesus do?” but “what did Jesus do?” He embraced the outcasts and told us to feed the hungry and welcome the stranger, a radical reversal of the current state of immigration. Jesus, tellingly, put no codas, no provisos, on his commands — no clauses like “only if they speak English” or “only if they have a good job.” Indeed, he seemed most concerned about those most on the outside, most in need of lifting up.

Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty (written, I hate to tell you, Mr. Miller, expressly for the Statue of Liberty) comes down hard on the side of the outsiders — and, consequently, the side of Christ. To stand in defiance of the huddled masses longing to breathe free is to stand in defiance of God.

Oh, I know. It’s hard to welcome the stranger. Strangers are scary precisely because they are strange to us. Is every immigrant a good person? No, but neither is every homegrown American. It is simpler to draw ourselves inward, to turn our backs on the “other” and “take care of our own.” Except who decides who is “our own” and who is not? Who was the “neighbor” in the parable of the Good Samaritan?

I am not saying that everyone opposed to the welcoming of immigrants is a bad person. But neither is he or she following the precepts of Christ.

What I’m asking for is very simple: a little truth-telling. It’s time for a good scrub, America. Let’s wash out our mouths with soap and water and get down to brass tacks. Either we welcome strangers or we do not. Either we are Christian or we are not.

But we don’t get to have it both ways.

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There was a women’s march last weekend. Then, there was a backlash. (Of course there was a backlash.) Most of the content of that backlash centered on the marchers themselves — specifically, their looks. Certain male politicians characterized these women as “ugly” — a word often consigned to feminists — or “fat.” These men know how to push buttons. They know exactly how to hurt us.

And yet: To look at these naysayers objectively, it is clear that we are not dealing with young Paul Newman lookalikes. There is nothing beautiful, graceful or aesthetically pleasing about them. They are, as my mother would say, “as homely as a mud fence.” You could tell these men that, but they wouldn’t care. Because it doesn’t matter. A man doesn’t have to be beautiful. His entire worth to society — to the world — isn’t bound up in his looks.

But ours (as women) is.

Why? Why? The question keeps ringing in my head like a plaint. Because you see, I know women who marched — in D.C. and other areas. They are beautiful inside and out. More importantly, they are smart. Most importantly — and I use this adjective with the gravity it deserves — they are holy. Which is a darned sight more important than beautiful. Which is, in fact, much harder to obtain.

I vacillate between gentle, head-shaking wonder and furious rage when I examine the dichotomy between what we say we are as a nation and what we do. Politicians, especially conservative ones, like to call us a Christian country. But what would God think of building a wall to keep people out? I’m talking about the God who sent his son to say, “What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.” What would God think about denigrating whole swaths of people, trying — quite calculatedly — to shut them up and shut them down?

I have been told a hundred times to “accept” what is happening politically. To smile and accentuate the positive. But this isn’t about policy differences. It’s about opposing what I see as evil. I will never back down from opposing evil. It is my moral right — my moral imperative — to oppose it.

It is also my imperative to disabuse the notion that a woman’s looks define her. Until we are all judged by the content of our souls, no one here — or anywhere — is free.

Most of us, as young children, were taught to share. We shared our toys. We shared our treats. Someone, some adult, was always around to remind us that any largesse was meant to spread around, even if we didn’t especially want to. It was the right thing to do.

Nowadays, sharing has gotten a bad name. Sharing wealth, for example. I had a boss, a millionaire many times over, who opined that he didn’t feel he paid enough in taxes. He would have gladly paid more, but no one asked him to. Cut to the Koch brothers grasping onto their every nickel like a pre-three-ghosts-plus-Marley Scrooge. I know which side I stand with.

Sharing seems to be confused with that other “s-word” — socialism. Sure, one day millionaires pay a fraction more in taxes or poor children are allowed health care (a basic human right) and WHAMMO! Suddenly, we’re living in Nazi Germany (fascists, by the way) or Soviet Russia (Communists). That’s a totally different head. Totally.* It’s not going to happen that way.

Because being kind to others, especially those in more need than we ourselves are, is not only a Christian tenet, it’s a tenet of most religions. Do unto others. The Good Samaritan. Good Karma. Funny thing is, the people who are most adamant about America being a Christian nation seem to be the very same people who don’t want their money taken away in order to help the less fortunate, thank you very much. It’s their money, their business. They built it, with no help from the government — who paved the roads that bring their customers to them, or from police and fire departments that keep them safe, or favorable zoning laws or any one of the many things that help us all, because we have decided to share our resources with each other so that more of us can be prosperous.

Where are all those adults who obligated us to share? Where did they go?

When my brother was two or three years old, he tape-recorded his Christmas wish list, ending it with, “All for me and none for Lizzy (the little girl next door)!” He’s a grown-up now, and laughs along with the rest of us at his toddler self’s pre-holiday greed. But there are plenty of people who aren’t laughing. They still want it all. They don’t want to share. And maybe the government shouldn’t make them. They, themselves, should make them. Isn’t that what a Christian nation would advocate?

* To anyone who watched the great ‘80s sitcom “Square Pegs,” thank you for getting this joke.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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