Monday Meditation: Religious Liberty and Christian Nationalism

For a Monday Meditation to reflect on as we begin the week, here is a notable recent sermon addressing religious liberty.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11891
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Wow, Not one given definition of Christian Nationalism. Insinuations about it but no definition. Maybe a definition from a Christian Nationalist would help, or maybe a reference to someone who claims they are a Christian nationalist! Remember also that labels such as these should not be coming from the opposition to something. In other words, Republicans are not defined by Democrats. The ones that hold to the ideology have the privilege of defining their own beliefs! To books mentioned by political progressives likely don’t really represent what political conservatives believe. That is a sad commentary of books today but also the reality. In all honesty, what the political left mean by Christian nationalism is conservative Christians. Which frankly has a pretty good track record of religious liberty.

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Excellent sermon, please follow up with the rest! The term Christian Nationalism was well defined through out the sermon. I would suggest that some might not ‘like’ what was being said because the history of a national religion is being ignored. Christian endorsed religion has a bad track record down through history, many have died. CN may include conservatives but it does not mean they are the same and the sermon did not conflate the two.

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Here you go:

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Really so if Christians focus on internal politics in their country that means that they are trying to force their religion on others. Kind of a big jump in reality there. No there was in fact no definition given in the sermon. Quote it to me if you disagree. Being involved in politics is not nationalism it is the normal civics of this country. It is funny that in a sermon on religious liberty the preacher is against the Supreme Court decision that says a Public school should not fire someone because they prayed in Public. Even when the preacher recounted the story he lied about it and said that the coach gathered others to pray with him. He did not, other students chose to join him and even the other team joined him once the Progressives started complaining about it. It does amaze me when people say a sermon so filled with false logic is excellent. Sort of shows what some people think of logic nowadays. search the internet you will see that Christian Nationalism is mainly a product of the political left. Vox.com spends a lot of time on it. Where are the Christian Nationalists saying. I am a Christian Nationalist and this is what we believe. Not there because it is again a product of the left. We must fear the conservatives…you know those people who we say are racist sexist, homophobe (transphobe, Ilsamaphobe etc) Christian Nationalists are the monster in the corner for Leftists. Shine a light in the corner and there is nothing there!

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It’s not my definition. But, the article doesn’t say what they are just focusing on politics, but instead that they are trying to alter laws to conform with their religeous ideals. In turn they do this because they think the country is a Christian country, and so it ought to have laws that agree with their particular set of Christian beliefs.

I have no opinion one way or the other. I haven’t read it. You appeared to indicate a desire for a definition, so I posted the link.

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Sometimes people doth protest too much! Repeat: The sermon was about using the government to set precedents based on religious belief. All that I have read about Christian Nationalism uses the same definition. One can ignore that, but that is way it is defined.

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When we were younger we got Liberty Magazine. There was a cartoon in the magazine when I was 15, it said the following (paraphrase). Teacher: “Here’s Senator “so & so” who’s sponsoring the prayer in public school bill. Timmy, would you offer up a prayer?” Timmy: “Honorable Buddha, in the great beyond…” Senator: “Hold it”. :slight_smile:

If we are making unfettered public access to one religion then we must do so equally to all, even those we don’t like. Back in May the Supreme Court said that the City of Boston must allow a Christian group to fly a flag over Boston City Hall. In response a Satanic temple petitioned to fly their flag. The city of Boston then cancelled flag flying for all groups.

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Respectfully Ron, I would disagree. You said not one definition given of Christian Nationalism. While the pastor did not say: “Here is a definition of Christian Nationalism…”, he did define it. Starting at 48:40 “… enact the power of the State to make this nation Christian again. Make it moral again.”

I think that is a pretty good definition of Christian nationalism.

To your other points. If you consider yourself a Christian nationalist, feel free to provide your own definition to help educate the readers here, we all may learn something new.

Lastly, to your point that those in opposition cannot define what something is, I’d also disagree with that. We (humans) do it all the time. We may or may not be accurate, but it’s also true that individuals or groups that describe themselves may not be accurate as well. For example, if you are a capitalist you would probably define a socialist in a way that they would not define themselves. Arguably both definitions may have some truth but may also not be entirely accurate.

