What would happen if the United States government was completely ruled by a religious organization? What if that organization was Christianity? Everything many current conservative politicians fight for would be enacted into law - things like controlling reproductive rights, teaching creationism, and mandatory prayer. Written by Joe Janes, OUR CHRISTIAN NATION is a satirical look at what the U.S. would look like in this Church ruled alternate government state.
The Conservatory Presents the Conservative U.S.
As the show begins, we are welcomed by a suave political figure, The Reverend President. He explains the principles this country was founded on. We are then greeted by an interesting array of historical politicians signing the Declaration of Independence - Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Moses, and an inflatable dinosaur who turns out to be John Hancock.
We are then brought to present day and introduced to a “typical” American family. Louise, Mitch and their two children, Shrug and Nipper, live in a good Christian suburb. In their gated, suburban neighborhood, any disruption to the ideal community (like arguing) is frowned upon. It most likely means you’re going to be thrown out. But luckily this family has the perfect life - they have a peaceful home, the father has a good job and health insurance, and the children are homeschooled by their mother.
An Alternate History Lesson
As the children are doing their homework, we see how Christian beliefs have pervaded their studies. They watch a program where the Reverend President tells the how God created the world - including the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Of course in the garden, there were also dinosaurs because dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time.
When discussing math, God is the reason why math works out - 1+1=2 because God made it that way. We also find out the Civil War didn’t happen because of slaves (or as some would call them, immigrants from Africa) - it was because God was angry at a homosexual Lincoln.
However, things take a turn for the worst as Mitch loses his job with another child on the way. They pray that God will help them.
Taking Us Even Deeper Into this Rabbit Hole
The family is forced out of their home because they can’t pay their bills. They need to find a place to stay undercover. They visit Carlos, the father’s friend from his “study abroad” experience, who now runs a gay conversion camp with his wife and nine children. But, they couldn’t hide forever.
When they are found out, Louise is carted off to jail for endangering her unborn fetus, Mitch to debtors prison, and Nipper is rescued by an aunt who is part of the revolution. In the end, it seems like there might be a ray of hope for the nation, but will the revolution pull through or will the nation’s leaders find a way to spin this story to their benefit?
Bringing Issues Close Enough to Reality
The concept of the show is mostly satirical, so it’s not a laugh out loud kind of comedy show. To this writer, the acting didn’t seem to be on par with the script’s potential. The show’s pace felt a tad slow to start, but rushed towards the end. However, the show does a great job of showing how this alternate universe is closer to reality than you might think - where fetus’ could have lawyers, gun control is non-existent, and being gay or poor is a crime. It alludes to current political figures and events, like too many hard hitting questions from the press for example.
OUR CHRISTIAN NATION shows the importance of the separation of Church and State. If you’re of the mindset religion should have political influence, you might not like the tone of this show. However, this show is good if your political views might be more left-leaning and looking for a show written by someone with the same view.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
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