December is the time of year when those of us in the U.S. get to soul-search, really think about the difference between “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays,” and listen to talking heads pontificate about America’s identity as “a Christian nation.”
Which, hey, look, I’m a Christian. I believe in Christ as my savior, and I have faith that the New Testament and the Book of Mormon reflect His teachings.
But that’s why, constitutional issues aside, I find it weird that people and politicians can push to un-decouple religion and government and argue that America is a Christian nation, while at the same time strenuously resisting the kinds of policies that institutionalized Christianity would fundamentally, necessary embrace.
Examples are everywhere. Just today we got a gem from the Twitter feed of Fox News, the main pusher of both the “Christian nation” and “War on Christmas” narratives. Food stamp fraud is at “an all-time high: is it time to end the program?”
Misleading headline aside (food stamp fraud is at an all-time high—less than 0.1%), the conversation about food stamps is definitely one worth having. It’s a program that puts food on the tables of old people and families with children, in particular. Which means in the War on Christmas, Fox News is apparently playing the role of Scrooge.
FWIW, I’m not convinced “Christian nation” is a worthy goal for a country like the United States. Whether or not we wear the label, we can push to enact Christian policies, thereby acting in accordance with Christ’s teachings, instead of doing the opposite: Call ourselves a Christian nation while opposing the types of policies that we as Christians should be fighting for.
But that raises the question: What kinds of policies should Christians be pushing for? In my mind, if we’re Christians, we’ve accepted and adopted Christ’s teachings against greed and selfishness, and we give up everything to care for the sick, needy, and poor among us. (That’s a high bar, but it’s His bar, I didn’t make it up.)
We forgive those who trespass against us, and we refuse to live by the sword, lest we die by the sword.
We exercise empathy in how we treat our neighbors and we love them as we love ourselves. (And “who is our neighbor?” Another good topic for discussion.)
We acknowledge that Christ is more concerned with how we care for our poor than He is about our personal finances. From an American, Book of Mormon perspective, how we care for the poor as a society will determine our fate on this promised land.
That’s how I see it. What would a Christian nation look like to you? And should we be advocating for those types of policies? Does Christianity even work at scale, on a national level? On an economic level? It’s a conversation worth having.