The Idol of Christian Secession

As has been articulated in the previous essay, “The Extent of Christian Secession”, the idea of Christian secession is, for the moment at least, restricted to Christians in the United States. Indeed, for reasons of geographic, political, and demographic viability, when we think of a group of traditionalist and orthodox Western Christians actually being successful in seceding from their home country to form a nation of their own, we are thinking, at present, exclusively of Christians in America. But having said all this, a consequent problem immediately arises: namely, what is to be done about the very strong patriotism and nationalism that many traditionalist Christians in America feel for the United States. The United States is, after all, one of the greatest countries and empires that the world has ever seen—if not the greatest—and so it is understandable that many Christians within its borders would feel a very strong affinity for it. And so, it is quite understandable that American Christians may not wish to be the fore which cuts such an impressive country in two. But what then does this Christian love of country mean for the prospect of Christian secession in America?

The Idol of America

 The first thing that needs to be said in response to the issue of America Christians’ affection for their country, is that while such a nationalistic affection is to be commended within certain limits, it cannot become an idol. And what this means is that for the true Christian—meaning the Christian who is a Christian first and foremost—love of country can never supersede love of God. As such, for the genuine Christian, the country that is the United States can never be more important than the Christian faith itself; if it is, then it is an idol.

Now, in most times and places within the United States, this prioritizing of faith over country would be a non-issue, for the country itself would not only grant its citizens the right to practice their faith freely, but it would also largely be a conservative Christian country in culture and social mood, thereby allowing both love of country and dutifulness to one’s Christian faith to easily co-exist. But times are changing, and soon orthodox Christian faithfulness and the demands imposed by the laws of the United States may seriously conflict, and so traditionalist American Christians may have a critical choice to make between one or the other. And while perhaps such a drastic conflict may not come about—for who but God alone knows what the future truly holds—the fact is that such a serious conflict is a very real possibility, and it is already occurring at a low-level in some sub-sections of American society, such as academia, thus meaning that orthodox Christians must genuinely consider the dilemma that such a conflict may create. Indeed, with the way that the cultural mood in the United States is shifting into a post-Christian era, and with little evidence of a reversal of this trend in sight, orthodox Christians must ask themselves:  If a choice had to be made between fealty to the United States or fealty to one’s Christian faith, which one would be chosen?

As orthodox and traditionalist Christians—if you are such a Christian—the manner in which you answer the aforementioned question will tell you if you are treating the United States as an idol or not; furthermore, the way in which you answer this question will also tell you if you are ready to be a part of the Christian secessionist movement or not.

Now, as an orthodox Christian, you may not take this question too seriously. In fact, you might even scoff at the idea that you would ever have to choose between the United States and your Christian faith. But nevertheless, treat this matter as a thought-experiment: seriously consider, in the depths of your soul, what you would do if, one day, you really had to choose between America and Christianity. Where would your ultimate loyalty lie? Would you be willing to secede from the United States if doing so meant the saving of Christianity in the West? Or is the unity of the United States too important for you to give up, regardless of what that means for Christianity in the Western world? As an American Christian, the way that you answer these questions will tell you whether Christianity is your priority, or whether the country that is the United States of America is actually your very own personal idol.

Bringing America With Us

 Now, if you are an American Christian, and if you may have wavered between choosing your faith over your country, but if you are still interested in the idea of Christian secession, or if you would simply rather not have to make the choice between faith and country, then I have good news for you. If you, as a Christian, love the United States so much that you would rather not leave it, then, even if Christian secession occurred, you would not have to leave that which you call the United States. And while this may sound paradoxical, especially since we are speaking of secession from the United States, let me explain what I mean.

If, on the one hand, you view the United States of America as a nation rather than just a country—meaning that you view it as being comprised of one people of largely the same shared heritage, history, ethnicity, religion, language, morality and creed—then, I am sorry to say, that America is already gone, and it is arguably never coming back within the current geographic boundaries of today’s United States. Indeed, in this day and age, America is a country composed of people with different histories, different religions, different languages, different moralities, different ethnicities, and different creeds; in essence, America is one country composed of numerous different nations. It is, in many ways, a multinational and multicultural empire held together through prosperity and benefits. Consequently, Christian secession will only make official what is already a de facto cultural and social separation among different nation groups and factions currently existent in today’s United States. So, for the Christian who thinks of the United States as a nation, and is thus worried about separating this nation, the fact is that the American nation—as defined above—has already been separated, and so there is no reason to worry about something which has already occurred in everything but name. Thus again, the secession of the American nation—as defined above—has already occurred at a cultural and social level; the only question left is whether to make that secession occur at the political level as well.

