Chronicle: When did God become president? (11/19/22)
During this year’s midterm elections, the Christian religion was a key point in the campaigns of many candidates. With candidates like Republican Doug Mastriano pushing for schools to have mandatory Bible studies, and Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene openly calling herself a Christian nationalist, Christianity has been given significant leeway in the political world.
Christian nationalism is the ideology that America is a nation defined by Christianity, and in turn, the government should pave the way for the nation to return to biblical ideals.
Many Christian nationalists reject the idea of the separation of church and state and often call the mixing of politics and religion “spiritual warfare”, or struggle against the so-called forces of evil.
Mastriano’s campaign slogan is “Walk as free people”, a reference to the Bible verse John 8:36 (NIV): “Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” Yet Mastriano makes it clear through his push for school Bible studies and claims that God did not intend for us to be locked down during the pandemic that he believes the only freedom of choice is Christian freedom. This is the path he expects all Americans to walk.
Lauren Boebert, a Republican candidate running for the House of Representatives seat in Colorado, said, “The reason we’ve had so much excessive regulation in our country is because the church has complied with it. The church is supposed to run the government. The government is not supposed to run the church. This is not how our founding fathers understood it. And I’m sick of this separation of church and state that’s not in the constitution.
Turning Point USA is a nonprofit, conservative organization. Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk said something similar to Boebert: “There is no separation of church and state. It’s a fabrication, it’s a fiction, it’s not in the constitution.
Yet the First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Many still deny the existence of the separation of church and state simply because it does not appear in this exact verbiage.
Many of these candidates and politically involved individuals argue for freedom of religion, which draws on the same constitutional clause as the separation of church and state.
But how free can our nation be if only one religion takes precedence?
When religion is brought into politics and scripture is linked to politics, it begins to distort the meaning of politics. Laws and policies should be fair to all, bring judgment to those who do wrong, and order society as a whole.
If we start basing these practices on religion, it’s almost as if we’re surrendering our freedom not even to God, but to those who speak for him.
Bringing the idea of a higher power into politics gives the keys to pastors who get involved in politics and candidates with strong religious involvement, and gives those who fear damnation a real reason to worry. For example, if these people begin to use the scriptures as motivation to pass bills through Congress, people can be manipulated into supporting illicit legislation because of their desire to follow God and His word.
If lawmakers end up deciding that it is wrong to practice a religion other than Christianity under a Christian nationalist regime, how can a Muslim, Buddhist, Jew or anyone of another religion feel safe? What if other religions begin to see how American politics can be dominated by religion, and try to shift the nation’s political agenda to another religion?
It is not just Christianity involved in politics that is problematic. Any religion tied to politics, and therefore forced into people’s lives, is dangerous. It could undermine the reasoning behind any bill, vote or law, and allow those in power to strike the voice of the people with the argument that their God told them it wasn’t meant to be.
Christian nationalism has real implications not just for politics, but for society. When we begin to turn a free nation into a nation filled with rules and regulations on people’s freedom of religion, it can no longer be called a “free nation.”
Although many candidates who argued for Christian nationalism in their campaigns lost, that is not the end of the movement or its ideas. These candidates still have supporters from all over the country who believe that God is the master of all things, even politics, and are ready to impose this message on all citizens.
I fear that these same candidates will even manage to use spirituality as a weapon for political purposes.
Recently, Christianity has experienced a sharp decline. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 90% of people living in the United States identified as Christian in 1972, a number that has dropped to 64% in 2020 and continues to decline. Additionally, the percentage of people who identify as religiously “unaffiliated” has increased from 16% in 2007 to 30% in 2020.
In a report by The Arrow, religious disaffiliation is the main contributor to the decline of Christianity, reinforcing the idea that the number of people who identify as “unaffiliated” with religion will continue to grow.
If Christianity declines in a nation where candidates want it to be the law of the land, how will those involved in another religion or unaffiliated be affected? Will they have to give up their choice of religion for the freedom of others?
In the years to come, we must examine who we allow to speak in the name of religion and politics. Who do we invite into our government to represent our nation, and why do we allow such extreme candidates to be at the forefront?
Where do you really draw the line between the separation of church and state, and what are the implications of involving one in the other?
America must remain the land of the free, with freedom for all its people and their respective religions.