By now, you’ve probably seen the results of this recent poll by Public Policy Polling* making the rounds on the internet. The poll indicates that 57% of Republicans support establishing Christianity as the national religion in the US. While the sample was small (316 Republican primary voters) it reflects the opinions expressed by the vast majority of Republicans/conservative Christians who I know, and those of commenters on conservative blogs and social media posts.
I wasn’t surprised by the poll results but, as a Christian who is NOT a Republican, it raised a lot of questions for me. I’m not asking these questions facetiously; I sincerely want to know how this would work. Please feel free to share your thoughts, but refrain from political rhetoric, personal attacks and disrespect or your comment(s) will be deleted.
My Questions (bear with me, there are a lot of them):
- For 6 years conservative politicians (and citizens) have lambasted President Obama for allegedly “dismantling the Constitution”. Wouldn’t establishing Christianity (or any religion, for that matter) as the national religion do just that? Why is it okay, then, for Conservatives to dismantle the very Constitution that they proclaim to love so much?
- Conservatives are so fearful of Islamic Sharia law being instituted in the US that several states have preemptively banned it. The concern is that citizens would be forced to follow the laws of a religion they don’t believe in, and/or would be forced to convert to that religion. So if “Christian law” becomes the law of the land what would become of non-Christians? Would non-believers be forced to convert to Christianity? I’d think that’s the ultimate goal, right? Why go to the trouble of rewriting the Constitution if not to convert everyone to Christianity? If someone refuses to convert, what would be the consequences? Would they be deported (if so, how would we go about deporting legal citizens and where would they be sent)? If not deported, what would happen to them? Would they be jailed? Put to death? Aren’t those the very concerns conservatives express with regard to the enactment of Sharia law?
- My biggest question is this: Whose interpretation of Christianity would become the law? It’s become very clear over the past 6 years that what I believe it means to follow Christ is very different from what most conservative Christians believe. Would I be forced to follow your interpretation or could I force you to follow mine? Who gets to decide?
- Would we base our Christian laws on the old covenant or the new? If we are to follow the old covenant laws, will we pick and choose or follow them to the letter? If we pick and choose, who gets to decide which we’ll adhere to and which are okay to ignore? Below are just a few of the old testament laws that I have questions about:
- Will we return to sacrifices and burnt offerings (Lev 1:1-17)?
- Will we outlaw wearing mixed fabrics (Lev 19:19)?
- What about eating shellfish, pork, fat, and mixing meat and dairy (Deut 14:9-10, Lev 3:17, Lev 11:7-8, Exodus 23:19)?
- Will hog hunting be outlawed/butchers and grocery stores be banned from selling pork since touching a dead hog would be illegal (Deut 14:8)?
- Will it be illegal for our gardens to have more than one type of plant (Lev 19:19)? And will we be forbidden from eating fruit from trees we plant for 5 years (Lev 19:23-25)?
- Will commerce on the Sabbath be outlawed (Ex 20:10)?
- Will tattoos and piercings be outlawed (Lev 19:28)?
- Will adultery become illegal and punishable by death (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:25)?
- If the sanctity of marriage is to be truly upheld, does that mean that only first marriages will be recognized and subsequent marriages be made illegal (Lev 21:13-15)? What about divorce? Will people who are in their second (or third, fourth, etc) become outlaws, or will they be given a pass? If not given a pass, what will their punishment be?
- Will it be illegal for men to shave (Lev 19:27)?
- Will all boys and men have to be circumcised (Gen 17:12-14)?
- Will it be illegal for women to speak in church (1Cor 14:34-35)?
- What about women wearing pants, will that be outlawed (Deut 22:5)?
- If a young woman is raped, will she be forced to marry her rapist and remain married to him for life (Deut 22:29)?
- Will the brother-in-law of a widow be forced to marry the widow, regardless of his marital status (Deut 25:5-10)? If so, does that mean that polygamy will also become the law of the land?
- Will we do away with immigration laws and grant all immigrants full citizenship rights (Lev 19:33-34)?
I could go on, but you get my drift. From the outside (of current conservatism) looking in, it seems to me that conservative Christians only champion enacting the specific old testament laws that they themselves want to follow, yet conveniently neglect the other 500+ laws outlined there. Likewise, when considering laws, many conservative Christians seem willing to blatantly disregard new testament scripture and Jesus’ teachings, such as:
- Love for our fellow man, especially our enemies (Matt 5:43-48)
- Not trying to remove the speck in someone else’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own (Matt 7:3-5)
- Treating the least among us as we would treat Him (Matt 25:34-46).
Acceptance of Christ as Savior comes from the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts, not from our laws. We cannot compel a person’s heart to turn to Christ by legislation or force. Salvation comes from faith alone (Eph 2:8-10). In fact, shouldn’t we stand firmly against that very thing lest we be out of line with God’s will? The Bible I study tells me that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ…because by the works of the law no one will be justified (Gal 2:16). Enacting laws and calling ourselves a Christian nation will not – can not – make us a nation of Christians.
Perhaps, Christian brothers and sisters, our time on earth would be better spent by living our lives in service to Christ; thereby demonstrating, through our actions and words, the glory and grace of our savior. Our lives, by example, are what will bring hearts to the Lord. Attempting to force Christianity on non-believers through legislation and judgment is not winning hearts for Christ; rather it is turning hearts away from Christ on a daily basis.
Believers will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give account for our own actions, not those of others. While I fall short every day (as we all do), I pray that He will say that I will have lived a life free of judgment or contempt for my brothers and sisters, without putting stumbling blocks or obstacles in their way, and that I didn’t destroy anyone for whom Christ died (Rom 14:10-15). I pray that my life is an example of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, so that it will be pleasing to God, leading to peace and mutual edification (Rom 14:17-19). Let us all remember that we are blessed when we do not condemn ourselves by what we approve (Rom 14:22).
As I said above, I sincerely want to hear your thoughts on these issues sans political rhetoric, personal attacks, or disrespect. Please leave your comment(s) here on the blog or on my Facebook page.