Just How Secular Should America Be?

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Today I have an op-ed at the New York Times addressing some religious liberty concerns from the recent Supreme Court decision in Bostock.

When I was a young man just starting off in the ministry, I knew an older Christian minister who, though deeply conservative theologically and politically, believed that it wasn’t a good idea to mandate state-written, teacher-led prayers in public schools. His argument, though, was simple: As a Christian, he believed that prayer could only come through the mediation of Jesus Christ, not through a school board curriculum-writing process. But he also had a warning. He had spent time in England, which unlike America has an established church. To him, the result was rote doctrine and, ultimately, secularization. “If you get what you want,” he told his critics, “you’ll hate it.”

I couldn’t help thinking of that comment this week, with the question of religious freedom back in the vortex of the culture wars after the Supreme Court’s decision that the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity. This time, though, the warning cuts the other way.

It would be tragic to trample over the consciences of citizens whenever their beliefs come into conflict with the fluctuating norms of secular sexual orthodoxy. Likewise, almost no rational person would suggest that a religious-freedom consensus would evaporate our “culture war” disputes. We have real differences, and they are not going away anytime soon. What’s perilous right now is how we choose to have these arguments.

You can read the rest here.

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).