When It’s Wrong to Be Right: Public Faith

One of the problems with conservative Christianity is that they insist on going public with their faith.  If they want to have a private faith, that is fine.  But evangelicals impose their beliefs on others in public by either running for political office or lobbying to try and get laws passed that are compatible with their beliefs.  Have they never heard of the separation of church and state?

This is an accusation that I have very little patience for.  Do people really understand what the separation of church and state really is?  It has nothing to do with keeping all mention of God and religion out of the public sphere.  The purpose of it is to prevent the institution of a state church, such as is found in certain European countries.  There is no reason why religious values should not influence public policy, as long as they do not set their denomination up as the state church.

What about politicians who are conservative Christians?  Is it a terrible thing when they let their faith affect their leadership?  Why is it so bad?  We expect that other politicians will be influenced by their values, worldview, philosophy or even cultural background.  We vote for them based on all these factors.  We are not offended when a liberal or a socialist leads based on liberal or socialist values, why should we be shocked when a Christian leads like a Christian?

What about Christians who mobilize themselves to promote their values?  I am not sure why that is so bad.  Is that not the point of a democracy, that we have a say to promote our values?  I expect feminists to lobby for feminist issues, homosexuals to lobby for homosexual issues, environmentalists to lobby for ecological issues and businesspeople to lobby for business issues.  So why shouldn’t Christians lobby for Christian values?  Do not get me wrong, I do not want to impose Christian beliefs or practices on non-Christians.  I am actually against mandatory prayer in public schools.  But we should have the same right as everyone else to express our values and to seek leaders who support our values.  I see no reason to be angry with conservative Christians for keeping their faith public, as long as we support the rights of others to keep their beliefs public.

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