Why religion is always public

Naked Public SquareThere is a nice piece by Joel Miller at Theology Sticks about the essentially public nature of religion. As much as the secularists of our day might try to distort the First Amendment and keep Christians silent and docile, it will never happen. This is not just about the nature of the Christian faith either, as Miller points out, but about human nature and the nature of religion itself. Faith is never simply personal because all faith is a function of our view of the world, of all reality and our place in it.

Modern people want to turn religion into a merely subjective experience, something that doesn’t say anything about the real world; as long as it makes us happy, or whatever. Americans and Westerners in general are basically relativists who think what is true for one person doesn’t necessarily have to be true for another person. Of course this is patently absurd on the face of it, but logical consistency is not at the top of many people’s priority list. All the world’s religions make competing truth claims, and the law of contradiction says two contradictory claims cannot be true at the same time. Whatever these claims happen to be, and whatever religion it happens to be, even if it is atheistic religion, it will seek to influence society in some way, and that includes its politics. There is no neutral ground, and there is no naked public square, as the late Richard John Neuhaus once argued persuasively. Ironically, when people took truth claims seriously, tolerance as a virtue actually made sense. Today so called tolerance is an excuse for totalitarian leftist group think, the fruit of a relativism that is as absolutist as any religious fundamentalist.