There is a wonderful group on Facebook, "God is Not an American." I love it because I so often see evidence that many, many of the people around me think that he/she IS American, and that s/he loves to underwrite the American "foreign policy" agenda and can't wait to sign onto the next Republican party platform. Admittedly, I do see Democrats that have a parallel attitude, but generally speaking, it seems to be more prevalent on the Republican side of the aisle. Of course, some Republicans might say it's because Republicans believe in God and Democrats don't, or some other such silliness. I won't even dignify that with a response.
Now, if you believe as I do that God is a lover of all human beings equally, then grab your barf bag and click on this link. Watch the video. Do you see what I see?
I see people who cannot tell the difference between their Christianity and their patriotism -- they think they are one and the same. I see people who assume that God is indeed an American, and that God always supports America, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ supports the work of our military when it kills our enemies.
Is there not a tension here between the words of Jesus, "Love your enemies and do good to those who persecute you," and the idea that we sometimes have to kill our enemies? "Tension" is certainly too soft a term. There is no "tension," there is conflict. However, this video demonstrates how easily the gospel of Jesus can be perverted to the extent that many feel absolutely tension, let alone sense a conflict here.
Now, I don't object to the existence of a group of Christians who might lobby representatives of our government on certain issues. I don't object to government employees praying or studying the Bible. What I object to in this video (and in American "Christian" culture in general) is the assumption that the gospel aligns perfectly with our American agenda. Here's an example.
Manifest Destiny. America was "meant" to extend "from sea to shining sea," and anything or anyone that stood in its way was opposing divine intention and was therefore subject to divine wrath, which "we" were more than willing to execute (pun intended, but not intended to be funny!) on God's behalf. It was genocide, and the first peoples to reside in this place barely survived. It was an atrocity -- to the point that I have to put the quote marks around "we" when I talk about it. Whether or not my ancestors participated, as a white male I have reaped the benefits of what was done. It was done because "we" were Christian and the native peoples were "pagan savages" who were worthy of slaughter. (For a more complete exposition of how "Manifest Destiny" worked in American history, see the book by Richard Hughes, Myths America Lives By. Bibliographical information and a review by yours truly can be found by clicking here. Review originally appeared in The Christian Chronicle.)
I'm not sure what to do about this issue except to keep talking about it. Anybody got a flak jacket I can borrow?