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Good I was going to transcribe it and you saved me some time. That is not a definition it is an insinuation.

adjective

  1. Provoking gradual doubt or suspicion; suggestive.
  2. Artfully contrived to gain favor or confidence; ingratiating.
  3. Winding, creeping, or flowing in, quietly or stealthily; suggesting; winning favor and confidence insensibly.

First what does it possibly mean to make this nation Christian again. Christianity has and continues to be the predominate religious affiliation of this nation.
To make it moral again: Is that bad? I think that is very good. Even in the sermon he referenced Martin Luther King who said that the church should be the conscience of the nation. So is that bad? I don’t think so, Is that the meaning of Christian Nationalism. Certainly not as it is not a definition at all.

Here is a good quote from a recent article: "Over the past several years the topic of Christian nationalism has occupied the minds of Evangelical intellectuals and pastors. No less than half a dozen books have been written on the subject in the past year. Three of them have been published in the past six months.

Yet for all the talk, I have yet to see a useful definition of the term. For some, “Christian Nationalism” refers to the movement by Trumpist Revivalists to take over so-called “evangelicalism.” For others, any conservative Christian socio-political commitment is “Christian Nationalism.” Because of this confusion, the term has become essentially meaningless, and so it should be dismissed by both historians and ministers alike."The Uselessness of "Christian Nationalism" - Mere Orthodoxy | Christianity, Politics, and Culture

A couple of months ago Spectrum had a link to several Progressives Zoom meeting and they all talked about Christian Nationalism and likewise had no definition but all seemed to accept it and like this pastor not one of them pointed to a single person who said they were a Christian Nationalist.

Christianity Today in their article on the subject notes this: “Christian nationalists do not reject the First Amendment and do not advocate for theocracy, but they do believe that Christianity should enjoy a privileged position in the public square. The term “Christian nationalism,” is relatively new, and its advocates generally do not use it of themselves, but it accurately describes American nationalists who believe American identity is inextricable from Christianity.” What Is Christian Nationalism? | Christianity Today

Isn’t that useful. The advocates of Christian Nationalism don’t use the term…so who does. Those who oppose something cannot be the ones who define it. The reason is that you can’t define something by how you disagree with it. Example: the definition of a pastor is a boring irrelevant stuffed shirt. That might be my definition and it may have truth behind some of it but we really should be using more widely agreed upon definitions. Capitalism and Socialism interestinly enough have pretty definitive meanings and both words actually popularized from the works of Karl Marx. So Capitalist usually refer to Free Market Capitalism, or just the Free Market.

PJmedia has a good article on the subject they say: " In identifying white racism with Christian Nationalism — a tiny, obscure group of folks influenced by, among others, the late Reformed theologian R.J. Rushdoony — French, intentionally or not, is following the lead of numerous voices on the Left.

Similarly, earlier this year, Drew Strait reviewed for Christianity Today the recently published tome by Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States . Strait all but declares the authors’ work to be inspired.

He notes, for example, the authors’ definition of Christian Nationalism as “a cultural framework — a collection of myths, traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems — that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life … the ‘Christianity’ of Christian nationalism represents something more than religion.”

“As we will show,” he explains, “it includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heteronormativity, along with divine sanction for authoritarian control and militarism. It is as ethnic and political as it is religious.”

If that last graph sounds familiar, it should because it encapsulates the Black Lives Matter/Progressive Left’s view of America as a Western colonialist nation ruled by despotic hyper-patriotic white males, who oppress women, minorities “of color” and the poor, all for their own “white privilege” and benefit." 'Christian Nationalism' Is the Left’s Latest Weapon for Excluding 74 Million Americans From the Public Square – PJ Media

As that article mentions there is a tiny sliver of Christians known as Christian reconstructionism see more at: Christian Reconstructionism
Those do or did, hard to say if they exist anymore most likely not a single person who listened to the above sermon have ever met one.

