Super-Powered Jesus Flutters in the Wind
Can the U.S. really be a theocracy without a high-flyin’ national Christian flag? Well, now it has one.
By Will Braun
I’ll put this one in the I’m-a-Christian-but-not-that-kind-of-Christian category. A religious troupe in Maryland now sells a Christian Flag of the United States of America. According to the website they’re “loving [their] Jesus in the U.S. of A.” And they’ve got a flag to prove it.
The flag features an eagle carrying a blood-stained cross (“the American Christian taking the gospel around the world”); 50 stars around the border (“US Christians banding together to protect [their] right to preach the gospel”); and some apocalyptic punch courtesy of the Gospel of Matthew and King James (“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world…and then shall the end come” – chapter 24, verse 14). The gold-fringed edition goes for 50 God-trusting bucks.
Who, I wondered, could possibly have come up with such a blatant testament to the audacity of the evangelical spirit?
I e-mailed the flag’s designer, Marcia Thompson Eldreth. As a Canadian, I asked about the manifestly American nature of her creation. Marcia wrote back: “I suppose God called for this flag as He has a grand purpose for our nation in His plan for the nations.” Then, somewhat to my bewilderment, she said: “If there were an American mission set up in Canada, the flag would depict that mission there...the American Christian at work.”
The imperialistic undertones of the flag wavers are—well—as disturbing as they are predictable. In addition to a domestic agenda of “protecting the truth and liberty of God” within the US, their mission extends internationally as well. Their site is an ideological cocktail of religion, US expansionism, and neo-colonial pride. Speaking of US evangelistic outreach they say: “His favor has backed up our witness of Him in all nations.” Not to mention the guns that have backed up the witness.
The initiative’s press release—which reads like a bellowing sermon—leads with:
“On battlefields of old, armies would march into battle with the flag of the nation for which they were fighting. It was carried at the head of the fire line.”
As the song goes, “Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war.”
Elsewhere on the group's site is reference to the first permanent settlers on US soil; noble prayer warriors who erected an oak cross and dedicated their new land to “the propagation of the gospel”. The Virginia location of that inaugural settlement is now home to Pat Robertson’s "The 700 Club," which featured the flag on TV—the proud continuation of one God-blessed lineage of manifest destiny. One can only hope the indigenous people of the region got saved before they got decimated.
And on it goes. Thinking they will instill the fear God among the nations, the religious imperialists’ brand of holy patriotism instills only the fear of Rumsfeld’s warheads, Wolfowitz’s bank, and Condi Rice’s foreign affairs crusade. Or maybe that is the fear of God—a “God” the world is coming to fear.
The religio-right-wingers surely do not bring out the best in me. They make me so angry I feel like I need therapy to reconnect with the compassionate values of the real Jesus, and the world needs therapy to deal with the impact religio-America has on the global psyche. Perhaps the large segment of Americans-but-not-that-kind-of-Americans (Christian or not) are most deserving of therapeutic relief.
Religio-imperialism and Republicans go hand in hand, but the answer to its smug arrogance does not lie in politics. Dominionism and super-powered religion will not be conquered by plopping God on a Democratic donkey. The issue is far bigger than a mere partisan standoff and, although the Christian Right would loudly deny it, even bigger than God’s Chosen Country, the good old U.S.A. Humanity needs something deeper, richer, more meaningful. We need to organize and imagine a global village with a rich spiritual commons. We need to address the effects of the AIDS pandemic on the collective human spirit. We need creativity that calls humanity to drink of beauty, not Coca-Cola. We need an abundance of gentleness. We need a more humble face of Christianity than that of Mr. Bush. We need poetry and melody in response to rhetoric…and then shall the beginning come.
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Will Braun is a flag collector and editor of Geez magazine. The latest addition to his collection is the green and yellow of Saskatchewan.
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