On the eve of the Presidential Inauguration, Sara Preisig examines Christian values and wonders if instead of being a Christian nation we aren’t more of an X-ian nation.
Remember how back in the ’70s people complained about the use of X-mas instead of Christmas? My grandma hated it because for her it showed the loss of the true meaning of the holiday. Everyone seemed to agree, in principle, but that couldn’t stop the overtaking of Christmas as a time of commercialism, materialism, and capitalism at its finest. What once was a period of joyful exchange of well-thought gifts (frequently handmade) became a time to go into debt to try to impress somebody or merely satisfy others’ most materialistic desires.
Today, 30-some years later, it is not even thought about or remarked upon as we prepare for Black Friday weeks ahead of time and are bombarded with email advertisements to “buy early and save” for Christmas. But things haven’t stopped there. Maybe some of you remember when George W. Bush spoke about how we are a Christian nation and so would prevail over the axis of evil that had dared to attack us. At the time, I criticized the fact that his speech was exclusive of the non-Christians in our country, not to mention a tad hypocritical (or just medieval) in that it accompanied a call to hunt down and kill terrorists, civilian casualties be damned. I thought we had reached a pinnacle in our misuse of Christian as an adjective for our country.
This year, however, I find myself almost nostalgic for those good old days of political duplicity. Our self-proclaimed conservative Christian party put forth—albeit somewhat against its better judgment—a candidate who won our presidential election based on lies, defamation, racist and sexist remarks, hatred, and greed. Time and again it has been shown that he is dishonest, unkind, motivated by selfish and hateful thoughts, and mocking of our country’s supposed core values. His adultery, sexual misbehavior, and refusal to even show regret for his past only contribute to his overall anti-Christian behavior. And yet millions of conservative Christians who beat their Bibles and speak as if they alone hold the moral high ground came out to vote for him because they couldn’t stand the idea of having as their president a woman who may have shown poor judgment and taken risks with information that, in the end, caused no damage.
What do they, the Christians, reproach her for? Being for socialized medicine to be sure everybody can get healthcare? Suggesting we tax the ultra-rich in order to help fund programs for the less fortunate? Having forgiven her husband for his past transgressions? Wanting to improve our chances of saving the earth from coal and oil production and consumption by investing in clean and renewable energy sources? Hoping to improve the lives of women and their babies by making birth control available? Wanting people to be able to live together where nobody has to be so terribly desperate that they want to commit crimes and take vengeance on others? Or is it because she agrees that black lives matter, that immigrants are still humans, and that guns do indeed lead to violent deaths?
When our “Christian” population lashes out so strongly against intentions that Jesus would most likely have applauded in favor of those he would have condemned, I cannot help wondering if we haven’t reached a point where we should rather refer to the U.S. as an X-ian nation. I grew up in a Protestant family and, while I don’t actually believe in Jesus or another God, I do believe in the basic tenets of the faith: love, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness versus hate, meanness, greed, and resentment. I wonder what, if any, faith is practicing those today, because it obviously isn’t mainstream American Christianity.