Christian Supremacy

Christian Supremacy

Christian supremacy refers to two different but related ideas
*During the era of Western imperialism, the belief that Christians had a right and duty to rule over non-Christian peoples
*The belief that Christianity (or one particular interpretation of it) must be the supreme rule of society. This usage of the term is generally limited to liberal critics and advocacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and political commentators such as David Corn of the "Nation" magazine, although some activists self-identify as Christian supremacists.

Christian supremacy abroad

Christian supremacy as a basis for colonization appears in the papal bull "Inter caetera" of 1493, addressed to the royal families of Spain and Portugal:

:"Whereas, after earnest consideration of all matters, especially of the rise and spread of the Catholic faith, as was the fashion of your ancestors, kings of renowned memory, you have purposed with the favor of divine clemency to bring under your sway the said mainlands and islands with their residents and inhabitants and to bring them to the Catholic faith."

This arrangement worked to the financial benefit of the Roman Catholic Church, but other powers would continue to cite a moral duty to spread the faith, without such a direct benefit to churches. In 1899 United States president William McKinley told a group of clergymen his justification for ordering a military occupation of the Philippines:

:"... there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them"

The day after the September 11, 2001 attacks, columnist Ann Coulter wrote in reference to supporters of Islamist terrorism, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."

Christian supremacy and society

The idea that temporal affairs must submit to Christianity appears in the papal bull "Unam sanctam" of 1302. This document reasserted the Church's authority over European kings as the supreme political power in Europe. Today Christian supremacy more typically means that politics and culture must submit to Christian "principles", rather than to spiritual leaders personally. This view remains widespread in the United States, under the slogan, "the United States is a Christian nation." In its most extreme strains, Christian Supremacy takes the form of Christian Reconstructionism, also called Hard Dominionism.

United States

First Amendment Establishment Clause

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The interpretation of this clause, and the "separation of church and state" it has been found to require, have been contentious over the course of the nation's history. Although Christian Supremacy has predominated in the United States for much of its history, by world standards the level of tolerance of religious minorities has been quite high.

Blaine Amendments

Ironically, much of the origin of the official secularism that is widely accepted in the United States today, and which Christian Supremacists now strongly oppose, can be traced to policies established in the 19th and early 20th centuries to "Americanize" Catholics by preventing them from bringing their faith into the public square to the same degree to which American Protestants did.

"Blaine Amendments" to state constitutions were passed under the guise of maintaining separation of church and state, although to that point in time that concept had not been broadly applied. The name comes from the mid-1870s efforts in the of Congressman James Blaine, with the support of President Ulysses S. Grant, to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit public funding for nonpublic religious schools. Compulsory Christian religious education in a nonsectarian Protestant manner was common in the United States until the later part of the 19th Century, at which time the growing population of Roman Catholics began to oppose the exclusive use of the King James Bible in public schools. As part of such opposition, many Catholics defected to Catholics schools for which they sought state funding.

Christianity in relation to other religions

Critics such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State argue the claim that the United States is a Christian nation is of questionable historic validity, is ethnocentric, and reduces secularists and members of other religions (such as Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism) to second-class status. Religious historians, like Nathan Hatch, Mark Noll and others, also suggest that modern fundamentalists are nostalgic for a time that never really existed as they imagine it: a time in the indefinite past, before the turbulent sixties, when wholesomeness, and sanity, and harmony prevailed under a benevolent religion much as they conceive their own to be. Fact|date=June 2007

While most who consider themselves Evangelical oppose theocracy, many conservative Evangelicals, among them Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson, have asserted that Christianity should enjoy a privileged place in American public life according its importance in American life and history. Accordingly, those Evangelicals often strenuously oppose the expression of other faiths in schools or in the course of civic functions. For example, when Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala became the first Hindu priest to offer an invocation before Congress in 2000, the September 21 edition of the online publication operated by the Family Research Council, "Culture Facts", raised objection:

:While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage. Our Founders expected that Christianity--and no other religion--would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.

Proponents of prayer in school nearly always intend monotheistic prayer and strongly oppose such substitutions as "one nation under the gods" for the official wordings. For instance, in the dissenting opinion in the supreme court case MCCREARY COUNTY, KY v. ACLU OF KENTUCKY, which found certain displays of the Ten Commandments in public buildings unconstitutional, justices Scalia, Rehnquist, Thomas and Kennedy wrote:

:One cannot say the word "God," or "the Almighty," one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation's historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists. The thanksgiving Proclamation issued by George Washington at the instance of the First Congress was scrupulously nondenominational-but it was monotheistic.

Homosexuality and obscenity

The decision of the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas provoked outrage among Christian supremacists. One of the decisive issues in the case was whether or not conduct may be outlawed because it offends a specifically Christian-based morality. The vast majority of contemporary psychologists and doctors does not consider homosexuality a deviant or harmful behavior; historically, public disapproval (and criminalization) of homosexuality has been based on Christian theology. Recent state and federal cases have ruled in relation to both homosexuality and obscenity laws that it is unconstitutional to criminalize activities by appealing to explicitly Christian ethics and moral standards. This development is found to be outrageous by Christians who believe that Judeo-Christian ethics should form the basis of the nation's laws, even in cases where non-Christians find no moral basis for criminalizing a given behavior.

cientific inquiry

Some conservative Christians deem the following conclusions of "scientific inquiry" that does not conform to Christian theology. Research rejected or otherwise challenged on this basis includes topics such as:
*evolutionary biology
*paleontological studies of evolution
*experimentation with human embryos
*hypotheses of a biological origin for the occurrence of homosexuality
*theories of genetic predispositions to homosexuality
*studies concerning the risks associated with abortion
*child sexuality

elf-identified Christian supremacists and groups

* Roy Moore
* Alan Keyes
* Pat Buchanan
* Constitution Party (United States)

People and groups sometimes accused of being Christian supremacists

* Focus on the Family
* James Dobson
* Jerry Falwell
* Pat Robertson
* "The 700 Club"
* Bob Jones III

ee also

* Fundamentalist Christianity
* Dominionism
* Christian Reconstructionism
* Ceremonial deism

External links

* "Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem--and What We Should Do About It" by Noah Feldman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 (ISBN 0-374-28131-9)
* [ A Letter to James Dobson] , by William Gould, "The Christian Statesman", September–October 1996

Criticism of Christian supremacy

* [ "One nation, divisible" by Michelle Goldberg in]
* [ "GOP's `Christian nation'" by Cathy Young in the Boston Globe]
* [ "Hindu Prayer in Congress Criticized" by Jim Abrams for the Associated Press]
* [ "Ann Coulter's Religious War" by David Corn in the]

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