Lost in a sea of misattributions, but no less true, is the adage, “Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Enter Rep. Lauren Boebert, again. Her example illumines some sad but basic truths about politicians today. Specifically, her latest remarks were, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our founding fathers intended it.”
She added: “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution. It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.”
“Being elected to any public office does not bestow any special knowledge from which the person can draw upon and expound upon.”
First, Boebert reminds us that being elected to any public office does not bestow any special knowledge from which the person can draw upon and expound upon.
Second, Boebert inspires us to understand how high someone can rise with a GED education. While one’s education is not the decisive factor in what one can aspire to accomplish and in fact accomplish, unless one continues to grow one’s education by self-study, one can end up with limited knowledge and unlimited influence.
So in the last few weeks, Boebert has shown us how little she understands the faith she professes and, most recently, the Constitution she has sworn to protect and defend.
Let’s take this lapse of understanding and see what our Colorado representative gets wrong. Citing a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, Jefferson wrote, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Perhaps Boebert is unaware the author of the letter is the same person who pushed James Madison for an explicit Bill of Rights that would articulate the First Amendment, of which it appears Boebert is only marginally familiar and hugely misunderstands.
“The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices,” explains Cornell University Law.
The idea the church should direct the nation is a bizarre interpretation from a twisted understanding mostly likely rooted in the history of Israel and the covenant God had with them. Apples and turnips.
It should go without saying America is not Israel. Additionally, there is absolutely no biblical support for America being a Christian nation, or the church having some hierarchical claim over the government of the United States. “The church is supposed to direct the government” is a frightening relapse to state churches and religious wars which waged within nations as loyalties changed.
In a trip to England, we had an excursion to Ely to see the Cathedral of Ely. Because of the war between Catholicism and Anglicanism, the cathedral changed hands which also meant the villagers went from Catholic to Anglican because of the king’s decree.
The problem is government cannot dictate the heart of a person and whom he or she can or should or might worship. One might change the name on the cathedral but cannot touch the hearts of the worshipers.
Third, Boebert and her friends have not really considered what the United States would look like if her “flavor” of Christianity became a minority or another non-Christian religion became the majority religion in America. Or if, like much of Europe, America becomes mainly secular.
“The radical right wing Christian nationalism of which Boebert gives voice is an aberration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The radical right wing Christian nationalism of which Boebert gives voice is an aberration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Frankly, it is not the gospel at all.
Christian nationalism starts with idolatry. The very mention of the word should cause all believers to shudder. What is the god of Christian nationalism? It is an America which has never existed but idolized and worshiped. This nation was white ruled, a culture that shared some Christian values but mostly required people who did not conform to stay in the shadows or act in secret.
Christian nationalism is fueled by hypocrisy. For example, on Sunday the man sitting in the church pew, but at night in a white robe, a white shroud scaring African Americans, or hanging them. This America kept lots of secrets and kept a lot of things hidden. It also kept a lot of people oppressed.
Fourth, if one were to attribute divine inspiration to any part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights, I would see it in the First Amendment. The essence of a truly free people is free worship, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government to redress grievances. Within that First Amendment is also the genius of democracy: Christians can serve, but the government will not be controlled by any religion at any time in any way.
We have lived Boebert’s period of history. She has forgotten that is why people fled to the colonies.
Michael Chancellor served 33 years as pastor of four Baptist churches in Texas, seven years as a mental health manager in a maximum-security Texas prison and now is a therapist in private practice in Round Rock, Texas.
No, Pastor Jeffress (and others), America is not a Christian nation. And here’s why it matters | Opinion by Andrew Daugherty
A ‘Christian’ nation beset by false witness | Opinion by Bill Leonard