Discovering Religion: Ep 19 – If America Became a Christian Nation (1 of 3)
Imagine what would happen if Sarah Palin’s claim were true — that America is “such a great and exceptional nation because we do base our laws, our values, on the god of the Bible the old and the new Testament.”
However, before we explore the kinds of changes we might expect to see if America were to truly “…base our laws and values on the God of the Bible, the Old and New Testament”, it would be prudent to examine other modern-day theocracies whose governing principles closely parallel those found in the Old Testament.
Sharia law is believed by Muslims to be the sacred law of God as told in the Koran and hadith. Sharia law not only contains guidelines regarding morality, but instructs Muslims on many different topics, such as Fasting, Pilgrimage, Trade, Marriage, Divorce, Dietary Laws, Liquor and gambling, Dress codes, Taxes, Legal and court proceedings, Justice, and the Penalties for crime. As we have seen in the previous episode, the Bible outlines many of the same social and moral laws in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Therefore, by comparing Mosaic and Sharia law we can get a good idea of what we might expect to see if Christians were to someday get their wish and “America truly became a Christian Nation”.
One of the first changes that might be implemented under the new system of Biblical law, would fittingly be, the abolishment of the first Amendment. The founding fathers gave us the Freedom of Religion, but according to the first commandment there is no other God than the God of the Bible. Therefore, why would Christian America tolerate the worship of any God other than Jesus Christ? Indeed, this exact sentiment is shared by many Christians throughout the United States.
Unsurprisingly, Sharia law adheres to a very similar doctrine. Muslims are strictly prohibited from believing in anything apart from the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. And the act of leaving one’s faith, known as apostasy, is equated to treason — a crime that carries the penalty of death.
The next freedoms we might loose if American became a Christian Nation are also contained in The first Amendment, the rights to Freedom of speech and Freedom of the press. The fourth commandment tells us to not to take the lords name in vain, and Exodus chapter 22 verse 28 also commands: “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.” Therefore, certain laws must be implemented in order to prevent Americans from cursing or criticizing the Creator God, Jesus Christ, and anyone in public office. Although members of the Tea Party and Birther movements would be jailed for claiming President Obama is not a America citizen, we would quickly find ourselves amidst of an intellectual lockdown, not unlike the current situation in many Islamic countries.
For example, on June 13th 2010 in Tehran, Iran what started as a peaceful demonstration over the disputed landslide reelection of President Ah-meh-den-ijad, ended in bloodshed as Iranian police attempted to quell the public outrage over the loss of the reform candidate Mousavi, who many believed would restore their personal rights and liberties.
The Islamic Republic of Iran also imposes widespread censorship on a variety of content throughout the internet. Internet Service Providers or ISPs face serious penalties if they do not comply with government filter lists, and before subscribers are even granted access to the internet through these ISPs, they must first promise, in writing, not to access non-Islamic websites. Since the first term of President Ah-meh-den-ijad, ISPs have been told to block political, human rights, and women’s websites expressing dissent, deemed pornographic or anti-Islamic. The ban also targets popular social networking sites like Facebook and Youtube, in addition to many news websites as well.
In response to “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day”, the internet movement calling for freedom from censorship, Pakistan temporarily banned facebook from almost 2 and a half million accounts located in the country. What slippery slope might America expect to travel down if we too place widespread limitations on our freedom of speech?
Perhaps some Christians might follow in the footsteps of Islamic fundamentalists, who violently suppresses any criticism of their faith, by developing a similar culture of violent Christian extremism that would target anyone attempting to speak out against their beliefs. Indeed, this would be no stretch of the imagination, for a such Christian extremists already exist, many of whom actively target and murder doctors that perform abortions.
The 13th amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude, is another important piece of American legislation that might be repealed if America became a Christian nation. Colonial America, and then later the United States, engaged in the horrific practice of slavery for over 200 years. This shameful chapter in our national history was finally closed in 1864 when the 13th Amendment was ratified after a bloody civil war that resulted in nearly 700,000 deaths, a loss of life that surpasses the combined American military death tolls of all wars from the Revolution through Vietnam.
It is almost too much for our finite minds to comprehend the sheer amount of excruciating pain, suffering, and heartache that was released upon this Earth at the hands of the slave trade, and the overwhelming loss of life it took to finally put this unfathomable evil to rest. However, what is not beyond our comprehension is from where the European and American conspirators in the slave trade, a vast majority of whom belonged to the Christian faith, derived the justification to buy and sell other human beings.
“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members from their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
The add instruction to NOT rule over the Israelites ruthlessly, appears to be a stipulation intended to counteract the ruthless nature in which we ARE allowed to treat slaves from other nations. Indeed, Exodus 21 instructs us on the proper way to beat our chattel:
“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”
Therefore, it is perfectly fine to viciously beat your slaves, so long as the beating they endure does cause them to die that same day, but rather, leaves them clinging to life for another, quote “day or two”. One can plainly see how the savage brutality of the slave trade derived justification through the Old Testament; however, contrary to Jesus Christ’s gospel of love and peace, the New Testament actually serves to re-enforce the Mosaic laws on slavery found in Exodus and Leviticus:
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”
What is so amazing about the Bible’s depiction of slavery is at the very beginning of the Book of Exodus the Jewish people were themselves enslaved. In the twelfth chapter of Exodus, Moses leads the Jews out of bondage in Egypt and just 8 chapters later Moses provides his people with the 10 Commandants, in which, oddly, God fails to address the issue of slavery. What a momentous lost opportunity to prevent so much needless human suffering. But lets give God the benefit of the doubt, after all, he must have been awfully busy instructing Moses on, how there is only one god, how we shouldn’t have other Gods, how we shouldn’t make graven images of God, how not to blaspheme God, and exactly when we should worship God.
However, one would expect Moses to have at least tried squeezing an 11 commandment at the bottom, considering the Jewish people’s unique perspective on slavery, and dare I say, empathy for future groups of people that might one day suffer a similar, brutal enslavement as the Jews did under Pharaoh. Apparently being forced to work in such horrible conditions, enduring merciless beatings, and obliging Egyptian slave masters as they carelessly murdered the weakest among their people didn’t seem to leave much of an impression on the Jews. In fact, the VERY NEXT chapter after receiving the holy Laws of God, in Exodus 20, Moses actually condones the practice of enslaving other human beings and instructs us on the proper way to beat our slaves. Exodus 21 even claims we are allowed to sell our own daughter into bondage.
“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go out as the male slaves do.”
Exodus 21: 7