How To Kill Your Religion

Speaking of the political maelstrom that elected Donald Trump to the presidency, Russell D. Moore, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote: “. . . the crisis comes from the fact that the old-guard religious right political establishment normalized an awful candidate . . .” (Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, “Can the Religious Right Be Saved?” First Things, January 2017.)

Moore called attention to views of the founder of First Things, Richard John Newhaus, when he mentions the temptation “to impose biblical standards on a society outside of covenant with God.”

The first amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits Congress from making laws respecting a religious establishment. Europeans, with their established churches, thought this amendment would surely lead to a lessening of religious influence in America.

The surprising result was the growth of Christian influence in the country, far more than it influenced those European countries. In a nation of many religious persuasions, Christianity grew in part because of the challenges. It couldn’t depend on government aid or favor. It was required to make the case for its existence in a pluralistic society.

Amazingly, because Christianity so influenced the country (whether you like the outcome or not), people began to speak of America as a “Christian” nation.

If the enemies of Christianity want to defeat it, perhaps they should favor it. Perhaps they should seek, by law or merely by suggestions, to give Christianity special privileges. If those measures don’t kill Christianity, they will surely weaken it.

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