In preparation for the coming July 4th festivities, Rep. Doug Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs and El Paso County in Colorado (full disclosure—my home) introduced a resolution to declare July 2nd as a “National Day of Personal Reflection and Repentance.”
Heretofore, Lamborn has been best known for bringing military pork but little else to his district, expressing doubts about the man-made causes of climate change, making the list of the “seven most anti-gay U.S. Representatives,” and for leading a personal crusade to defund National Public Radio. As early as March, he declared his support for Donald Trump if the recently evangelically “converted” brander of a fraudulent “university” won the nomination.
Lamborn’s resolution/symbolic gesture reads, in part, as a history lesson, pointing to times when John Adams declared days of “national humiliation, fasting, and prayer,” when James Madison did so (during the War of 1812), and when Abraham Lincoln had done so during the Civil War.
The resolution continues that it is the:
duty of nations, as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth . . . proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is Lord.
The nation has prospered, but “we have forgotten God,” instead deceiving ourselves that our blessings had been produced by “some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”
Worse, we have “failed to respond, personally and collectively, with sacrifice and uncompromised commitment to the unmet needs of our fellowman,” instead becoming “absorbed with the selfish pursuits of pleasure and profit.”
The nation should, therefore, do as John Adams had advised when he believed that July 2nd would be celebrated as a national holiday: “confess our national sins, and pray for clemency and forgiveness.” The House of Representatives, by this resolution, will call upon Americans to “humble ourselves as we see fit, before our Creator to acknowledge our final dependence upon Him and to repent of our national sins.”
Historians will immediately point to the roots of this kind of ceremonial language in the jeremiads of Puritan preachers in the 18th century, a rhetorical convention that then became part of early American political discourse. There is also a more recent history of Lamborn’s introducing resolutions to recognize “Christianity’s importance to western civilization,” and to declare an early weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend.” (Think Judge Roy Moore gone national.)
The coincidence here of the most recent resolution and Trump’s much-noted meeting with a large group of evangelicals in New York (and naming of a Religion Advisory Board featuring numerous members of the older religious right wrested out of retirement or ignominy) is notable.
Lamborn’s resolutions replay outdated historical cliches, but the baptism of Trump’s campaign in the language of religious liberty may help to bathe the lifelong libertine in the cleansing words of America as a Christian Nation.