Can Muslims be Good American Citizens? -Thoughts on Christians and Politics
Just a little politics this morning but still from a Christian perspective. This post is longer than I usually do so please bear with me as I share some thoughts.
I happened to see a post on the internet that was also repeated several times on Facebook that asks the question, “Can Muslims be Good American Citizens?” I’ve been thinking about that post a lot and also about how politically radical some “Christians” have become. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that Christians have every right to be just as political as anyone else. What concerns me is how some of them co-mingle their rights as American citizens and their beliefs as Christians to come up with a “God loves us more than He loves you” kind of world view. That is what I want to talk about today.
We have heard repeatedly that this Country was founded on Christian Principles or Biblical principles of Judeo-Christian Ethics. However, the Judeo forms of government in the Old Testament were Judicial Monarchies and Kingly Monarchies. In the New Testament, the only human government ever even mentioned was a socialistic setup. How did the idea that our form of government was founded on Christian principles come about when there is no example in scripture of the people ever having a say so in their own governing? In addition, some of the foremost among the “Fathers” of our nation were not strictly “Christian” there were even deists in the mix (Franklin and Jefferson were deists, Washington harbored a pantheistic sense of providential destiny, John Adams began a Congregationalist and ended a Unitarian, Hamilton was a lukewarm Anglican). There is no mention of God in our Constitution and vague mentions of “Nature’s God” and the “Creator” in the Declaration of Independence (clearly Deist descriptions of God.)
The Constitution of the United States of America is an amazing document; however it is NOT a divinely inspired document as some have claimed in the recent years of political debate. Our Constitutional form of Government is the culmination of the thought process of some truly genius men who took the best from historic human governments and philosophers and molded it into a hybrid system that had not been previously seen in human history. Now did “providence,” as Benjamin Franklin claimed, have something to do with that? Absolutely. But to claim that it is divinely inspired – or even Christian – is, in my opinion, taking it too far. As to the point of Judeo-Christian Ethics, yes an argument can be made that our system of codified common law can be directly traced to the Ten Commandments and scriptural ethics of treating others as you would like to be treated. As can the laws of most modern civilizations.
This country was founded in large part because people were fleeing religious persecution. That is why our system of government and laws, exist the way they do. The puritans were persecuted in England, as were the Quakers. They came here to be free from the church-run monarchy in England. The reason our form of government came about was to allow people to govern themselves free from tyranny.
The First Amendment to the Constitution directly relates back to the tyranny of a church run monarchy. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, a church run government was not to be set up and everyone was given the power to freely exercise their religion. The First Amendment does not say that everyone is free to exercise Christianity; it says there shall be no law prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].
Indeed this Nation was founded by mostly Christian people, however that does not nor ever did make it an exclusively Christian Nation. As is pointed out clearly by a letter that George Washington wrote to the Jewish congregation of the synagogue in Newport in 1790 in which he said, in part;
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. (“Letter to the Jews of Newport”, 18 August 1790, Washington Papers, 6:284-85)
To say that the Constitution of the United States favors one religion over another flies in the face of what the framers of that Constitution were trying to establish in this country. This nation is supposed to be a nation that does not respect one person’s religion over another, a nation that does not allow believers of one religion to persecute believers of another religion. Are we now going to turn back the clock and return to a church-run tyrannical form of government?
To my point: to say that Muslims cannot be good American Citizens because they answer to a higher power is to also say that Christians cannot be good American Citizens because they also answer to a higher power. To say that Muslims cannot be good Americans because no other religion is accepted by Allah except Islam is to say that Christians cannot be good citizens because no other religion is accepted by God except Christianity. To say that Muslims cannot be good American Citizens because their allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran is to say that Christians cannot be good American Citizens because their allegiance is to the Bible.Almost every point in the “Muslim can’t be a good citizen post” can be applied to any other religion as well.
And now to the Christian perspective that I said I was going to talk about. As Christians, we need to live our lives according to the principles of the Kingdom and quit using God as a tool to whip others into submission. God loves all of His creation and the only reason we become enemies is not because God loves one group of people more than He loves another group but because of our own worldly, carnal disagreements. If we truly believe that our Muslim neighbors are our enemies then it is our responsibility to love them. As Jesus said,
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and theunrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:44 – 48.)
My answer to the question, can Muslims be good American Citizens? Is a wholehearted, YES!
“It is not up to the Government of the United States to be “Christian” it’s up to the Christians to be “Christian.”
If we can love our enemies and live our Christianity then the hatred, greed, fear and lawlessness will cease and we will no longer be enemies.
Grace and Peace