Monthly Archives: October 2012

Idolatry and American Exceptionalism

This election season seems to be bringing out the ire of both sides of the aisle, but I would really only like to address the camp in which I seem to find my tent pitched, namely the evangelical-Christian-and-politically-conservative one.  Now first of all, it’s important to say that there is much room under this banner for differing opinions. One can pitch their tent here and take a pro-Romney position or a pro-anyone-but-Obama position or even a pro-some-other-conservative-because-you-can’t-swallow-the-Romany-pill position.  But there are certain things, certain opinions, certain ways of thinking, certain ways of communicating opposition to the current  political powers-that-be that we all ought to consider as unclean and in need of being taken outside the camp and burned.  Secondly, and I guess this has to be said, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of opposing our current President’s vision for our nation. The Mama State approach to government is to be torn out root and branch.

But this election season has given birth to videos, Facebook posts, emails, Photoshopped and non-Photoshopped pics, etc., and all of these are all teetering on the brink of idolatrous patriotism.  These bits of propaganda are teeming with the concepts of self-determination, self-reliance, the power of the individual, and the ever-nauseating “American exceptionalism”, and on and on.  And appended to many of these forms of communication, almost as a token tip of the hat to the civic religion of a baptized culture, we see the words “God Bless America”.  If I was God, looking over my shoulder and watching these videos, reading these posts, and viewing these pics, I would probably think “Why do they need my blessing if they are so self-reliant and exceptional?”  This “We the People are the answer” approach to healing our land is part of the reason we have the current President!  We thought we could handle the problem of the health care crisis through self-determination and legislation.  “We’re Americans.  We’re exceptional.  And we got this.”  So what happened?  We elected a President who said, “Health care crisis?  I got this.”

So let me get this straight.  We don’t like the way he enacted an idolatrous government program that purports to be the health savior of the nation, so we decide to step up and claim to be a different kind of savior for the nation?  I hope it is becoming evident that American exceptionalism will never clean house.  All it will do is re-arrange the furniture because all it is is trading one idol for another.   More of the same disease is no way to effect the cure.

Let me reiterate that as evangelical Christians, I respect the individual’s right to promote what they think is the best for our nation.  And I even respect the right to promote Romney as the candidate of choice, though I personally can’t bring myself to do so.  But I hope it is becoming more plain as to why, as Christians, we ought to take exception to American exceptionalism when it invokes the name of God without also confessing our corporate sins or at least confessing our dependence on Him.  If we participate in passing around the propaganda of American exceptionalism, then it seems we are rendering unto Caesar that which belongs to God.

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