When interviewed on The View regarding the recent Orlando shootings, ABC correspondent Sara Haines repeated a sentiment common to liberal political pundits.
“Right now politicians, especially those that make law in the name of their faith need to step back for a second and say I respect you for your belief. Let’s remember that unless you keep that at home in your family where you can impress that on people, our politics need to remain without religion.” [i]
Does she have a point? Must Christians confine their religion to church buildings and homes? Of course not! In our country our government, laws, and social expectations are to a great degree public expressions of the Christian faith.
In the United States Christians have always worked openly in society: creating institutions, influencing government policies, approving good acts and admonishing bad ones. Consider a few examples.
- Our very form of government, where law has primacy over executive decree, originates from the concept that God’s laws trump the king’s word. [ii]
- Our abolition of human slavery began with articles, preaching and petitioning. These created an environment that demanded the end of slavery. The resulting war finally settled the issue, but nothing would have been done but for Christian preaching on this unrighteousness. [iii]
- The 1960s Civil Rights movement had many Christians working to establish legal equality regardless of race. Many actors of the movement modeled their arguments, speeches and actions on how to act like Christ. [iv]
- For over 40 years the Pro-Life movement has protested the establishment of legal abortion, a “compelling government interest”. Christians claim a compelling interest in protecting unborn children from this government-sanctioned violence.
- For ages and ages Christians have founded and supported orphanages, hospitals and charitable societies. Large sums are asked for, and raised, for relief as soon as a calamity occurs, whether here or overseas. These gifts speaks loudly that “government charity is not really needed.” Since a government can’t be charitable – how can you be charitable with money you obtained through coercive taxation? – this “less government in charity” policy comes through nice and loud.
The wail of “Christians must not impose their beliefs on us” comes not from philosophical concerns but rather from fear of criticism. These are activists who see that Christian community is frustrating their aims. They’re afraid that that someone will actually ask why this or that policy is so compelling that all must be bulldozed into obedience.
So should you leave your religion at home? Certainly not! Doing so is dereliction of duty to Christ. Christians have a right, and divine responsibility, to continue to influence each part of the world they touch, whether people or property or public institutions.
[i] Sara was interviewed on the 06/13/16 episode of The View: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/kristine-marsh/2016/06/13/abcs-sara-haines-conservative-christians-keep-your-religion-out
[ii] Samuel Rutherford’s work Lex Rex established that a civil leader must be subject to law or he becomes a tyrant, a law unto himself. http://www.breakpoint.org/the-center/columns/viewpoint/15158-rex-lex
[iii] D’Souza says modern slavery wouldn’t have ended were it not for Christians: http://townhall.com/columnists/dineshdsouza/2008/01/14/how_christians_ended_slavery
John Coffey says much the same thing: http://www.jubilee-centre.org/the-abolition-of-the-slave-trade-christian-conscience-and-political-action-by-john-coffey/
Origins of anti-slavery movement in USA: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/amabrel.htm
[iv] The churches provided the civil rights leadership and resources to plan and engage the populace to regard blacks and whites as having equal legal and social rights. https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/kf/rel_Bernard_Lafayette.pdf