Liberal Pastor Jim Wallis: America Is ‘Not a Christian Nation — It‘s Never Been a Christian Nation’

Via The Blaze:

Pastor Jim Wallis’ support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and his leftist inclinations are widely documented. The progressive pastor, who has served as a faith adviser to President Barack Obama, is no stranger to controversy. In an interview that will air nationwide at Lifetree Café locations in the coming days, Wallis made some startling statements about America’s history and heritage.

Lifetree is a weekly, coffee shop-like environment and event series in which individuals come together to explore issues related to God and culture. These events are planned at locations — mainly churches — around the nation and sometimes feature pre-taped videos. In a video to be aired this week, Wallis made the bold claim that America is not a Christian nation.

“It’s not a Christian nation. It’s never been a Christian nation,” Wallis boldly proclaimed while speaking about America. “We set this up so that it would not be a Christian nation for any religious framework.”

But Wallis wasn’t done there. In a preview clip, he goes on to claim that America isn’t mentioned in the Bible as having a “special” or unique place.

“Where in the Bible is there a special place for America?,” he asks. “Where do we get that that’s bad theology…just bad theology.”

The Lifetree Café provides more information about Wallis’ comments and the grander context of the video discussion that they are a part of (you can watch a video preview of his talk here):

An exclusive filmed interview with presidential faith advisor and best-selling author Jim Wallis will be screened at Lifetree Café locations nationwide.

Participants will also hear from long-shot presidential hopeful Joe Schriner, in a filmed interview, about his inclusion of traditional Christian values as planks in his campaign.

This program invites discussion about whether America is a Christian nation, and whether it even matters.

These comments come at a time that the nation — particular faith leaders and communities — is debating about religious freedom and the appropriate role the government should play in private institutions’ operational matters. The ongoing debate about America’s Judeo-Christian roots is one that continues to rage. Wallis’ most recent words will do little more than fuel the associated battles.

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One Response to Liberal Pastor Jim Wallis: America Is ‘Not a Christian Nation — It‘s Never Been a Christian Nation’

  1. Matthew LeMay says:

    The debate about whether our "nation" can be Christian or not is kind of silly. Who decides? Who is "the nation"? Does it have a heart and mind of its own to profess Jesus as the Lord of its people? A nation, and particularly our nation, is a political pact designed to protect the rights and free practice of all who inhabit it.

    First of all, the great First Nations of this land had their own spiritual paths, many of which are entirely compatible with Christianity, and many Native Americans certainly chose to become Christians very quickly. Unfortunately, others were murdered and forced to become Christians, rather than being given the right to make their own choice. That is truly contemptible and anti-Christian, so what does it mean for the "Christianity" of our nation? Does forced conversion make a people truly Christian?

    Thankfully, many of our leaders have also stood up for the rights of Native Americans and their spirituality, unquestionably the first "American" spirituality. Our nation must always remember that.

    Many of our Founding Fathers and early Americans, however, were devout Christians. (See my post on "Learning From Our History" for details.) Many were Episcopalians. However, among the forms of Christianity they professed included Freemasonry and Unitarianism, which your program deems "un-Christian." Many US presidents have been initiated Freemasons, a Christian and Universalist society which values science and reason along with the Judaic and Greco-Egyptian roots of Christian theology. Some are strictly mainline Christians with charitable social values, while others practice Judaeo-Christian mysticism such as Theosis and Kabbalah, and some practice Christian Hermeticism.

    Freemasonry is unquestionably Universalist: "Candidates for regular Freemasonry are required to declare a belief in a Supreme Being.[29] However, the candidate is not asked to expand on, or explain, his interpretation of Supreme Being. The discussion of politics and religion is forbidden within a Masonic Lodge, in part so a Mason will not be placed in the situation of having to justify his personal interpretation.[30] Thus, reference to the Supreme Being can mean the Christian Trinity to a Christian Mason, Allah to a Muslim Mason, Para Brahman to a Hindu Mason, etc. While most Freemasons would take the view that the term Supreme Being equates to God, others may hold a more complex or philosophical interpretation of the term." (Wikipedia)

    Evangelical Christianity is a newer American development that has grown quickly, especially among the poor and uneducated, as a devotional practice and an empowerment of personal theological interpretation through personal reading of the Bible. In many ways it is uniquely American, and is certainly very popular now, but it was not generally professed by the founders of the nation.

    Many of the founders of our nation were also very skeptical of Christianity. Thomas Jefferson is a prime example. For some of his direct quotes which portray is radical "theology", see my post at "Learning from Our History." Jefferson had great contempt for much of Christian belief and history. And he was elected the "third" (second after Washtington) president of our nation.

    Jews and practitioners of Native American spirituality have also been fundamental contributors to our society and the founding philosophy of our nation. The whole Federal Republic (and original Confederacy) were strongly based on the Confederacy of the Iroquois Nation, which was strongly informed by the Iroquois religion's beliefs about humanity and proper relationship to God.

    Africans on the mainland also practiced their own religions for many years, while eventually most of them became Christians, bringing in their own cultural and religious elements into American Christianity.

    Also, the Gullah people of the Sea Islands in the southeast of the coast of Georgia, were descendants of traded slaves who more purely maintained their own African heritage and religion. The Gullah still practice their ancestral religion today. The profound contributions of African Americans to our society and national culture are unquestionable.

    And of course let's not forget that since the 1800s people of every nation and creed have shown up and contributed vastly to American culture and society.

    So, no, America is not a "Christian nation." The founders were often Christian, but many were Universalists. (I don't think any Orthodox, Catholic, or Mainline Protestant would consider Jefferson to be equivalent to their definition of a "Christian" in beliefs or theology, just look at my other post.) The other religious cultures that have been a huge part of our cultural development have been noted above.

    No doubt Christians of every flavor have also contributed profoundly to our culture. But how can "a nation" be Christian without an official religion or any history of religious homogeneity? Only monarchies and feudal republics are religious in nature. The USA has always been an eclectic society which protects free practice of the beliefs of all.

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