In America, we have had a fundamentalist religious faith for a long time. But, it's not just Christians, Jews, and Muslims who are religious or even religious fundamentalists. America is not a secular society. It's more religious today than ever. It may not embrace the same deistic presuppositions as a monotheistic religion, but there doesn't need to be a monotheistic god at the center of a religion. Buddhism doesn't worship a monotheistic god. That doesn't make it any less of a faith.
American non-theistic, secular religion has built cathedrals, university lecture halls, and movie theaters where we congregate to worship our gods of fame, wealth, and power. We've converted rooms in our houses to chapels, built around the altar of television where we're literally programmed how to think. And, of course, there's the confessional we go to every so often: the voting booth where we pray that our political gods will help, save, and defend us from hunger, poverty, and danger.
In the same way, American secular religion has its rituals. It has its televangelists in the mainstream media who tell us what to think. Every day, these men and women go on television and social media to spread the word from that day's sermon to all their congregants.
American secular religion is a fundamentalist, evangelical faith, it's just non-theistic. It's a purity cult. It's built cathedrals and chapels, altars and confessionals in every city and every home in America. It's high priests and prophets preach to us every day from the front of the classroom, from movie screens, from our televisions, and from the political stage. And like devout followers, we give them our offerings while their zealots bring the fires of judgment down upon racist Sodom and sexist Gomorrah, attacking unbelievers in the streets, and killing the devil's henchmen.
Secular religion isn't the Christian religion.
But recognizing this, will we shut off their televangelists? Will we tear down our home altars? Will we stop congregating in their cathedrals? Will we stop praying for salvation to men with feet of clay when we're in the voting booth? Will we quench the fires of secular, fundamentalist judgment in the name of Christ?
The social gospel of progress and social justice isn't the gospel of Jesus Christ. Secular religion isn't the Christian religion. The televangelists on our televisions aren't evangelical at all. They're prostitutes and parasites preaching whatever their masters pay them to preach. They have no good news to preach to us. They don't know Christ Jesus, and they don't want to know our Savior. They hate him because he comes preaching mercy, peace, forgiveness, unity, and love.
Do we really think we're going to turn on the six o'clock news and hear, "In our top story, baptism now saves you from guilt and fear"? Do we think the people who profit from our disunity and conflict will lecture us about the benefits of coming together at our Lord's table to be reconciled to God and each other? Do we imagine that the political fundamentalists who have devoted their lives to shielding us from other peoples' questions and opinions are just going to give up and allow us to join another religion and worship another God, like Jesus?
We vote because we are citizens, and it is our duty. We serve our neighbors in love because it is our Christian calling. We cling to the gospel and gifts of salvation because without them, our faith is meaningless, our hope is worthless, and the love of God in Jesus Christ has no footing in concrete reality.
We vote because we are citizens, and it is our duty. We serve our neighbors in love because it is our Christian calling.
Jesus says that we are to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Now, more than ever, we must be wise in the ways of the world, especially in the ways of its religious beliefs and practices; otherwise, we will continue to serve false gods and believe a false gospel. At the same time, in relation to Christ Jesus, we trust that we are innocent because of his bloody suffering and death. We gladly receive the good news of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation when it's preached to us, poured over our heads, and fed to us.
No matter what happens in the world, in our cities, or in our homes, and no matter what happens as a consequence of the national election in November, we will not be shaken. As the apostle assures us, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Neither death nor life, angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love in Jesus Christ.