Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Conflating God and country is sickening

Friday, March 29, 2024
Article Image Alt Text

When people with allergies go into anaphylactic shock, they often report a sense of impending doom coming on just before the event begins.

I’ve been allergic to peanuts all my life. Though I’ve had many allergic reactions, I’ve never reached full-blown anaphylaxis. But there have been a handful of times where I genuinely struggled to breathe, and on one such occasion I remember a similar sense of doom overtaking me.

I even remember trying to think through what I wanted to tell my family before I died.

Anaphylactic doom is an admittedly extreme comparison, but sometimes when I see a particularly devastating piece of news or hear the recounting of a traumatic event from a friend, a similar, albeit smaller, sensation will come upon me.

I spent the introduction of this column explaining this sensation because I felt a small-scale version of it Wednesday.

I felt it when I saw the words “ Holy Bible” and “God Bless the USA” written together on the cover of a Bible.

Forget that this Bible is now being peddled by former President Donald Trump as part of his ongoing effort to diversify his revenue streams amidst mounting court losses, not to mention an election campaign.

Yes, it’s hilarious and ridiculous that Mr. “Two Corinthians” has entered into what amounts to a college athlete’s NIL deal so that he can make money by continuing to pull the wool of his fake Christianity over the eyes of evangelicals across the country.

But the person behind this doesn’t really matter to me. That’s not where my sense of doom comes from.

No, when I laid eyes on a picture of the cover of this Bible — with the image of an undulating American flag wrapped around the word of God — I realized it was a perfect encapsulation of all the dread and sorrow I’ve been feeling for years over the twisted symbiosis of religion and politics that has proliferated in our culture.

How did we get to the point where elevating a 250-year-old nation founded by fallible, imperfect humans to a place alongside the timeless, infallible Word of God (at least to Christians) would be seen as desirable?

What happened to the Church in this country that we would look at a copy of our sacred text, the words of our Creator, and rejoice to see copies of the Constitution and Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag printed alongside it?

When did Christianity become nothing more than a merchandising opportunity?

I love mixing elements of things I’m a fan of. As I type this column there’s a Spider-Man print on my wall, a Chicago Cubs ball cap on my head (Opening Day!) and a T-shirt from a video game on my torso.

But the Word of God is not a crossover episode.

Our culture has become enraptured with tying our personal identities into the brands and people that we like and follow. I watch this show, I wear these clothes, I belong to this political party, I’m a fan of this actor, I vote for this candidate — and that becomes who I am.

The Church, it seems, has not stood firm against this cultural tide.

Thus “I’m a Christian” gets demoted to the level of, and mixed in with, “I’m an American” and “I’m a Republican/ Democrat.”

If you’re someone who doesn’t believe in the Christian God, and you looked at this “God Bless the USA” Bible and took it to mean that American Christians hold their allegiance to their God and their allegiance to their country on the same level, I couldn’t blame you at all.

This Bible — and the fact that it will inevitably sell like hotcakes — shows me that for some of us, our Christianity is just another cultural signifier to add to our label of identities.

Jesus Christ, Donald Trump, the American flag, the Holy Bible, the Constitution — roll it up in one pretty package and sell it for 60 bucks a pop.

It’s not just something ridiculous to laugh at. It’s vile. It’s a malicious attempt to exploit Christians who have let culture dictate their allegiances and priorities.

The teachings of Christ have been around for millennia and have impacted nations and communities across the entire globe. The Bible was changing lives before the United States was founded, and it’ll still be here when this nation crumbles into dust.

The Church would do well to remember that.

Caleb Daniel is the Ruston Daily Leader’s Digital News Editor. Caleb is a Louisiana Tech University graduate who covers the police jury and schools for the Ruston Daily Leader.