From that article about their tenants: “Christian reconstructionists advocate a theonomic government and libertarian economic principles. They maintain a distinction of spheres of authority between family, church, and state. For example, the enforcement of moral sanctions under theonomy is carried out by the family and church government, and sanctions for moral offenses are outside the authority of civil government (which is limited to criminal matters, courts and national defense). However, some believe these distinctions become blurred, as the application of theonomy implies an increase in the authority of the civil government. Reconstructionists argue, though, that under theonomy, the authority of the state is severely limited to a point where only the judicial branch exists (e.g., a criminal does not have any fear that a police force will break into their house at night, since, under theonomy, there is no executive branch and therefore no police force). Reconstructionists also say that the theocratic government is not an oligarchy or monarchy of man communicating with God, but rather, a national recognition of existing laws. Prominent advocates of Christian reconstructionism have written that according to their understanding, God’s law approves of the death penalty not only for murder, but also for propagators of all forms of idolatry, open homosexuals, adulterers, practitioners of witchcraft, blasphemers, and perhaps even recalcitrant youths (see the List of capital crimes in the Bible).”

One other article that should be read. First one quote: “The Left’s assault of the Christian faith is three-pronged. First, leftists seek to redefine what it means to be a Christian. Next, they seek to silence Christian voices in the arena of public discussion. Third, they want to elevate the ideas of non-Christians to change traditional thinking. Hard to believe, but let’s look.” The Left Hopes to Destroy Christianity by Changing It

This sermon above is very one with the above quote. It is removing Christianity in favor of political Progressivism. Progressivism is very much at war with Christianity. Progressives intend to redefine Christianity in the image of progressivism. And you thought it was just a sermon on religious liberty:)

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Well, I appreciate the detailed and thorough response. Quite frankly way too detailed for me, I won’t go through the time of debating all that you wrote. I absolutely would agree that there are many on “the left” (does sound like you have decided that you can speak for them and know exactly who they are even if you are not one of them) who disagree with the precepts of Christianity and do not wish it as part of American life (which wasn’t what the pastor said in his sermon). There are also others, not of the left, non-Christians, libertarians and others who may not be a part of Christianity and who aren’t interested in destroying but also don’t think it should be incorporated in either government or other public spheres, especially to the exclusion of non-Christian voices.

Lastly, in the CT article you quoted, you did miss the paragraph right above the one you quoted.

"What is Christian nationalism?

Christian nationalism is the belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way. "

If you’re going to use this very article to define what Christian nationalism is, I think I’ll leave it at that.

My last response to you, blessings for you.

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Idle musings

  1. If the pastor believes in a separation between church and state, should he be preaching about it, specially since his use of examples call out elements of one particular political party?

  2. While the pastor starts off by saying how glad he is an SDA because of our tradition of religious liberty; I’m not sure that is the case as much today. Here in S. Calif, I find our churches are now less defined by ethnicity and more defined by political viewpoint. Political conservative SDA’s tend to be in churches with others that have a similar viewpoint while liberal SDA’s tend to be in churches where many of the members have a liberal viewpoint.

  3. While I feel like in my teens there was a greater emphasis within the church about religious liberty (primarily dealing with issues of Sabbath-keeping), I also think that the American churches, at least the predominately white ones I was part of were more conservative politically (versus now, when it’s stratified with some more liberal and some very conservative), and that back then (40 years ago), religious liberty didn’t really extend to Catholics, Jews, Muslims, etc. because they especially were not part of God’s chosen people.

  4. I also spent 17 years in a predominately black SDA church. Don’t try to pigeonhole them because you’ll likely be wrong.

  5. Lastly, I think SDA’s in my past were less involved in US politics and more concerned with being a separate and distinct people. I think today we are much more a part of mainstream culture and our regardless of what side the aisle we are on, our politics have gotten more strident and coarser, along with the country. I don’t think that bodes well for Adventism.

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Yes but it is a meaningless definition. So yes, as Christians they believe in Christianity. As a government, they believe the government should keep the cultural, and traditional values of the nation. Nationalism definition. " Definition of nationalism

1 : loyalty and devotion to a nationespecially : a sense of national consciousness (see CONSCIOUSNESS sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups Nationalism Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

If he does believe it why does he? He actually quoted in the sermon a congresswoman who said something to the effect of wall of seperation was from a letter of Jefferson it is not in the constitution and it is not what they mean by it either (meaning the leftists). Then he proceeds to demonstrate he did not know what Jefferson meant by it. Jefferson meant that government cannot interfere with religion. He most definitely did not mean that the church could have no influence or dealing with the government and public. The sermon went on about the principle of the wall of separation as if the 1st amendment was not pretty clear on the subject.

