I saw exactly two seconds of a clip of Condaleeza Rice standing at the podium of the Southern Baptist Convention before I flipped to a new channel. What I heard was Rice say with crowd-pleasing gusto: “the United States of America” , followed by hearty cheers, and I had had enouigh already. How entirely inappropriate and idolatrous, and how utterly predictable. The Southern Baptist Convention packed with delegates whose worship of America seems more energetic than their worship of God, or their seemingly entire lacking of any sense of a line being crossed into the idolatry of nationalism.
Some of the text of the speech:
So here, ladies and gentlemen, is the choice before our country, before us as Americans. Will we lead in the world or will we withdraw? Will we rise to the challenges of our time or will we shrink from them? America is a country of vast wealth and power, to be sure. But just as important, we are a nation of great compassion and conscience and democratic principle. So as we consider our future role in the world, we must reflect on some important questions. We must ask ourselves: If not for America, who would rally other nations to conscience to the international defense of religious liberty?
You see, religious freedom is an issue that demands moral clarity. And ladies and gentlemen, America’s message could not be clearer. Government simply has no right to stand between the individual and the All Mighty. (Applause.) If not for America, who would rally a great coalition and work to end the horrific international crime of human trafficking? Slavery did not end in the 19th century. It remains a tragic reality for thousands of people, mostly women and young girls, who are stolen and beaten and bought and sold like freight.
Under President Bush’s leadership, the United States has launched a new abolitionist movement to end the illicit trade in human beings. (Applause.) We are rooting out the perpetrators and helping to care for their victims. We are calling to account any nation that turns a blind eye to human trafficking. And we have made this promise to every person still held captive. So long as America has anything to say about it, slavery will have no place in the modern world. (Applause.) Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we must consider one further question which is this: If not for America, who would rally freedom-loving nations to defend liberty and democracy in our world? Nearly five years after the tragedy of September 11th, the United States is leading a great coalition of countries in a global war on terrorism. When possible, we are bringing terrorists to justice. And when necessary, we are bringing justice to the terrorists. (Applause.) This is the fate that our troops delivered last week to the terrorist Zarqawi and now he will never harm, he will never murder, he will never terrorize innocent people again. (Applause.) That is what America stands for. (Applause.)
—from state.gov (June 14, 2006)
So, “America’s Church” rolls on. Seemingly unable to distinguish Christ from Culture; unable to recognize the church as an alternative, but as an underwriter of a regime which brazenly thrusts its interests upon the rest of the world and calls it all “freedom and democracy”, and successfully enlists the unquestioned support of the churches as the churches move increasingly toward assimilating the language of nationalism into the language of theology, often by tacking “God” on the end of whatever “freedom-loving” statement that they can come up with.
And here we are, in the “Lent-like” period of American Nationalism between Memorial Day and Independence Day, and we see ads from churches as I did just a few minutes ago, which prompted me to remember Rice’s appearance, the SBC’s adoration of their political heroes, and the coming onslaught of “Celebrate America” services that are idolatrously called “worship services” that “America’s Churches” will be offering up to the public as their “witness” to the “greatness of Anerica”; and that one need not fear being a “Christian wierdo” if one particpates in Church, since church people can worship America too. God help us.