“It was the largest church service I’ve ever seen.” I don’t think the NPR reporter who spoke these words knew how perceptive she was being. Sometimes mixing politics and religion produces a new religion.
From Obama‘s misuse of Scripture (1 Cor. 13:11) in his inaugural speech to the irreverence of the closing prayer, the evidence that Christianity has been remade into an American religion is obvious. Rick Warren himself prayed more as an American than as a Christian, including everyone present regardless of faith: “Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans–united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.”
We as worshippers in this great religion (call it “Americanity”?) are to leave this mountaintop inaugural revival in “the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family,” as the Rev. Lowery put it (apparently the good reverend forgot what Paul wrote in Romans 8:9). We are to take this power with us as we return “to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your [presumably God’s?] will.”
We have our marching orders and we have our hope, a hope illustrated in Scripture with the imagery of swords being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (cf., Isa. 2:4; Joel 3:10; Micah 4:3) which, for Christians, refer to the new heavens and new earth, but to adherents of the American religion, this hope is now made possible due to a newly inaugurated president.
Indeed, it was a large church service, but let’s be more clear on nature of the faith being practiced. And it’s not Christianity.