The Burner didn’t have a ‘violence’ category until after TB read the following post.
A pastor called Craig Watts wrote this today on Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians site:
Early this week the presidential candidates got to debate about foreign policy as each of them claimed to be the biggest tough guy…and the least like Jesus. Sadly, for many Christians that is perfectly fine. This fact was brought home to me again last week when I went into the local Panera restaurant where I usually work on my sermon.
A gathering of men was in the corner I usually occupy, taking every table. They all had Bibles in front of them. I assumed that they were a Christian men’s fellowship from one of the neighboring churches. I found a table on the opposite side of the place and sat down. The conversation from the group was very loud. I didn’t hear anything that sounded like a Bible study. What I heard instead was a lot of angry political ranting.
The low point in the rancor came when the men began to complain that US military strength had diminished during the last several years, making the country look “weak” to the rest of the world. I heard one of the men bluster, “I believe if one American gets killed in any foreign nation, we should send in the troops and kill a thousand of them!”
I really shouldn’t have been so shocked by what was coming from the men’s group. After all, war is at the heart of American civil religion and civil religion has deeply impacted many churches in this country. The extent that churches have adopted a militarized version of Christian faith is most evident on national holidays –particularly Independence Day and Memorial Day- and at the onset of a war. Churches in the United States not only over-identify with America, they over-identify with the military.
As the presidential candidates debate, many Christians will be drawn to the one who most convincingly presents his vision of a militarily dominant America. Conversely, many Christians will turn away from the one whose opponent succeeds in depicting him as weakening the military might of the nation. Yet when I look to scripture, I find no support for these values, particularly in Jesus. Even at his most physically aggressive moment –the disruption he caused at the Temple- Jesus left no one wounded, much less dead (Matthew 21:12, John 2:15).
Those who try in desperation to squeeze from Jesus some support for Big Military usually abuse a couple of his parables to make their point… (Click here to read Watt’s detailed points.)
Surely, America is not a chosen nation like biblical Israel. Yet many Christians insist that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. And many of those same Christians want to continue increasing the military budget in what is already the most powerful nation in the history of the world…
Where’s the faith? It is an offense against the Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7) for Christians in the United States to cherish “In God We Trust” as a national motto while supporting Big Military. Real trust in God is accompanied by tangible evidence, not just by words printed on currency and uttered by politicians who manipulate the religious sensibilities of the American people. And yet many Christians watching the third Presidential debate will throw their support to the candidate they see as the biggest advocate of military might…in other words, the one least like Jesus. This is not as it should be for people who claim to follow the Lord. May God have mercy.
What about you? Do you think a large, powerful military is antithetical to “In God We Trust”? Does “In God We Trust” mean that America is a religious nation?