Also as an aside, he mentioned Jefferson had slaves as if he did not really mean all men were created equal. If he had paid just a little attention he would have known that Jefferson blasted the King for slavery in the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. But the southern colonies would not go along with that so it was removed for the alliance to have enough force to fight a war.

" he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
https://jeffersonpapers.princeton.edu/selected-documents/jefferson’s-“original-rough-draught”-declaration-independence

What is driving the forces behind this rise of nationalism are the apparent failing economy, violence, and perceived moral decline and the desire of many for more stringent measures and controls on commerce, travel and conscience to be implemented as a remedy. We see in media the man on the street is not be able to fathom what is taking place and is, in his panic, demanding that the government assume ever broader prerogatives, little realizing that increased controls result in loss of personal freedom and misery. That elected members of Government and those in the courts in a panic, rush to placate the loudest voices. Increased controls will only result in further division and collapse of confidence. Isn’t this the time suggested in The Great Controversy that we are hearing the country’s real problem is not economic or social, but spiritual? Aren’t we seeing this cry for a return to God is the nation’s only hope for survival?

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Christian Natioanlist do not call themselves CN’s so therefore it is meaningless, neither do Racists call themselves Racist, so by the above defining method, the word is meaningless also!

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Just on the margin : My mother, at first living in Rhineprussia, then in Vienna, SDA - born - Well, if it were the custom also here to have the National ntional flag behind the pulpit -and the church celebrations of her life were to be seen in the family slideshow - it would displaysix ( six !!) National flags - - - -

And WE here are proud of Beethoven (coming from Bonn / Rhine), Mozart (coming from Salzburg), Brahms (coming from Hamburg), and we proudly show the giant Baroque monastery “Melk”, a palacce on a hilltop and representative of Habsburgs vicotry over the Turks in sixteenhundredsometrhing to president Ted Wilson (to demonstrate our situation here and now (( !!! ) - -

Setting aside the concept of “nationalism”, some 2,000 years on, and around 30,000 different denominations later, no one has defined the word “Christian” thus the term has become meaningless.

As to who gets to define any person or group, this goes to the root question of whether or not language can ever convey anything other than partial, relative truth.

Yes. We can know truth but it seems we can only ever talk about it using words which also have no concrete definition, thus we are not able to express “The Truth” about any other person, place or thing, completely and/or absolutely, when relying on language.

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Webster has: " Definition of Christian

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ
Seems correct to me. I doubt many Christians would object to it.

Racist is a description of actions, If you behave stupidly and someone calls you stupid that is a description of your actions. It is not a movement you subscribe to. Completely different things!

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You are giving a one sided account of the details regarding Kennedy vs. Bremerton School District. It wasn’t as simple as players choosing to join with him.

The coach acted as a school official with all the authority of such when he chose to not only pray on the fifty yard line after games, but to also give sermonettes to his student athletes in the locker room. There were parent complaints to the school district that indicated that some of his players felt pressured into participating because as a coach he had power over their playing time. The school district, which represents a religiously plural community, also asked him repeatedly to cease and desist because he was giving the public impression that the district favored one expression of religious faith over all others. He repeatedly refused. There were also coaches on his staff that resigned over his continued actions. Kennedy was essentially proselytizing the students under his charge. If I as a public school music teacher did this with my choral groups that I take out to public performances, there would be big problems.

Gorsuch, representing the majority SCOTUS opinion, said that Kennedy should be allowed to engage in short, silent, personal prayer. He was doing anything but this. The minority dissent reflects the dynamics of what was going on more fully. The court is politicized, and I think frankly blew it. This has all kinds of possible ramifications regarding teacher led prayer in public school classrooms. A Pandora’s box has been opened for other future rulings which could be potentially very troublesome.

Frank

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