July-August 2021 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

A new Bible, called “The God Bless the USA Bible” that links the scripture contained in it to America, will go on sale soon.

The Bible has been criticized for promoting Christian nationalist themes. It includes the King James Version of the Bible, the text of the U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance and the words to “God Bless the U.S.A.” (by singer Lee Greenwood).

While Christian nationalists often assert that the U.S. government is based on the Bible, there is no historical evidence to support this.

Anthea Butler, a professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the new book White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, told Religion News Service, “You put a document made for a nation up against what many people believe are the words of God and say those things are equal. Are you telling us these documents are equal? They’re not even meant to be compared. For many Christians, it would be offensive.”

As Americans United pointed out on its “Wall of Separation” blog, there’s no model for America’s republican model of government in the Bible. The Bible, when it speaks of government at all, offers the products of its time: theocratic states and nations run by autocratic kings.

Features like democracy, representative governing bodies like senates and features like separation of powers come from different historical eras and were refined even further by our founders (who still got a lot of things wrong by ignoring the rights of enslaved people and women).

In 2003, a group of legal scholars and historians wrote a court brief debunking the assertion that U.S. law is based on the Ten Commandments. In doing so, they also exposed the lie of a biblical origin of our law.

The scholars pointed out that various sources influenced American government, among them English common and statutory law, Roman law, the civil law of continental Europe and private international law. The writings of figures such as William Blackstone, John Locke, Adam Smith and others, as well as the Magna Carta, the Federalist Papers and other sources also played a role.

“Each of these documents had a far greater influence on America’s laws than the Ten Commandments,” asserted the scholars’ brief. “Indeed, the legal and historical record does not include significant and meaningful references to the Ten Commandments, the Pentateuch or to biblical law generally.”

As AU noted on its blog, “To be clear, in America anyone has the right to produce any version of the Bible they like and add whatever commentary they see fit. But, despite what some Trumpian conservatives seem to believe these days, simply saying something over and over again in an aggressive manner does not make it fact.

“Christian nationalists have been loudly proclaiming the Christian nation point of view for decades now. While no one can deny that they’re spirited, they continue to lack just one thing: evidence.”