As citizens, we ought to insist that the President stand up to his “base” and articulate a vision of a healthy pluralism in the public square. Notice that the problem is not that this evangelical wants to “impose his religion” on the rest of society. The problem is not that he wants to exclude homosexuals or others from the public square or of their civil rights. The problem is that he won’t say that they can go to heaven without repentance. That’s not a civil issue, but a religious test of orthodoxy.Read the rest.
As Christians, we ought to recognize that the old majoritarian understanding of church/state relations is outmoded. Our situation today is not to hold on to some form of American civil religion. Our situation today is more akin to the minority religions of America’s past: colonial Baptists, nineteenth-century Baptists, early twentieth-century Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are appealing simply for the right to exist at all, in the face of an established religion armed with popular support and, in the fullness of time, state power.
It turns out we’re circling around to where we should have been all along: with the understanding that religious liberty isn’t “toleration” and separation of church and state isn’t secularism.
We don’t have a natural right to pray at anyone’s inauguration. But when one is pressured out from a previous invitation because he is too “toxic” for simply mentioning once something universal in the Christian faith, we ought to see what we’re looking at: a state church.
And as one old revolutionary-era Baptist said, as he went in and out of prison for preaching: “There is nothing so offensive to an established church than the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Books by Russell Moore: