The Watering Hole, Wednesday, January 4, 2017. The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

But how did we get this way, and what does it mean to be Christian anyway?

The following is this author’s impressions of the evolution of Christianity, based on an admittedly unscholarly understanding of the history of the religion.

Christ wasn’t very popular when he died. Sure, of the prophets of his time, he’d been gaining in popularity, culminating in his arrival at the seat of his religion, Jerusalem. But within a week he’d upset the status quo, turning over the tables of the profit-center of the priesthood. The reaction from the authorities was swift and the son of a carpenter was executed.

But there was something about what he said, or what others said he said, that would not die. He said love one another, even love your enemies. Give away your possessions so that you are not controlled by them. Care for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the foreigner.

This message grew as little communes formed across the Roman Empire. And it challenged the power of the State. Governments, by far and large, stay in power by controlling the governed. And one of the best ways of controlling the governed is to keep them divided amongst themselves. Sew distrust, hate, fear and scapegoating and you keep the populace’s attention focused on each other, while those at the top of the economic structure continue to hoard more and more of the country’s resources.

But a religion that espouses loving and accepting is antithetical to a government that rules through divisiveness. A religion that teaches its followers to share all they have with each other (the essence of communism) threatens a hierarchy dependent on concentrating wealth into the hands of the few.

But contemporary Christianity, at least that espoused by a vocal and politically powerful ‘evangelical’ sect, now teaches division amongst the masses and not only condones, but praises the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few. How did that happen?

Well, several hundred years ago, the Roman Empire made Christianity the State Religion. Perhaps it was a matter of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. But it became ‘us against them’. Christians versus Muslims. Christians versus Jews. If you were Christian, you belonged to a group that was saved by God. If you weren’t a Christian, you were influenced by Satan. Christians versus non-Christians.

And Satan, being the devil, was to be hated, as were his followers, i.e. all non-Christians. Thus the religion of love became one of hate. Evangelical Christianity has little to do with the teachings of the son of a carpenter. It has everything to do with forgiving their own while condemning all others. And, in this sense, the United States of America is a Christian Nation. We have elected a President who calls everyone that does not support him his enemies and brands them as losers. He is embraced by Evangelical Christians who forgive him his sins and cheer his calls for violence against those who do not support him.

The son of a carpenter would tell us to repay hate with love, to love Trump and his supporters, to love the enemy, no matter what. But, then again, sometimes it is necessary to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive them out with a whip.

OPEN THREAD

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14 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Wednesday, January 4, 2017. The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

  1. I’m not getting why everybody thinks the GOP House withdrew the plan to gut the ethics panel had anything to do with Trump or even calls from angry constituents. The plan only passed 119-74 Monday night. They didn’t have the votes to pass their rules if all the Dems and those 74 Republicans wouldn’t approve the changes. Simple math.

  2. Having questioned my faith many times over the years and much more so lately, you have given my confusion some perspective, and I thank you.

  3. Is there any verifiable proof that the man called Jesus in the New Testament ever existed? Are there any records from the time that confirm the biblical ‘Christian’ mythology on any sort of a case-by-case basis? And if so, if he did exist, wherefrom came the “son of god” stuff? Who dreamed it up, and why? On what basis?

    Religion puzzles me, always has.

    • You might find some answers by reviewing the sources here:

      “Roman historian Tacitus referred to ‘Christus’ and his execution by Pontius Pilate in his Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.[37] The very negative tone of Tacitus’ comments on Christians make the passage extremely unlikely to have been forged by a Christian scribe.[38] The Tacitus reference is now widely accepted as an independent confirmation of Christ’s crucifixion,[39] although some scholars question the authenticity of the passage on various different grounds.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

      • Too bad there wasn’t a dash cam handy on that first Easter.

        I have never had a problem ‘believing’ there was a guy named Christus or something similar, one who may have caused a ruckus or two. I have seen The Life of Brian, of course, so my understanding as to how legends are built is OK. It’s the myth insertions that puzzle. Who did it, and why? And why did it catch on to the point where Rome knelt before Zod and accepted it, bought into it?

        What’s so “catchy” about religious myth?

        • “why did it catch on to the point where Rome knelt before Zod and accepted it, bought into it?”

          The human brain is a lazy organ. If given a task, it will seek to accomplish that task with as little effort as possible. This function is why, for example, we memorize multiplication tables. Regurgitating a memorized 12 x 12 = 144 is far easier than having to compute it each time. (2 x 12 = 24; 10 x 12 = 120; 24 + 120 = 144)

          So, which is easier to comprehend, a creation myth or all of evolution from now back to the big bang? Simple sells, and faith keeps things simple: “God said it, I believe it, that’s it.”

          And, it’s easy to control a populace using faith-based facts.

          • Well, evolution is FAR easier to comprende than, e.g., God. Whenever I think of evolution, I contemplate how easy it is to imagine a slight environmentally-induced change in DNA and how that can turn into a species trait if it’s worthwhile, etc. And I can imagine the singularity, the Big Bang, and the “creation” of the universe, no worries. But when it comes to God, I gotta wonder where IT came from, what created IT and why, and also why the hell IT never comes around, never stops by for a visit. Makes me think that since I can ‘see’ the universe, life, death, trees, etc. — but never God — well, there’s the difference ‘tween exist and don’t exist. To my very narrow mind’s POV, of course.

    • Who dreamed it up, and why? On what basis?

      That’s easy! Combination of things. One, because humans are curious creatures and lack of understanding of nature early on led humans to believe in lots of weird shit because they couldn’t explain why things are the way they are. Two, because once you have humans believing in weird shit then those humans who desire to get what they want will use these weird beliefs to influence others and then keep them in check once they have power!

      See, simple 🙂

      • Yeah, I hear you. The remaining puzzler is why, given the advancing human knowledge about all things, the science, the explanations, the unshrouding of old and ancient mysteries — why do so many remain so susceptible to “belief” in the nonsensical, in ancient mythologies? Animal Jack, my old college roomy of some fifty years ago puzzled over the same stuff, came up with a memorable line: “If only we could find the way to get rid of faith.” That would be a big help indeed, but we’ll also have to find the means of ridding ourselves of ignorance, of irrational fear, of hate. Until we manage that, not much else will change . . . and the Republican Party will continue to persist unless/until they employ the tools necessary to cause the sixth mass extinction. After that, all will be well.

        It’s so complicated. Well, not really. 😉

      • Kind of like drawing pictures of the beasts you have defeated and devoured on your cave walls imbued you with the strength and courage of the beast….You know, superstition…

  4. If every American who claims they are “Christian” actually acted in accordance with what Christ allegedly taught, our country would truly be a moral leader in the world. And I believe that we would be a much more progressive, forward-looking country, too.

    Unfortunately, even an agnostic like me is more of a “Christian” than any and all of the “Evangelical Christians” and others who profess their non-existent piety.

    • I agree.

      Now, go back and watch “Jesus Christ – Super Star” and see how prescient it was regarding the message about the Jesus Freaks of the day. The opening song says it all.

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