The Religious Right is furious. Yes, I’m aware that there’s nothing new about that … they’re in an almost perpetual state of outrage over something, at any given moment. Outrage and sanctimoniousness are the glue that binds the Religious Right together and makes them what they are.

I’m referring, specifically, to remarks President Obama made in Turkey recently, in which he dared say those “Profane Words” for which the Religious Right is now vilifying him: “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” Here is a CNN report on his speech, and below is video of this part of it:

You would have thought the heavens had opened and the sky collapsed around us, if the Religious Right pundits and raging talk-show guys were to be believed. Unfortunately for them, not only is Obama correct, this is also not the first time this claim has been made, in an official capacity by the US government.

First, let’s be absolutely clear on this point: The US is not a Christian nation. It may be a Christian-majority nation, but it is not a “Christian nation.” It just is not, never was, and hopefully never will be.

The Religious Right typically refuses to acknowledge this, but it is nevertheless not only true, it’s documented and verifiable.

What’s more, Obama’s statement is not the first official disavowal by the US of being a “Christian nation.” Perhaps the best-known example of when this happened, is in the Treaty of Tripoli dated to 1796. Article 11 of this treaty states, “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion … .” Given this, it’s clear Obama has said nothing new … not only nothing new in a factual sense, but also not new in an official sense.

That Obama made these remarks in Turkey, of all places, is historically significant: While Turkey is a majority-Muslim nation, its government is fully secular, and was designed as such in the wake of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman regime. This design was purposeful, and intended to prevent sectarian violence, or worse, co-opting of the state by a sect. By making this statement in Turkey he is acknowledging the historic parallel between the two countries, and this comparison is apt. (Also, it’s arguable that the establishment of Turkey’s secular government was inspired by the example of the US.)

It’s high time for the Religious Right to grow up, accept that a president they personally dislike is in office, and stop complaining about everything he does. They also need to accept that the US is not a Christian nation, no matter how much they wish it were so.

They also need to understand that Jesus himself was completely uninterested in politics or statecraft. He was interested in the spiritual, and offered spiritual teaching; politics was not spiritual, but physical, however, and he was not concerned with it. He was, in fact, explicit and unambiguous on this point, having famously said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (See Mt 22:21, Mk 12:17, and Lk 20:25 if you have any doubts.) By trying to establish a government on Christianity, they are, themselves, profaning Jesus’ own message. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for doing so … but of course, they aren’t.

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