Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

Commenting on Dr. Frist, and the Senate's plan to take on the epidemic of flag-burning gripping the country; Daniel McCarthy quotes John Lukacs on what happens to religion when it is mixed with populist nationalism:
The great threat to religious faith in our time (more precisely, to the quality and meaning of faith) is populist nationalism. The democratization of the churches has led to that; but that is only a secondary consequence, inseparable from the democratization of entire societies. The primary element is simpler, and more important. It is that the religion of the nation, the sentimental symbols of the nation, are more powerful than religious faith, especially when they are commingled.

You would think that the pro-religion party would be more sensitive to substituting religious worship with worship of the flag.

Fortunately, there is a compromise position that doesn't turn America into a religion. The Republicans should propose putting a C-130 with a crew on 24 hour standby waiting to fly country music superstar Toby Keith to the sight of any flag-burning, so that he can kick the burner's ass back to France.

1 comment:

JT said...

Clark - Good points! In my new book, Where Did the Party Go?, I compare Bush the evangelical Christian with another politician noted for being a believer: William Jennings Bryan. Bush's cynical or stupid--take your pick--exploitation of Christianity in the service of power, wealth, and violence compares unfavorably to Bryan's understanding of the faith.

Despite his cozy relations with evangelical bigwigs, Bush has really embraced the Mush God of American Civil Religion rather than the real God of the New Testament. You can see this in his simultaneous praise for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and every other variety of faith that might win him some votes on the campaign trail. As Francis Schaeffer warned in his book The Church at the End of the 20th Century (1970), "In the United States many churches display the American flag. The Christian flag is usually put on one side and the American flag on the other. Does having two flags in your church mean that Christianity and the American Establishment are equal? If it does, you are really in trouble....Equating of any other loyalty with our loyalty to God is sin." For Bush and the secularists who tell him what to do, religion is a means, not an end.

In the last chapter of my book, I write, "Although a minority position among evangelical Christians, there has always been a strain of theology that advocates a line of demarcation or wall of separation between church and state (on religious, not irreligious, grounds). Donatists of the 4th century, Anabaptists of the 16th century, Baptists and Quakers of the 17th century, and Dispensationalists of the 19th century all objected to the marriage of Christianity to worldly power....Civil religion is a type of idolatry as faith is transferred from God to Man and loyalty is taken from Heaven and given to one portion of the World. Even with all of his enthusiasm for politics and social reform, Bryan never made the mistake of confusing the American Republic with the Kingdom of God. Certainly his faith informed his political views, but he was not trying to build a Constantinian state or man-created theocracy."