The relationship between religion and politics is, to my mind, the central question of our time. As the false totalisms of the twentieth century - communism, fascism, Nazism - have been revealed as oppressive, murderous lies, insecure and inadequate human beings in need of totalist solutions to the human dilemma have returned to religion. But more accurately, they have returned to fundamentalism, because only fundamentalism, with its absolute certainty and literal precision and binding, unquestionable authority, can assuage the anxieties of a world dislocated from tradition, up-ended by capitalism, globalized to the point of cultural panic.
What we are seeing on the Republican right at the moment, it seems to me, is an extension of this response to anxiety. The new orthodoxy is fundamentalist Americanism. This is not regular American exceptionalism of the kind that the president adheres to: a belief that this miraculous new world has opened up vistas of democratic opportunity to the rest of the planet, that its inspired constitution has enabled stability and freedom in equal measure, that it played an indispensable role in keeping freedom alive during some dark, dark times, and that its core idea - government by, for and of the people - is universalist in nature. No, the Americanism now heard on the right is that America was uniquely founded on Christianity, that America is therefore a chosen instrument of divine Providence, and that this moral superiority is so profound that indicting America on any prudential, moral or political grounds is un-American or, if it comes from abroad, evil.
As Andrew points out, its not all that unique to the US. Nationalism and religious fundamentalism tend to go hand in hand across the world. But in a very rich country like the US you would think people very devoted to Christianity would be more willing to help the poor than people in a very poor country. I guess that just speaks to the relative nature of things.
Or it speaks to how people can ignore what Christianity teaches in order to live in a modern, rich country like the US. Because if this supposedly Christian nation actually followed what Jesus taught we would no longer be the richest and most powerful country in the world. People like their houses, cars, tvs, computers, and fast food too much to act too much like Jesus.