If you live in south central Pennsylvania, take some time tomorrow to go see my colleague Richard Hughes, distinguished professor and senior fellow at Messiah’s Boyer Center, who will be at the Camp Hill Barnes & Noble from 11:00am to 1:00pm signing copies of his new book, Christian America and the Kingdom of God. I read an early draft of this book and can attest that it will give those interested in the relationship between religion and politics a lot to think about. I hope Richard will get a chance to talk about the book.
With conviction and careful consideration, Hughes reviews the myth of Christian America from its earliest history in the founding of the republic to the present day. Extensively analyzing the Old and New Testaments, Hughes provides a solid, scripturally-based explanation of the kingdom of God–a kingdom defined by love, peace, patience, and generosity. Throughout American history, however, this concept has been appropriated by religious and political leaders and distorted into a messianic nationalism that champions the United States as God’s “chosen nation” and bears little resemblance to the teachings of Jesus.
Pointing to a systemic biblical and theological illiteracy running rampant in the United States, Hughes investigates the reasons why so many Americans think of the United States as a Christian nation despite the Constitution’s outright prohibition against establishing any national religion by law or coercion. He traces the development of fundamentalist Christianity throughout American history, noting especially the increased power and widespread influence of fundamentalism at the dawn of the twenty-first century, embodied and enacted by the administration of President George W. Bush and America’s reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.