Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"God or Country?"

A TIME writer agonizes over the results of a poll:
"What Pew actually did over two weeks in May was ask 820 self-identifying American Christians 'Do you think of yourself first as American or as Christian?' And in this case, 42% of Christians did actually answer 'Christian first.' Another 48% answered 'American first,' while 7% ducked and said they thought of themselves as both.

Not surprisingly, the 'Christian first' response emanated disproportionately from self-identified Evangelicals, 62% of whom said 'Christian first.' By contrast, the figures for other major Christian sectors were nearly reversed, with 62% of Catholics and 65% of Mainline Protestants saying 'American first'."
The really shocking thing, of course, is that 100% of the Christians didn't say "Christian first."

Most Americans see no conflict between the two loyalties - and especially between Christianity and the principles of a liberal, democratic United States. How does the columnist think a secular American should respond if asked whether his first loyalty is to his fundamental principles or to the country?

The United States is not a despotism. It stands for political and humanitarian principles which I believe to be the hope of this world. I suspect that religious Americans are among the most patriotic Americans. Nevertheless, the first loyalty of any Christian, anywhere, is to the Ruler of the universe.

1 comment:

  1. I routinely find myself at odds with other Christians on this particular issue. The fact that our citizenship is first in Christ's kingdom and only after that to America is nearly heretical to some, apparently.

    I have, in the past, encouraged people to not vote as a sort of militant way of getting people to think about their real citizenship. The sad voter turn-out numbers in our American political process would, I fear, not change much when it came to "turning out" for God. That is not to say that I don't believe Christians have a civic responsibility Biblically. I do believe we have a responsibilty under God to affect change in our earthly homes as best we can while we are here. The move towards disassociation was only as a time for "Americaholics" to get past the withdrawal to approach, what is my mind, is the inescapable truth: God desires us to be ambassadors to this world, but not politicos OF this world. Voting is our civic responsibility, and as people placed in this country providentially by God, we need to turn out at the polls. That voting is not a theological statement about the "rightness" of any political platform or candidate, just the act of a social being in a social world being civically responsible.

    The equivocation of voting preferences to saving Biblical faith could be one example of this. I know of Christians of various political persuasions who have saving Biblical faith, and I see no reason to equate my civic political responsibilities and my theology. Certainly they may inform one another (and indeed they should), but they are not the same thing.

    America is every bit as ripe for judgment as any other nation in the world. I find no convincing proofs Biblically or otherwise to believe that America is "special" to God. Our philosophical and ideological underpinings are unique and do offer benefits preferable to other systems, but that is a earthly distinction, not a divine one.


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