For better or for worse, Christianity has historically been the spiritual lens through which the Western world views reality. Many of our best teachings and moral philosophies have roots in the Christian tradition, and some would even say that America, with her ideals of justice and equality, was thus founded on Christianity. This claim is certainly arguable, as the organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State has detailed in the document titled “Is America a Christian Nation?”
“The U.S. Constitution is a wholly secular document. It contains no mention of Christianity or Jesus Christ. In fact, the Constitution refers to religion only twice in the First Amendment, which bars laws ‘respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ and in Article VI, which prohibits ‘religious tests’ for public office. Both of these provisions are evidence that the country was not founded as officially Christian.”
Most Americans today understand that we live in a pluralistic society, governed by a Constitution which grants religious freedom to all. To expect that our laws somehow reflect Christian ideals or enforce a moral code based on Christianity would be akin to establishing a sort of oppressive Christian Sharia law similar to those countries around the globe where there is no separation of Church and State. And with the opposition we’ve seen from the religious right recently in regard to marriage equality, abortion, and even marijuana legalization, it does seem as though there are a fair number of Christians today working to influence politics to make man’s law more in tune with their interpretation of God’s law. Although the laws of both God and man can be uncertain these days, especially in regard to these hot button issues, the religious right has traditionally kept a strong anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-pot position.
Though it may seem like there are only two sides in this argument over the establishment of religion in our country, there is another lesser known point of view that rarely, if ever, gets any sort of attention. Amidst the underground culture of anarcho-primitivist thinkers and activists is a group of Christian pacifists, some who even identify as Christian anarchists, and their goal is certainly not Christianizing the Constitution. They believe in a radical rejection of allegiance to State authority and support the separation of Church and State, though for entirely different reasons than the average conservative who wants to inform and influence politics with religion but not vice versa.
The Christian anarchist perceives the situation quite differently, taking more of a bottom up, servant attitude, rather than the top down, master approach. In regard to legalizing marijuana, it is hard to decipher what the typical position would be, but since most anarchists are interested in less government, if not the complete abolishment of it, it seems safe to say that most Christian anarchists would probably either not care too much, or would support legalization. The thing that is interesting with this approach is that those who take their religious convictions seriously enough to actually try and live out the teachings of their Master rather than listening to the commands of others, will inevitably come to the conclusion that freedom is all about choice. We can all decide for ourselves what is good for our bodies and what is not. On this point of view, spirituality is more a matter of the heart, rather than something that is regulated by public policy.
I refer to this religious philosophy as a sort of neo-shamanic pagan Christianity, because it attempts to get back to the root of its teachings, respects the right of all humans to make their own decisions without coercion or condemnation, and finally, it is inspired by the loving example of Christ, the great shaman and healer of all. Shamans are the intermediaries between the human and spirit world, as the Christian anarchist also navigates that space between man’s law and God’s law. They are truly “in the world, but not of it,” and there is reason to take action, but not to be overly attached to the outcomes. I also call this approach pagan in nature, because it’s unlike most other traditional religions, being that it is a product of Western society but at the same time, somewhat opposed to this version of civilization.
The movement toward a more liberal, radical, even tribal version of Christianity, which I have here defined as Christian anarchy, is promising for the future of our country. If gatherings and festivals such as P.A.P.A. Fest, Wild Goose, and the Carnival de Resistance are any indication of the direction this is heading, it seems we can continue to expect more of the same. The established order of the social conservatives and religious right have been trying to hold us back in the name of their so-called religious freedom. Their views are masked in rhetoric about family values and American tradition, however, the true foundation our founding fathers built upon was the ideal of a free and open secular society, where Church and State are kept separate for the protection of both. Only in this kind of space can we be allowed to hold our personal beliefs and take part in a civil society without imposing religious opinions unduly upon others.