So, for this type of an American nationalist, the idea of secession should not be a massive concern given that such secession has already happened within the United States in a number of non-political respects; furthermore, and quite ironically, causing the secession to officially occur at a political level might actually bring back the traditional American nation at a cultural and social level as well once a formal secession occurs. Thus, making the secession official might be a way to actually restore the American nation as a nation within the new country that is formed as a result of secession. So, again, for the American nationalist of this type, secession is not only not a worry, but it may actually be a boon in the long run.

But now, what if, on the other hand, an American Christian views the United States as this thing called a “proposition nation”, meaning that it is a nation build on certain ideas and principles, and thus anyone who adopts those ideas and principles can be thought of as American in the relevant sense. Now, while the idea of a proposition nation is largely preposterous—after all, American citizens who do not believe the right propositions do not suddenly lose their American citizenship, nor are non-Americans who believe the right propositions somehow de facto Americans due to this fact—but nevertheless, since many people do believe that America is indeed a proposition nation, then let us assume the truth of this idea for the sake of argument.

So, if America is a proposition nation, then does secession threaten this nation of ideas? Indeed, if the United States is a proposition nation, then would secession make the people who secede from the United States non-Americans? Well, as counter-intuitive as it sounds, the answer to these questions is: of course not! Why? Because if America is indeed just a proposition nation, and if being American is just a matter of holding certain propositions, then any nation that holds such propositions is an “American” nation in the most critical sense, and any person who believes such propositions is an American in the most relevant sense. So, what this means is that even if Christian secession occurred, the new nation that such secession would create could be as American as America, and the citizens of that new nation could be as American as Americans currently are. Consequently, if being American is just being a person who believes and lives out a bundle of specific propositions, then anyone, in theory, can be American, and so secession does not threaten anyone’s ability to be a bona fide American. And so, Christian secession is no threat to the American Christian who views the United States as a proposition nation, for the same propositions can be adopted by different nations, and so any nation formed from Christian secession could be as propositionally American as apple pie.

Finally, if a person considers America to be a country which occupies a specific landmass—namely, the landmass of the present United States—then yes, secession would divide this landmass once it occurred. However, thinking of a nation as a very specific landmass is a foolish and unsound criterion on which to base what a nation is. And this is especially the case for a nation like the United States, which, throughout its history, has changed in landmass and borders numerous times and yet still remained ‘America’ when it did so. Now, while a nation may indeed be roughly tied to a particular geographical location—for example, when we think of Italians, we think both of a people and a specific place on the map—the truth is that the changing and shifting of borders in certain ways does not change the fact that the nation remains a nation even in light of such geographical shifts. And in the case of Christian secession in the United States, it must be remembered that the new nation that would theoretically be formed would be formed from the American landmass, and so would still be part of America in this sense. Thus, for the Christian American who sees the United States as being critically tied to the piece of land that it now occupies, secession would still occur on that same land, and so it would not be a shift away from the American landmass as such, but just the occupation of a smaller part of it by the new nation that secession would form.

So, in the end, the fact is that love of country is completely commendable in a Christian, and it is something that Christians should embrace, but it should not be embraced to the point of idolatry. Indeed, this risk of patriotic idolatry can blind a Christian to both the potential need as well as the practical possibility of something like Christian secession. Thus, the orthodox Christian, who is a Christian before anything else, must guard against this potentially dangerous form of nationalistic idolatry. And in the United States, this type of idolatry is particularly dangerous given the high esteem that many American Christians hold their country in. But luckily for such American Christians, Christian secession does not actually threaten their identities as Americans, given that that identity is either already gone in the multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic, multi-moral, and multi-creedal empire that is the present United States, or else that identity can simply be recreated through the construction of a new American proposition nation. So, for the American Christian in love with America, the idea of Christian secession is not the great threat that it might seem to be.

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