nationundergodbook

A fiction dystopia of a future theocratic USA in 2073

WHAT IF WE LOSE CHURCH & STATE SEPARATION?

My novel is about theocracy

Differences between healthy and unhealthy religion

Religion, over thousands of years of human history, has been a force that has provided great strength, comfort, inspiration, and spiritual guidance for people. Religion has also been a source for hatred, violence, prejudice and bigotry toward people who are different or who believe differently.

Healthy religion builds bridges and not walls or barriers.

We might think about how the religious people of Jesus’ time  {aka – the Pharisees} were intent on defining who were the insiders and who were the outsiders.  They had drawn the circle pretty small and had erected walls and barriers to keep out the sinners, the people who were impure and not like themselves. And the Gospels tell us that Jesus aroused the anger of those religious leaders by welcoming into God’s family all those impure people.  Jesus becomes the role model for using his relationship with God to build bridges rather than walls.

Religion has been used not only to justify the demonization of some people whom we deem different and therefore inferior, it has even been used to justify hatred and tragic violence.

Here is another accurate measure for us in discerning the healthiness of any religion. Does a religion teach people to be more compassionate, to practice compassion and kindness toward others?

Or does it teach intolerance, absolutism, and judgmental legalism?

Another question to consider is, “Does it encourage people to use their minds?”  Another part of this question is; How does a religious expression relate to scientific inquiry?  Does it see science as an enemy or as an ally?

Do you remember that the Catholic church attacked Galileo and Copernicus for daring to assert the possibility that the earth is not the center of the universe?  In fact the Catholic church only removed Galileo from their list of bad people only about five years ago. How does a faith relate to science?

“Does a faith emphasize love or fear?

Does it use as a motivator of people fear and guilt? Healthy religion will concentrate much less on fear and much more on the concept of love.

Christ liberates followers from LEGALISM

The Puritans of 17th and 18th century America were famous for the legalistic, puritanical judgment, and their forms of punishment for people who did not keep the Sabbath.
For example, two lovers – John Lewis and Sarah Chapman – were tried for sitting together on the Lord’s day under an apple tree; and put in the stocks.   When another man who had fallen into some water absented himself from church to dry his only suit of clothes, he was found guilty and publicly whipped.
Punishments were almost always public, for the aim was to humiliate the wayward sheep and teach him/her a lesson so that he/she would repent and be eager to find his or her way back to the flock.  Nothing made a colonial magistrate happier than public confessions of guilt and open expressions of remorse – followed by public shaming, or BRANDING, or cutting off ears and noses, or extreme whipping, or possibly hanging.
And, just like today’s puritanical Christians, Sex was given special attention.
The records tell of hundreds of colonial sinners forced to sit in the stocks in public view for sexual immorality.  On more than one occasion, the missiles thrown at the heads of those being shamed  in the stocks, resulted in their death.
In 1642, Edward Preston was sentenced to be publicly whipped at both Plymouth and Barnstable – 20 lashes each, “for his lewd practices.”  Whipping sentences usually stipulated that the stripes be “well laid on,” as the phrase went.  That meant whipping until the blood ran freely – and the flesh was hanging off in ribbons.
Often the ears of the punished were nailed to the wood on either side of the head hole in the pillory  Crowds loved a good ear nailing. In 1648 in Maryland, John Goneere, convicted of perjury, was “nailed by both ears to the pillory – 3 nails in each ear and the nails to be slit-out, and then he was whipped 20 severe lashes.”
CW Journal : Spring 03 : Colonial Crimes and Punishments /  Colonial Crimes and Punishments; by James A. Cox  for  Colonial Williamsburg Journal

http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/spring03/branks.cfm

For followers of Jesus, there must be more than mere legality.   WHEN LEGALISM ENTERS THE PICTURE, we form an obsession with law.    At the heart of these religious errors is a misunderstanding of the Lord of the Sabbath — Jesus is NOT supposed to be “SHERIFF JESUS!”
As Saint Paul has told Christians, Christ came to set us free from the law, not to make us slaves to the legalism of the Pharisees – OR THE PURITANS.

God Save Us from 21st Century Puritans

.  Puritans were among the early European Colonialists  who came and stayed on the eastern coast of America. They had been subjected to intolerance of their religious beliefs and practices in Europe, and celebrated their new freedom in America by establishing a theocracy. Historians have well studied, and documented, just how tyrannical and totalitarian their ‘civilization’ became, and just how great the number of atrocities committed among Puritans “In the name of God,” and for the sake of ‘PURITY’; at least, as they interpreted Biblical Standards. 

Sexual morality was given special attention by the Puritans. The records tell of hundreds of colonial sinners forced to sit in the stocks in public view for sexual immorality.  For example, in 1656 Captain Kemble of Boston was put in public stocks for two hours for his “lewd and unseemly behavior,” which consisted of kissing his wife in public on the Sabbath on the doorstep of his house after his return from a three-year voyage.   Unfortunately, American Puritanism deeply infected the DNA of the USA. The country continued for hundreds of years without ever fully escaping the bane of the Puritanical, moralistic views regarding SEXUAL PURITY.

After the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1973, published the ruling of Roe v Wade, the struggle began with renewed intensity.  “Roe v Wade” seemed to punctuate the advancing civil rights movements of both feminism, and a sexual revolution.  This was far too much for the ‘purityrannical’ descendants of the Puritans. 

About the Author of Nation Under God

Jim Luallen is an ordained Elder of the United Methodist Church. For most of the past 28 years, he has served as pastor of churches in the Rocky Mountain region. He is married, with two young adult sons. In addition to serving churches, Jim has been a very involved activist for women’s reproductive freedom, religious freedom, and basic human rights. He is a Christian clergyman who supports “Faith, Family, and a Woman’s Right to Choose.” In 1996, he was presented with the “Faith and Freedom” award by The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. He is currently working on a sequel to Nation Under God.  

Thomas Jefferson and the USA Constitution

Thomas Jefferson was a man of deep religious conviction

His conviction was that religion was a very personal matter, one with which the government had no business getting involved.

He was vilified by his political opponents for his role in the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

As the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which prohibited government interference in people’s religious beliefs, Jefferson took a hard line in this regard, and it isn’t difficult to imagine where he would stand on current debates about prayer in public schools, say, or faith-based funding for social projects.

If there is one field of constitutional law, and law generally, where Jefferson was amazing, it’s the separation of church and state.  He thought the alliance of religion and government corrupted both, and that that endangered the liberty of the individual mind.

What if God and Country were indistinct?

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