Brock Willard editor in chief
In recent times, I have had the distinct opportunity to witness people who identify as “Christians” speak about how society is too secular or that Christianity is becoming a minority in modern society. My response is, “Why are those bad things?”
In the modern era, and in the United States specifically, we have what is called “the separation of church and state.” We have it on paper, at least. It is my observation that for a lot of how our society functions this separation is metaphorical, and the line gets blurred significantly.
I want to be clear: I have no problem with the Christian faiths/denominations on the surface. There are obviously things that need to be worked on in these groups, but that is not unique to them. Any group with a considerable history will have some issues to work out. I am merely trying to draw attention to the hypocrisy of things like saying something like “Christians are persecuted in modern society” while still having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance that many school children are required to say. It’s just a completely ludicrous statement to make.
The history of the relationship between religion (of any ilk) and “the state” is a long one, so I will give the broad strokes. Once organized governments were formed, it was deemed that those governments are ordained directly by an all-powerful god of some kind. As we move more and more towards the modern era, we begin to see a stronger focus on democracy, rather than a hereditary system of government. This, in turn, created a philosophy where the right to govern isn’t handed down by a deity, but is handed up to the leader by the people. When this idea came about, it was quite revolutionary. Eventually, we get to the modern era that, because of things like enhanced travel capabilities, new technologies, etc., is largely multicultural. This obviously creates tension between cultures who don’t want to share the plate.
In a civilized society, multiculturalism should be the goal. We don’t need a hegemonic singular pathway through life. We need to celebrate the diversity all around us.
There are some in Christian denominations who view tolerance for other religions as completely antithetical to what they believe in. They think that society is a zero-sum game where if there are not dominating public life and culture, they are losing and will be decimated by other cultures. This is simply not the case.
We live in a blended society with many different ideas and viewpoints. There is nothing wrong with telling someone, “I don’t believe the same things you do, but I absolutely respect your right to believe how you want,” and then end the thought there. We do, however, run into the issue when certain groups of people view something that is generally accepted scientific principles as simply a “belief.” The tolerance for multiculturalism ends when it comes to bigotry or flat-out science denial. Christian denominations need to recognize they live in the world even if their belief system tells them that they do not belong to the world. If Christian denominations want to continue having a seat at the table, they need to make room for all kinds of people, and I mean all kinds.
They need to examine the language used in their current translation of the Bible and abstract it to what the original author intended in their time. They cannot simply take it at face value any longer. We are past that. The Bible is from a time when our understanding of scientific principles, such as the concepts of gender and sex, were just not as advanced and it’s okay to acknowledge.
In short, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s:” a line from the Bible that is applicable to this concept. It is perfectly okay to acknowledge the reality of the modern society we live in. You might even learn something when you do.