Mr. Rich seems to be especially frightened by the stubborn persistence of Christian expression in our society. Unspoken is the question, "Why have we not outgrown this by now?" As if our faith represented something to be ashamed of or detested. Maybe to him it is.
He fails to understand a lot about Biblical Christianity. I say Biblical Christianity because there are indeed two faces of Christianity in our nation and in the world. One is fairly innocuous to committed secularists because it poses no perceived threat to their aspirations and agenda. It adheres to the outward forms of Christianity but pitched the core teachings of the faith under the bus long ago. Many such organizations today claim the title of Christian. But they often deny the authority and veracity of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, the lost state of humanity apart from Christ, etc. They substitute for biblical zeal a different set of enthusiasms. Abortion rights, climate change, social justice, LGBT equality, environmental issues, etc. They are ok with his vision for the nation because it closely mirrors their own. Mr. Rich cannot separate extremists from the rest of the believing population and neither can many on the "Christian Right." An example of a similar bit of "tunnel vision": To an Arab, if one is not a Jew or a Muslim and comes from Europe or North America, then one is a Christian. To many Americans, someone from the Middle East is a "rag-head." Anyone coming from that region is viewed as a potential terrorist. Never mind that such a one may or may not adhere to a radical jihadist philosophy. Never mind that such a one might be Sunni, Sufi, Shia or belong another sect. Everyone gets judged by the few. Rich sees "Christians" as a threat; a real and present danger to the republic, if not to the world. He especially confuses "fundamentalists" with the politically power-hungry. For the record, a fundamentalist is someone who actually believes what their faith teaches. Nothing more. He cannot seem to separate those who follow Christ from those who follow the Christian Coalition. I certainly agree with much of the Christian Coalition's stated positions, but I follow Christ, not a PAC or party platform.
Mr. Rich especially gets worked up over those proclaiming America a "Christian nation." The founding fathers indeed based much of our founding principles on Biblical concepts. Some of these men were Christians, some were Deists and others free-thinkers. Men like Jefferson and Franklin certainly respected the Bible and were biblically literate, but they cannot be said by any stretch, to have been Christians. Their own writing militates against that. And true enough, there have been some popular (and revisionist) historians in our camp who have tried to make our founders out to be Bible believing men when they were not, or at best merely might have been. He fears a religious coup de main at the ballot box by radicals that will impose a theocracy on our country. He (and members of the political right) might do well to remember that our nation was set up so as not to establish an official state church. Not freedom from religion but freedom of religion. And, as uncomfortable as it makes people of his persuasion, people, be they atheistic, moralistic, agnostic or believers in a faith, vote. The unspoken but very real fear that he communicates is that a Biblically committed majority may come to real political power and remake the nation in, gasp, a more Biblical image and undo decades of secularist "progress."
For one, he fails to see the difference between people who adhere to Biblical faith from those who use said Biblical faith to advance a political agenda. As has been pointed out numerous times in the past few years, the Democratic Party has viewed ethnic minorities, LGBT, environmental activists and feminists as a locked up and dependable voting block. But the Republican Party has also treated evangelical Protestants, Mormons and Catholics the same way. And there is a grain of truth to the criticisms leveled at both sides. Only an absolute ninny votes a straight party ticket. Such usually take the voting guide with them to the polling station and mechanically vote straight down the line with the party that they have self-identified with. And it might likely be the first time they have actually glanced at it. Dumb. Just plain dumb. Some "ministries" put out voter guides. Some can be useful if they accurately portray the voting records and/or stated positions of a slate of candidates. Many are deceptive and cannot be trusted.
The sheep need to wake up. Mr. Rich's fear is that anyone evangelical is a mere sheep (just like the sheep he writes for, if he was honest). We are seen as ignorant, easily manipulated masses whose stubborn religious "superstitions" just may result in a like-minded majority making it into government and legislating from the position of Biblical values for the population at large. He doesn't seem to remember that that is precisely what the secularists are hoping to do from their vantage point. Both sides will do well to ponder the story of Savonarola. Doesn't ring a bell? Type the name into your search engine and check him out. You might find his story instructive.
In the mean time, I admonish us all to get our heads out of the sand and do two things: watch and pray, and study people, parties and records. Yeah, I know that it is a pain, but we had better do it. There is much ignorance on both sides of the culture war and none of it bodes well for the present or future of the nation.
Finally, the strident voices on either side of the national argument should be toned down. They won't tone it down on their own - they posture for dollars. The pundits, with a few exceptions are prostitutes, selling vitriol for sponsor dollars. If it hasn't occurred to you this stuff is big business and, for the most part, is all about generating revenue. Franken, Coombs, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, ET AL are entertainers vying for listeners, viewers and dollars. Some may truly hold the views that they espouse, but I suspect that many seek to cater to a certain target audience for the aforementioned reasons. A steady diet of such drivel can and will warp a person. Remember Psalm 1:1-6. Blessed is the man or woman who does not go to people for answers who do not have them. Blessed is the one who seeks God's counsel. What do you feed your mind and soul on day in and day out? Shut off the radio or TV and open your Bible, or at least give the Word priority. Or risk the very real specter of becoming exactly the caricature of the "Christian" conservative feared by Mr. Rich and his ill-informed ilk.
Was our nation founded on biblical principles? Yes, to some extent. But do not forget that it also limited franchise to property-owning white males and accepted slavery.
It was a mixed bag. Has our faith molded our nation? Again, yes to a fairly large extent. But what did the shaping was not political action or social work. It was the gospel. This nation will not and cannot be changed for the better at the ballot box alone. To change society lives must be altered - one at a time. And it of necessity has to start with the church. It is relatively easy to buy into a campaign or party. It is far more demanding to love God and our neighbor as ourself. But, it is also much more powerful.