Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Saturday, January 01, 2005

We Are NOT A Christian Nation

As we leave the old year in which the civil rights of gays became an issue used to whip up a portion of the voting populace more easily motivated by hatred than by idealism, in which we re-elected a President based largely on his repeated insistence on his religious beliefs (beliefs which seem to have produced not a shred of charity, mercy, or goodwill in his public policies, but never mind), and in which, most recently, we heard ad nauseum that the forces of secular villainy had placed Christmas in their crosshairs (funny, all the 30-year-old animated specials still seemed to make it on air--particularly odd, given the, you know, "Jew-run media"), it seems the right time to point out a fact that nobody really recalls whenever these idiotic, straw-men dust-ups occur--despite the shrill insistence of the religious right, America is not, has never been, and will never be "a Christian nation."

This statement may seem either incredibly obvious or incredibly naive to my readers--in either case, an unpromising subject for fulmination. But bear with me, please; I promise to try to put a new, or at least entertaining spin on this subject.

First of all--and here's something I've never really heard anyone else say--we can't be a Christian nation because (wait for it...) There's no such thing as a Christian. "But...but...that's not true! I mean, I know Christians! I am a Christian! I just sat through midnight mass with hundreds of 'em!" No, you didn't. You sat through midnight mass with hundreds of Roman Catholics. Not "Christians." No such thing. There are Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Pentecostalists, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, Unitarians, Methodists, Greek/Russian Orthodox--shall I continue? My point is, that while these people all consider themselves "Christian," none of them are, in fact, "Christians." Why? Because "Christians" denotes a category of people unified in their belief in the divinity of Jesus and--and--AND in the way in which this divinity is to be acknowledged. Because if you're "Christian," you believe that Christ must be worshipped, and worshipped correctly. And that means that while you may well be "Christian," you are not a "Christian." You are whatever sect or denomination you follow. A Catholic. A Baptist. A Presbyterian. Not "a Christian." A nation of Christian religions we may be--and, read the polls, we are--but we're not "Christians." Because Baptists and Presbyterians are specifically and often fanatically opposed to the Catholic vision of Christ--and vice versa. Because Boston Brahmin Presbyterians and Pentecostal Fundamentalists have about as much in common as apples and clockwork oranges. Because suppose, just suppose, that all those lunatics on whatever network it is that Pat Robertson occupies with his lunatic, anti-Semetic conspiracy theories, and Falwell bloats his way across the airwaves denouncing "the pagans"--you know, I've lived in Southern California my whole life, the center of La-La Leftist Spiritualist Insanity, and I don't think I've ever actually met a real, honest to god pagan in my life--I don't know why Jerry's so upset about this particular voting bloc, is all I'm saying--if these people got their way, and America declared Christianity its official religion--what then? Which sect? You gonna tell the Italians of Brooklyn and Irish of Chicago that their Roman Catholicism is no longer welcome, because you've gotta be Baptist or nothing? You gonna tell the entire state of Utah to shape up because Joseph Smith is now officially a heretic? You make Christianity the state religion, and you've gotta make one version of Christianity the state religion. You gonna tell every member of the country who isn't, say, Methodist that their religion is no longer acceptable? Because that's what it means to make ours a "Christian" nation. There is no "Christian" religion. There are a bunch of religions who claim to be, but I for one am not going to step up and make the call as to the winner of that contest.

So, when the ACLU goes in and does what it can to keep some group of Baptists from erecting a creche on city property, roll your eyes if you will, but keep in mind that if Baptism gets state sanction, you non-Baptists are in a whoooooole lotta trouble...


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