Is this wrapping yourself in the American Flag? Or desperately clutching on to the American Flag of Christian idealism? Monumental, the new feature by Kirk Cameron explores “…the story of America’s beginnings.” And part of that involves “Our Families are Worth Fighting For” if you read the promotional poster to the left. It’s pretty obvious this will be the illusion of history versus the real story which is filled with interesting forefathers who ranged from Christians to Deists to some who bordered on atheism.
For example, is Kirk going to highlight Thomas Jefferson rewriting The Bible so it didn’t offend his rational senses? Benjamin Franklin doubting the divinity of Christ? Should we even mention Thomas Paine’s blasphemies? How about recalling America’s past sins? Indian genocide and the enslavement of black people?
It’s not that America doesn’t have a Christian past, it does, but it also has a humanistic/deistic past brought about by the enlightenment and philosophy. In addition, it has a corrupt past fueled by ambition that allowed for such things as slavery, oppression of women and the squashing of worker’s rights in favor of the rich. Christian Americanism such as Kirk’s is selective. American democracy (as it is popularly viewed since as far as I know it’s a republic) doesn’t mesh with the Bible for the following reasons:
Christians follow a king (Jesus)! America rebelled against a king! To be more exact, a British king that was said to be ordained by God (which is a fair argument when you read how a king came to rule Israel in the Old Testament. If a king is in power, God wills it. If not, he wouldn’t allow it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the king’s decisions).
Christians believe in collective guilt and punishment, Americans do not. Adam and Eve brought punishment upon all humanity for one act of sin. Imagine the outcry of individualistic Americans if they were told they were guilty of one person’s sin? We don’t accept reparations for black slavery for this reason. We certainly do believe that the punishment should fit the crime (which is why eternal hell for limited sins is also unAmerican).
Jesus was more socialist than capitalist. I’m all for the free market myself, which aligns me with most Americans who despise socialism with some exceptions for things like government assistance for the poor and healthcare options for the retired elderly. If you’re going to tell me that Jesus was an American capitalist, you’ve got to be kidding. He tells a rich man in Matthew, chapter 19 that it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. The Christian American defense to this scripture is that it has to do with the “love” of money, but that’s the point–our best capitalists love money, that’s how they got rich. And their greed often creates jobs (as well as corruption and layoffs when their company gets too big). Jesus continues on to say, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This is blatantly obvious and means that those kooky Jesus hippies who lived in communes back in the sixties and seventies were closer to being Biblical than today’s middle-class Republicans. Feel free to interpret away “Jesus the socialist,” but if he were walking around today he would be shunned by Republicans.
Jesus was not pro-family. In Luke he tells us to hate our family in favor of him. The word “hate” has been interpreted away as being a translational exaggeration (another example of how the Bible contains errors in English) but the conclusion is still the same. God comes first, family second. If your family gets in your way of loving God–get rid of your family! That is not a pro-family stance. That is a jealous god stance. And how many American Christians forsake their families for Christ anyways? Any man seen leaving his family for God (ministry or a mission trip, etc) would be looked down upon or seen as a mentally unbalanced by the American public. In addition, the Apostle Paul was not a big advocate of “family.” He felt if you were too weak to be chaste then have a family. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of family values.
Per the DVD promo copy: Long regarded as “the land of opportunity,” there’s no question the tiny band of religious outcasts who founded this country hit upon a formula for success that went way beyond what they could have imagined. How else can you explain the fact that they established a nation that has become the best example of civil, economic and religious liberty the world has ever known?
Putting aside that these “religious outcasts” which we call Puritans brought disease to the Indians and executed witches, Kirk is right. Our forefathers hit upon a successful formula, but it wasn’t based on Christianity. It was based on a general principal that whoever God was/is, he must have endowed us with certain rights including: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Where do you find this text in the Bible? Where’s the basis for this text in the Bible (seriously, I’m asking, maybe there is one?) And where in the Bible do you find the principles of our Republic? You’d be better off reading Greek history and philosophy where there was a struggle to define how government should work. The Bible is filled with kings and more kings and prophets who condemn the kings and divine punishment. God doesn’t advocate religious tolerance–he drowns people, kills them for worshiping other gods, allows them to be enslaved because they were not faithful–this isn’t a basis for religious freedom.
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This has to do with “us” not God. With human reason, not divine authority. Everyone loves to pay lip service to god (great for votes and accepting Grammies), but ultimately it is us that have made America.
So I expect when I get my hands on Kirk Cameron’s new opus that I will not get a true sense of what it took to get America to our modern day climate in which we are one of the most tolerant, if not the most tolerant country in the world. America is a great land of opportunity, but stop making it into the religion known as Americanism. We are a country filled with Christians, we are not a Christian nation. Our past is filled with moments to cheer about and moments of shame. Christians can be proud, but I believe secular humanists have more to smile about.