...conservative Christians in the U.S. should take heed. Christianity is thriving where it faces obstacles, like repression in China or suspicion of evangelicals in parts of Latin America and Africa. In those countries where religion enjoys privileges - Britain, Italy, Ireland, Spain or Iran - that establishment support seems to have stifled faith.
That's worth remembering in the debates about school prayers or public displays of the Ten Commandments: faith doesn't need any special leg up. Look at where religion is most vibrant today, talk to those who walk five hours to services, and the obvious conclusion is that what nurtures faith is not special privileges but rather adversity.
Read the rest here.
(NY Times, registration required)
Another great column by Nicholas Kristof. (Thanks to Jordan Cooper)
I've been deeply troubled, as of late, by many well-meaning Christians who believe that, because Jesus is the way of salvation, this means that Christians should have special priviledges (i.e., school prayer, Ten Commandments, the so-called "biblical perspective" on marriage, immigration for Christians only, etc).
As Kristof rightly points out, Christianity flourishes went it is under attack. I mean a REAL attack. North American Christianity is NOT under attack. Despite the best efforts of some right wing Christians to be manufacture an identity of victimhood. We can still worship freely. We can teach our children according to our own beliefs. We don't cower in basements to receive Holy Communion, terrified of a knock at the door.
Jesus told his followers to "rejoice and be glad when you are reviled and persecuted in my name." Jesus didn't say "be outraged at such insolence toward God's people!" And Jesus certainly didn't say, "Wage war against unbelievers. Fight for a Christian culture. Be culture warriors!"
Jesus said to love our enemies and to do good to those who persecute us.
Loving our enemies. Living good news. That's what makes faith thrive. Not by waging war against the culture.