Ruling America

You want America to fully be a Christian nation, ruled by Christians? Okay, so tell me, exactly which version of “Christian” do you mean? That seems like a pretty important question to figure out first.

Roman Catholic (51M members)
Southern Baptist (16M)
United Methodist (7.6M)
National Baptist (5M)
Evangelical Lutheran (4.1M)
Assemblies of God (3.1M)
Other Baptist in the top 20 (8.1M)
African Methodist Episcopal (2.5M)
Lutheran (2.2M)
Episcopal (2M)
Pentecostal (1.8M)
Presbyterian USA (1.7M)
Church of Christ (1.4M)
Church of God (1.1M)
Seventh Day Adventist (1.1M)
Russian Orthodox (0.5M)
…or the other many smaller denominations with collectively tens of millions of members?

(summarized from

But if you think about it for just a brief moment, each of these denominations has some – and likely many – things that you and lots of other Americans strongly disagree with, even if every member of every one of those denominations is a faithful practicing believer in Jesus.

I guess by that list, the Catholics should immediately get the right to rule America. They easily outweigh any other denomination. But how would that work out here?

For example, most non-Catholics would never agree to Catholic doctrine enshrined in the Constitution and US legal code, requiring for example saying the rosary and praying to Mary and submitting to the Pope as proof of fitness to hold public office. The Founding Fathers were nearly unanimous in their abhorrence of “Popery” and of “Papists” as being supposedly submitted to Rome instead of the United States (see this Albany University thesis about colonial fears of Catholics titled “No Popery! No French Laws!“). This general hatred persisted for literally centuries in the US. In fact, the KKK strongly opposed Catholics until as recently as the first third of the 20th century. The election of JFK Jr. as a Catholic president was a shock to many Americans for this reason, and many historians have opined that his election galvanized anti-Catholics that formed the Christian right wing.

Or how about the numerous LGBTQ-affirming denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Episcopal Church (United States) and the Evangelical Anglican Church In America, among a couple dozen smaller denominations, any of whom if ruling America would certainly write in full rights for LGBTQ?

Or consider any of numerous Black denominations which usually are strongly supportive of governmental social safety nets and welfare support. Would conservatives who staunchly oppose welfare and social justice submit to such rulership – or would those denominations submit to being ruled by the conservatives?

I hear the response coming, “there are things all Christians agree on.” There are a few, yes, but the lack of consensus is actually much wider. Some Baptist relatives of mine don’t believe I’m “saved” and going to heaven someday because I believe in modern-day gifts of the Holy Spirit and I’m okay with drinking alcohol and dancing, even though we both submit to the rule of Jesus in our lives, and agree on many core doctrines. If we set aside the clear majority of Catholics for the moment, and let the Southern Baptists as the largest Protestant denomination determine who’s an actual bona-fide Christian for the purpose of who can lead this nation, we’ve immediately excluded millions of faithful believers who consider the Holy Spirit to be a critical part of their faith practice, probably far above any single policy issue.

Or consider that immersion baptism believers don’t believe that infant baptism and sprinkling is a valid rite and proof of salvation, and vice versa. Or there are Pentecostal believers that insist upon speaking in tongues as proof of salvation. Or what happens when the Southern Baptists, who teach that women must remain subject to men in all leadership, decide that women cannot hold political office, that the Bible forbids it, and thus all the female legislators and jurists must be replaced by men? Or even some denominations which want to repeal women’s suffrage?

Even if we completely agree on Jesus as Lord and salvation and the basic principle of baptism and the need for repentance and the authority of the Bible, how those things turn into policy and law varies hugely.

Picking one ruling theology is a really, really bad idea.

Look, it should be instantly clear that “I want America to be a Christian nation” really means “I want America to be a nation of Christians that believe and practice just like me.” I’d prefer that too. But there really isn’t just one definition of “Christian.” America is a pluralistic society, by design, like it or not. And as soon as you let any one group define what is or isn’t a Christian for the purposes of policy and fitness for public office, you’ve instantly excluded most other Americans.

And that says nothing, of course, of the one hundred million Americans who don’t follow any Christian practice, as agnostics or atheists or “nones” on surveys on religious affiliation. Why would they willingly submit to Christian rule, and being shut out of public service, and generally persecuted for their lack of faith?

If you want to start a civil war, this is one guaranteed way to do it in very short order.

This is why the Founding Fathers realized that, while the citizenry generally having Christian morals and values is essential to the health of the nation, it would be a really bad idea to let any state-recognized faith affiliation be used or promoted by the government.

This nation is NOT our kingdom. As Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He consistently and steadfastly rejected attempts to make Him a political figure and challenge the overlording Roman occupiers.

So let’s stop trying to make America into the Kingdom of Heaven. It won’t ever be, and I’m personally convinced God Himself has rejected exactly that idolatry all through history, starting with the tower of Babel.

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