Long May It Wave?

christian-flag

Some of you may have read recent news reports related to a “flag issue” taking place in Boston, MA. If you haven’t, here is an article about the dispute.

According to the article, the challenge has gone all the way to the Supreme Court and they are scheduled to hear the case today (1/18/22), with a possible decision by the end of June.

In my opinion, this is just one more example of Christians trying to overstep their bounds.

Yes, the Constitution talks about freedom of religion, but this doesn’t translate to “religion” entering into every facet of public life. It means those who are “religious” have freedom to worship without governmental intrusion or obstruction.

Interestingly, the Biden administration is in support of the action, as is the ACLU — which has presented a brief that states: “The city (cannot) designate its flagpole a public forum for private speech and then deny access to an otherwise eligible speaker based on viewpoint.” 

On the other hand, Boston officials contend that the flags on the city’s flag poles are a form of government speech and the city has a right to avoid raising a faith group’s flag as it would then be conveying a religious message. (I AGREE!)

This argument has won in the lower courts but in September, the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case and clarify what counts as government speech.

From my non-religious point of view, I see this as simply one more effort to make in-roads towards meeting the goal of the Christian Nationalists. Minor, yes, in that it’s a “city” issue. But Major in that the decision made by the Supreme Court may very well demonstrate the bias many of us believe exists among its members, as well as portend future actions by this group that involve religious issues.

Christian Nationalism

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com

I just came across an EXCELLENT article entitled, “Here’s where Christian Nationalism comes from, and what it gets wrong.”

Since some of you may not be familiar with this movement and/or the ideology behind it, here is an excellent explanation from the article:

It holds that, like Israel of the Old Testament, America is God’s chosen instrument to fulfill his purposes on Earth. Its adherents believe that America was intended, both by its founders and by God himself, to be a Christian nation, and that defenders of that birthright are divinely appointed to reinstate it by means of political power.

I’m sure many of you who watched the videos of the January 6, 2021 debacle saw individuals carrying the Trump and Confederate flags — but did you also notice the several participants who were carrying Christian flags and wearing clothing with slogans such as “Jesus 2020” and “Jesus in my savior. Trump is my president“?

Christian Nationalism is very popular among many conservative white American evangelicals; in fact, there are reports that some pastors even encouraged their members to attend Trump’s rally.

I really hope you will take the time to read the referenced article because it not only provides some history behind the movement, why its establishment in government has become so important to evangelicals … and even more importantly … why there is an urgency to activate it in the U.S.

The article can be found (link removed) — use PDF file below.

Necessary Qualifier: The article author is an ordained minister (among other things) — and although he believes America needs the Christian gospel, he does NOT support “Christian Nationalism.”

NOTE: Here is a PDF file since most visitors were unable to access the article directly:

Christian Nationalism

Religion and The Rest of Us

The following statement was recently made by Scott Morrison. Australia’s Prime Minister and a devout Pentecostal Christian:

“People should not be cancelled or persecuted or vilified because their beliefs are different from someone else’s.”  

When taken at face value, it’s a good declaration. But this is NOT the way Mr. Morrison intended. Rather, his actual intent is that people of faith (Christianity) should be “protected against cancel culture.”

Apparently his statement comes amid concerns that individuals from churches, schools, and workplaces are unable to express their religious beliefs. According to the article, proposed legislation will protect Australians who make “statements of belief” from action under existing discrimination laws. (It also will allow faith-based organizations to prioritize the hiring and enrollment of people from their faith.)

On a broad scale, one would assume such legislation would protect individuals from ALL religions. In other words, Muslims, Wiccans, Druids, Hindus, Satanists, etc. would each have the same protection. Yet rarely is this the case in legislative decisions related to religion.

Many of us who live in the States are not surprised by Mr. Morrison’s actions. Since the horrendous four years of the Trump reign, the Christian Nationalism movement (“Taking America Back for God”) has slowly but surely permeated American civic life. Thus, it would not be surprising if similar laws were proposed by certain members of Congress in the not-too-distant future.

It’s important to those reading this post to consider that U.S. laws relating to religious freedoms in the U.S. are … complicated. Yes, we have the First Amendment that addresses guarantees and precautions related to religion and its practice, but this doesn’t stop individuals and groups from searching for “loopholes” in order to challenge the provisions. In fact, it is not uncommon to read of people and churches using the words of the Amendment in such a way as to support their own theology. (If interested, further reading can be found here.)

As a general rule, the broad-minded and more rational individuals among the U.S. populace are often willing to allow a certain amount of leeway to practicing Christians. However, far too many theists try to push the envelope. Naturally, non-believers and atheists would prefer that they just “go away” or, at the very least, keep their prayers and admonishments to themselves. 

In any event, there is little doubt that believers like Mr. Morrison will continue to assert their doctrines and practices into society as a whole. Hopefully, the “rest of us” will not allow them to succeed.

Christianity and QAnon

Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Some of you may have already seen this, but if not, it’s definitely worth a read:

Pastors are leaving their congregations after losing their churchgoers to QAnon

On the morning of the Capitol riot, Vern Swieringa told his wife during a walk with their dogs: “Something is going to happen today. I don’t know what, but something’s going to happen today.”

The Christian Reformed Church pastor from Michigan had been watching for months as some members of his congregation grew captivated by videos about the QAnon conspiracy theory on social media, openly discussing sex trafficking and Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

[***]

So when hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol hours after his premonition, Swieringa was shocked, but not surprised.

“I think some of the signs had been there all along, and it just all came to a perfect storm,” Swieringa told Insider.

Even more startling is the following from the article:

[A} survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute found that more than a quarter of white evangelical respondents believed in QAnon and that three in five believed that President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election was “not legitimate.” 

Much of this smacks of Christian Nationalism, which some of you have spoken out against. Let me assure you, it is a very real movement. I won’t address it here, but urge anyone who is not familiar with their goals to do the research. Wikipedia is a good place to start. You may also want to read this article.