Oddly enough to me I see this collapsing even among liberals who in their anti-Constantinian settlement and anti-Christendom stances claim to have abandoned such civil religion. And yet we have such suggestions as that put forward by Candace Chellew-Hodge on Polling place as sacrosanct. As one who has a degree in Religious Studies I can appreciate the analogy of polling place as sacred space. But as one aware that we do have and have always had a civil religion in this country and that it has tended to have a Christian veneer, the collapsing of civility and politeness of a poling place with the exhortation to Love from Saint Paul the Apostle seems to be a watering down the Gospel and the notion of Love in Paul (which by the way is for Paul always already self-sacrificial and exemplified in the Cross and leads Paul to his own death) by equating it with politeness and civility in a public setting. I'm sorry but Jesus and God are many things but politeness is not the same as God's self-sacrificial love. And However much I may like John Stewart (and I think he is hilarious, damn funny, and has bitting insightful commentary on our times) and however nice, good and useful his analogy of cars merging "you go, then I go..." , such an image is hardly a comparable image to the cross and Christian Martyrdom which should be the meaning of Love for the Christian. Two things seem to make Chellew-Hodge's conflation possible: 1) that politeness in the line at a voting booth seems worthy of commentary in our day (who knew, I didn't but I haven't voted since 2002 so haven't been to a poling place in awhile) and 2) a desire to make our civic duty as citizens of the United States coincide with our civic duty as the people of God.
As I wind down I return to our current fear that the other political party will bring us to the brink of fascism (and/or communism): For the church there is in the United States the analogous co-option of the church and Christianity by the nation and state, but it's nothing new and has little or anything to do with fascism or communism. We are currently aware of this danger on the one hand because ostensibly it is the consensus that empire and colonialism are at odds with Christian faith, and that Christendom was a huge mistake. On the other hand we aware of this because there are now two competing visions of how being both a citizen of the United States and a citizen of the people of God can coincide without conflict or betrayal of either citizenship and without needing to give priority to that of the people of God. American Christians for most if not all of our history have assumed that our allegiance to God and Christ and the Kingdom of God could be entirely coincident with being citizens of this great democracy. Few have questioned the claim that America is a "City set on a Hill". Even now, while liberal Christians may point out how America failed at that miserably, liberals haven't given up on this idea but seek to make a progressive agenda into that which will fulfill this manifest destiny of the United States. It is long overdue for Christians in America to return to Augustine's City of God, and contemplate our only true citizenship, and revive a two kingdoms theology not in its form that allows Christians to betray Gospel principles if in civil office (and may have lead to German Lutherans slow response to Hitler and Nazism) but one that heightens the tensions between these two citizenships, and makes the bold claim that we are better citizens of the nations of the world if we are only loyal to our citizenship in the people of God. Or to say it another way; We are most truly good citizens of this world when we seek to have no other identity than that of Christ, and thus see ourselves as only truly citizens of the City of God.