More than once in life I've closed one chapter and opened another. I like to think I learned valuable lessons each time. I bet you feel much the same about your life too.
In my reinterpretation of the popular interpretation of the Bible theme, I provide the reader a way to hold their faith and yet use it in a positive, affirming, and all inclusive manner.The good news was never intended to bash others and do harm.
Birth Of A (Christian) Nation: Scholars Debate The Genesis Of A Popular Myth
The New York Times over the weekend ran a provocative column by Kevin M. Kruse, a history professor at Princeton University, on the origins of the “Christian nation” myth.
Kruse, author of the book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, argues that the “Christian nation” idea really took off in the early 1930s when a band of business leaders endorsed the concept as a way of fighting back against President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
I haven’t read Kruse’s book, but his Timescolumn is thought-provoking and well argued. It’s worth your time. I was especially interested in Kruse’s use of the term “Christian libertarian” to describe some of the prominent corporate leaders of the “Christian nation” crusade. I’ve had the same thought while attending meetings of Religious Right organizations. At the annual Values Voter Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC) there’s very little talk these days about religion and theology. Rather, the events have the feel of Heritage Foundation briefings. (In fact, the Heritage Foundation co-sponsors the Summit.)
These events are essentially primers of libertarian economic theory, with the main idea of the FRC these days being not that Jesus is good but that government is always bad. God is still part of their trinity, but the other two figures are President Ronald W. Reagan and Ayn Rand. (Ironically, Rand was an atheist.) At the Summit, Reagan’s name is dropped constantly – Jesus’s, not so much.
Kruse’s ideas are interesting and worth exploring in more detail, but I think there may be more to the story. This July, former Americans United Legal Director Steven K. Green will publish a new book titled Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding. I received an early copy and read it a few weeks ago. Green, who is now a professor of law at Willamette University in Oregon, argues that the “Christian nation” myth springs from the 1820s, during a time of growing religious piety when a generation that rose up after the Founding Fathers began to cast about for a foundational myth that would link the still-new nation with the Almighty in a profound way.
I think Kruse and Green are both right. The “Christian nation” thesis, it seems to me, rears its head most powerfully during times of change and tension. It’s not surprising that the concept first appeared early in the 19th century. As the growing nation struggled to find its place on the world stage, a belief that the United States was God’s holy experiment and somehow favored by the hand of Providence provided comfort and assurance that what the country and its leaders did was right and good because it was ordained by God. (Even when it wasn’t right – such as our treatment of the Native peoples.)
The concept arose again powerfully during the Civil War (with both sides claiming God’s support) and its aftermath. The belief was that a “Christian nation” would sort through the chaos and secure its destiny and build a new American empire from sea to sea.
During the Great Depression, obviously a time of great upheaval, the “Christian nation” concept flared anew. If Kruse is right, this time it was pressed into service to fend off the rise of centralized, activist government and the “socialism” of the New Deal.
The nation saw a flicker of the concept again during World War II, with some pastors arguing that only a unified “Christian nation” could defeat the Axis Powers. But the idea went into fairly steep decline for many years after that. Kruse notes that President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s religious concepts were much more non-sectarian. Thus, it was blandly ecumenical phrases like “In God We Trust” and “under God” that were pressed into service against the Communists. America’s “civil religion” was born, a concept that is itself not without problems.
One thing is clear: The “Christian nation” concept does not belong to the Founders. The idea has surfaced from time to time throughout our history, but it can’t be pinned on the men who wrote the Constitution.
For proof of that, we need only read the text of the document itself.
I'm wrote my story in hopes that it will inspire others to share their story. I don't know if there is a "book" in everyone but I know for certain there is a story in there. I encourage you to share your story of overcoming some of life's challenges. Someone needs to hear what you have to say. They are waiting!
Poll: Brits View Atheists As More Moral Than Believers, Religion More Harmful Than Good
Nov 8, 2014
An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.
The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.
Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.
The poll, conducted by Survation for the HuffingtonPost UK’s series Beyond Beliefdoesn’t address why Britons have come to this conclusion, however faith in God and religion is falling in America as well. Jerome Baggett, a professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California told The San Francisco Business Times why he thinks people are retreating from religion in the United States,
“Religious institutions themselves have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of many Americans due to sexual and financial scandals, or political overreaching ‘by the so-called Christian right.'”
Linda Woodhead, professor of the sociology of religion at Lancaster University, told The Huffington Post UK she found the results of the poll “striking,”
“This confirms something I’ve found in my own surveys and which leads me to conclude that religion has become a ‘toxic brand’ in the UK. What we are seeing is not a complete rejection of faith, belief in the divine, or spirituality, though there is some to that, but of institutional religion in the historic forms which are familiar to people.”
Woodhead explains the reason Britons are distancing themselves from religion are “numerous” and include: sex scandals involving Catholic priests and rabbis, as well as Islamist terror attacks and conflict in the Middle East,
“I’d add religious leaderships’ drift away from the liberal values, equality, tolerance, diversity, [which is] embraced by many of their own followers and often championed by non-religious and atheist people more forcefully”.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association had this to say,
“This survey just confirms what we know is the common sense of people in Britain today – that whether you are religious or not has very little to do with your morality. Most people understand that morality and good personal and social values are not tied to religious belief systems, but are the result of our common heritage and experience as human beings: social animals that care for each other and are kind to others because we understand that they are human too. Not only that, people understand that religious beliefs themselves can be harmful to morality: encouraging intolerance, inflexibility and the doing of harm in the name of a greater good. We only need to look around us to perceive that fact.”
An affirmation 4 U:
"I release to the Comforter any personal feelings of anxiety, sadness, guilt, and anger and allow Peace to fill the void."
There were tough times with life's setbacks when I needed a good friend. In a group of our peers, a group for support,we can "practice" being a good friend.
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions,” wrote Karl Marx in Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. “It is the opium of the people.”
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.