Remember the Pennsylvania state legislator I wrote about who started a session with a prayer that had insertions of ‘Jesus’ every so often as if it were some kind of yoga mantra? If you missed it, you really should click on the link and listen because it is a great example of Christian nationalism, a political ideology that hides itself under the cloak of Christianity.
It turns out that throwing out Jesus’s name did not prevent her from making numerous false assertions about the religiosity of key people in America’s history, as Andrew L. Seidel explains.
Brimming with sectarian arrogance and division, it was easy to miss the outright errors in Borowicz’s prayer: “God, for those that came before us like George Washington at Valley Forge and Abraham Lincoln who sought after you in Gettysburg, Jesus, and the Founding Fathers in Independence Hall, Jesus, that sought after you and fasted and prayed for this nation to be founded on Your principles in Your words and Your truth.”
These historical moments were probably meant to be poignant ties to Pennsylvania and American history, but they lacked ties to reality, history, and nuance.
For instance, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is typically rendered to include the phrase, “…that this nation, under God, shall…” But history is a bit more nuanced, and unclear. Lincoln’s first two versions of the speech, written by Lincoln himself, don’t include the “under God” and we cannot say for certain that he added those words during the speech itself.
Borowicz’s other two examples are clear: Neither happened. Washington did not pray in the snow at Valley Forge and the delegates at the Constitutional Convention did not fast or pray. These are invented myths, not historical moments.
The Valley Forge prayer myth was invented by the same cleric, Mason Locke Weems, who invented the story about a young George Washington chopping down a cherry tree and confessing to his father. The framers of our Constitution considered and rejected a call to prayer at the Constitutional Convention, finding it “unnecessary,” according to Ben Franklin’s handwritten notes.
Seidel says that these inventions are not accidents, they are deliberately promoted by the advocates of the dangerous ideology of Christian nationalism to advance their legislative agenda.
Borowicz’s prayer perfectly encapsulates America’s current problem with Christian nationalism. It’s a hypocritical political theology based on bad history and myths that is meant to intimidate non-Christians into silence and compliance.
As more overtly non-Christians enter the political arena, expect the Christian nationalists to become even more vociferous.