The City on a Hill


Many people describe the United States as a “Christian Nation.”

The vast majority of American citizens identify themselves as Christians. People of faith create a ruckus when schools and elected officials remove the Ten Commandments from public property. We’ve probably all sung “God Bless America” at some point in our lives. And there are many churches across our country that proudly display the American flag right beside their altar during worship.

Europeans brought Christianity with them when they settled in America. We hear about the Pilgrims coming to America on the Mayflower in 1620. Another well-known group of faithful Christians came to America in the Spring of 1630 and formed the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Ten of the colonists who came to America in 1630 with John Winthrop were my ancestors. And they all came to America to build “The City on a Hill” that would be watched by the rest of the world. And they formed a Christian “theocracy.”

The distinction between the Church and the government became blurred in the New World that my ancestors created. This is what often happens in a “theocracy.” As “The City on a Hill” began to grow and flourish, some cracks began to develop, some shady deals were made, treaties were broken, and people even began to search for witches.

In this week’s message, “The City on a Hill”, I share the rather twisted story of my own family’s earliest days in America. It’s a twisted tale of deceit and anguish. It’s a story that demonstrates how quickly things go wrong when religious faith and government power become too deeply connected. And yes, it’s also a story that  pretty clearly demonstrates that “Christian Nations” will never be more perfect that the Christians who inhabit them.

So, journey with me for a few moments. All of the people in this story are as real as you and I are. The story’s been carefully researched over a period of more than 20 years. And it clearly demonstrates how quickly things can go horribly wrong – even when people build a “Christian nation” with the very best of intentions in mind.




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