Americanism and Religion

Americanism is the Religious Fervor
Justifying American Expansionism

Americanism is a custom, trait or belief peculiar to the people of the United States {America} (Dictionary.com). This post will examine several major religious events that impacted American and world history; probably not for the better.

I am a student of the Scriptures born again by Christ alone, His grace alone, Scripture alone for God’s glory alone. I do not seek to denigrate biblical Christianity; however, I do seek to separate religious {works-based, anti-Gospel belief system} from biblical truth. As Paul wrote, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). We will explore the First and Second Great Awakenings, Manifest Destiny and the Social Gospel movement discovering how America used these to promote American expansionism.

The First Great Awakening was an individual-based Gospel salvation movement that sought to bring people to the true knowledge of Christ’s salvation. However, its unintended consequence fostered rejection of state-run churches which were part and parcel of governments. Rejection of one arm of the government transferred to other arms of the government. The article, Religion and the American Revolution (Divining America Religion in American History), discusses how this Great Awakening was co-opted to promote revolution, an anti-biblical movement (1Sa 15:22-23). Thomas Paine’s, Common Sense, written with religious fervor, promoted rebellion which God hates. Thus, this Gospel movement, which Thomas Paine despised, was used to form America and laid the foundation for our Americanism: religious justification for wars.

A religious philosophy formed and grew into what became known as Manifest Destiny (The Religious Origins of Manifest Destiny). First coined in an unsigned article in 1845, this religious philosophy justified the inclusion of Texas and the entire West until America occupied all the land coast to coast. Popularized in newspapers and presidential rhetoric this philosophy spawned westward expansionism bringing Americans into direct conflict with both the Plains Indians and the Mexicans. The Mexicans were defeated in the Mexican War as the U.S. Army invaded Mexico forcing them to sign over vast tracts of land. The constant wars with the Indians finally ended with the Battle of Wounded Knee (1890); more of a massacre actually. Americans expanded westward inhabiting these lands for God and country. Hollywood glorified this expansionism in movies and television in the 20th century.

This religious song sought to turn the
Civil War into a religious vice a tax war

Concurrent with Manifest Destiny was the Second Great Awakening (The Social Gospel and The Progressive Period; The Social Gospel and Socialism). This movement was less a Gospel centered movement and more a social morality movement with long-lasting consequences that destroyed the American Republic. The immediate result of this moralistic movement was a crystallization of moral beliefs that allowed no compromise. This Protestant movement began the process that destroyed biblical salvation in what became known as the mainline Protestant denominations. The abolitionists grew from this movement agitating for emancipation of the slaves via armed aggression if necessary rather than through compensated emancipation that was practiced by other Western nations without war. Their rhetoric inflamed Southern states into succession {threatened by New England in early 1800s}. It was only when the Republican Party faced defeat in the elections that President Lincoln mobilized abolitionist fervor with his impotent Emancipation Proclamation (though it nearly back-fired as the North was as prejudiced as the South resulting in riots as in New York City, 1863). The ultimate outcome of this awakening was the philosophy that change could only come via government rather than private intervention.

The Union victory destroyed the founding plank of state’s rights in lieu of centralized government. Linking God with victory via the song, Battle Hymn of the Republic (even though the Civil War destroyed the Republic), the federal (Republican) government expanded its power encouraging corruption and economic boom and bust cycles. The early fruits of the Second Great Awakening blossomed into the Progressive Era and its concomitant Social Gospel movement that belittled the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone. Now, Protestantism sought to link salvation with social works as Catholicism had linked salvation with Church works {Sacraments}. This promoted Christian socialism that seeped into nearly every aspect of American society.

This marriage of socialism and religion would produce two pledges to make every person a willing participant in the move toward American socialism. Francis Bellamy’s, Pledge of Allegiance, instructed Americans to worship both the indivisible nation and its flag. This later gave birth to the Church flag and pledge (Do You Know the History of the Christian Flag?) conflating nationalism (patriotism) with religion. The Pledge of Allegiance became required in every school for nearly 100 years and is still practiced today in many schools. But, to support American expansionism a strong military is essential.

Since America had accomplished its Manifest Destiny the nation now turned its attention to overseas expansionism. Theodore Roosevelt (TR) saw the changing political winds and jumped on the Progressive bandwagon though a member of the Republican Party. He pursued American expansionism encouraged by A. T. Mahan’s book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660–1783; in fact, nearly every major naval power read this book that justified national expansion via sea power based on modern technology. Thus, TR prepositioned Admiral Dewey’s Pacific Fleet before the Spanish American War so that upon start of hostilities America could capture the Philippines. America had its colonies abroad and with Rudyard Kipling’s encouragement and poetry (The White Man’s Burden), among others, America, self-declared land of the free, refused to give the Philippines its independence. Oh, how the nation basked in its self-proclaimed glory and the military that gave it its empire {causing Japan to attack America in 1941}!

Originally, the authors of the Constitution did not want a standing army fearing it would become a tax collecting arm of the federal government; they were correct. The first use of this army was by President Washington to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, a revolt against a tax on whiskey. Then the Army was used to violently effect Manifest Destiny during the 19th century. In addition, the Army was used to gain territory from Mexico and even against its own citizens to enforce tariffs {taxes} on the Southern states. Finally, the American Navy flexed its muscle to gain America its empire. Americans were encouraged to worship its victorious military might as the means to project its religious Americanism onto the world. Today Americans have more holidays devoted to its military than to the Savior and even these are so infused with error and Gnosticism as to be more pagan than Christian in observance!

Christians, we are to obey the government as Christ demonstrated and Paul also wrote (Ac 4:18-20; Ro 13:1-5); however, this does not mean we are to encourage the government in its religious Americanisms that seek to use God to justify its unbiblical actions. We do not blindly serve the government but neither do we rebel. We are to be wise to the ways of Lucifer and his governments and non-threatening toward them for our kingdom is not of this world (Mt 10:16-20; Jo 18:33-37). If we are blinded by the god of this world also then who will preach the Gospel to those who are perishing (2Co 4:3-6; 2Th 2:9-12)? If the Pledge of Allegiance is a test of faith then it is a testament to the faith in socialist America formed by and held together by its military {even its civilian police force is being converted into a paramilitary force against its citizens}. Let us stop worshiping the government and go about Christ’s business of preaching the Gospel. God did not create America in contravention of His word nor can He bless America who conflates faith in Him with faith in country; One is from above, the other from below. Let us bless His name by worshiping Him alone, Amen.

 

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today’s churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master’s of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).