Friday, October 16, 2009

Freedom in the public square

An interview from Christianity Today with Hunter Baker, author of The End of Secularism:
Why should Christians oppose the exclusion of religion in public discourse?

Secularism goes a lot further than the separation of church and state. Instead of saying that these things have to be institutionally separate, secularism says that religion has to be privatized and taken out of public life. Secularists argue that if we stop talking about God, we will create greater social harmony. But religion is not a hobby. To act as though God doesn't exist is fundamentally dishonest.

Second, it's unfair. [According to secularists,] you have Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, all of which orbit the sun of secularism. That's utterly fallacious. Secularism is really a competing orthodoxy. And if that's the case, why should one of these competitors be allowed to declare itself the umpire?

How has the impact of secularism changed over time?

When religious speech has been used, as in the civil rights movement, to promote care for the poor or to criticize the Vietnam War, then it's a great thing to secularists. Religious people are speaking truth to power. They're speaking prophetically. But if you start speaking prophetically about something like abortion or marriage, suddenly it's the danger of theocracy. ....

If we were to move toward a less secularist approach, would the church become watered down?

This is a problem for the church. Historically, the church's experience is very cyclical. We go through periods where we are marginalized, we are not in power, and we aren't the fashionable movement. During those periods, the church tends to thrive. Then the church becomes a victim of its own popularity; it tends to be compromised by having alliances with major rulers. Then the cycle repeats itself.

Our faith in God is actually a very important bulwark against totalitarianism, against the oppression of people, and against a government coming to believe that it is the ultimate power instead of God. .... [more]
The Clothed Public Square | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

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