In his excellent book The Myth of a Christian Nation, Greg Boyd clearly shows that neither the US nor any other state can be Christian:
As we have noted, many Christians believe that America is, or at least once was, a Christian nation. We have argued that this notion is inaccurate for the simple reason that Christian means “Christlike”, and there never was a time when America as a nation has acted Christlike. Indeed, we have argued that it’s impossible for any version of the kingdom of the world to be Christlike for the simple reason that they participate in a system of dominion that necessarily places its trust in the power of the sword.
I totally agree. The church and the state should be seperate since the Kingdom of God is “not of this world”, the cross cannot partner with the tank. No Christian values can be enforced on people because enforcement is contrary to Christian behaviour. Jesus said that unlike political rulers, Christians should be servants instead of exercising authority. (Mt 20:25-28).
Thus, a Christian president is not necessarily a better president than a non-Christian. Rather, a Christian plumber is a better Christian than a Christian president. This is why I don’t see the victory of the Christian Barack Obama over the Mormon Mitt Romney as a giant triumph for the Kingdom of God or something like that. But I know that many American Christians think that church and state should be married and that God’s will is that the US should be a Christian nation. Thus, it is striking how many of them supported Mitt Romney in this election.
When Obama won the 2008 elections, lots of evangelicals tried to “prove” that he was a Muslim. Unlike the citizenship conspiracy theories, the Muslim accusation didn’t try to disprove the president juridically but morally – the underlying assumption was that a Muslim president is a bad president, who is unable to support Christian values (some even argued that he would implement sharia laws). Needless to say, the arguments for the Muslim Obama are horribly bad since he’s been a practioning Christian all his life, but still 20% of Americans believed it in the end of 2008.
However, it’s not a secret that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. He’s in fact a passionate one; belonging to a family with a Mormon heritage back to the days of Joseph Smith, Mitt has been serving as a Latter Day Saints lay clergy since the 80’s, and spent two and a half years in France as a missionary. What’s interesting are all the striking similarities between the LDS faith and Islam.
Both believe that the Bible contains doctrinal errors and that it is not the only canonical Scripture, that Christianity is not the religion Jesus taught, that a new prophet has restored the true religion and that the doctrine of the Trinity is heresy, for example. Furthermore, when it comes to doctrines where Mormonism and Islam differ, Mormonism and Christianity often differ on these as well, for example concerning that God the Father has flesh and bones, that he has a wife, that there are multiple gods, and that humans pre-exist before being born on earth.
Now, the ironic thing is that many of those conservative Evangelicals who warned us for the Muslim Obama highly endorsed the Mormon Romney. The WorldNetDaily for example obviously doesn’t see a problem with first trying to prove Obama’s Muslim beliefs by looking for secret codes in a ring he wears, and then trying to prove that the Bible tells us about how Romney will become a “fitting” and “perfect” president. A poll among evangelical Christians showed an increased support for Romney along with an increased knowledge that he is a Mormon. The old evangelical evangelist Billy Graham met Romney and promised to support him, and soon afterwards a statement describing Mormonism as a cult disappeared from Graham’s website.
What can explain this strange behaviour? I’m convinced that it is caused by the bireligiosity of American evangelicals, where Conservative patriotism is exercised as a religion parallell with their Christian beliefs. Boyd talks about how nationalism can become a form of idolatry in The Myth of a Christian Nation, and it indeed seems very religious in the US: the Constitution is holy Scripture that cannot be altered, the Founding Fathers (what a name!) are prophets, kids pledge allegiance to the holy flag every morning, independence day is a holiday bigger than Pentecost, etc.
Many Evangelical Christians belong to the American Patriotism Faith despite the fact that nationalism is nor supported in the New Testament. But Mormonism, which was founded in the US by ex-Christian patriots, effectively integrated the two religions into one. The LDS church really view the US Constitution as divinely inspired, they teach that the American aboriginals are Israelites to whom Jesus evangelised after His resurrection, and that Missouri is where Jesus will return. Based on this doctrines, American patriotism is very easy for Mormons to exercise, and Romney is defenitely not an exception of that (after all,his 2010 book was called No Apology: The Case for American Greatness).
So while Islam is viewed by many American Evangelicals as foreign or even hostile after 9/11, Mormonism is viewed as friendly since it lines up with the American Patriotism Faith. The fact that Islam and Mormonism share a lot of doctrinal heresy doesn’t matter, because these Evangelicals seem to view American Patriotism as more important in order to create a “Christian Nation” than actual Christian faith. This basically shows that idolatry is more common in the US that we may first have thought.