People of Faith Are Treated as the Enemy

Rocky Mountain News editorial page editor Vincent Carrol and former Rocky Mountain News staff member David Shiflett are authors of a new book entitled Christianity on Trial: Arguments Against Anti-religious Bigotry.

Christians are at risk of being shoved to the margins of public life, victims of disinformation campaigns that minimize their contributions and maximize their warts contend Carrol and Shiflett.

The “cultural elite” members of the media, artistic, political and intellectual establishments are the villains of the book.

The authors point out that religious activism was dominated by liberalism from abolition through the civil right movements.

However, the political coloration changed as conservative Christians erupted against abortion rights in 1973, with the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.  Suddenly the elites equated religious faith with a political position.

“In effect, the stigmatizing of the activist Christian Right has provided an excuse for a generalized anti-religious rhetoric, and even demands that people motivated by faith withdraw from the public square,” write Carrol and Shiftlett.

Tragically, the brunt of this, of course, is carried by Christians.   On the other hand, still drawing outrage are slight remarks about Jews or Muslims.  However, Christians overall are expected to stand still and suffer as targets of suspicion, slander, derision and out-and-out hostility.  Religion is no longer relevant to modern life according to this bottom-line message.

Anti-religious rhetoric of many Rocky Mountain News letter-to-the editor writers inspired Carrol to write the book on an even-handed historical review of both shining and shameful moments.

In fact, what separates Americans today, “seems to be not our different denominations and faith practices, but faith itself,” points out Senator Joe Lieberman (Democrat-Connecticut), the first Jewish Vice Presidential candidate.  He continued,” We are a society of the religious and the secular, where practicing Jews, Christians and Muslims often more in common with each other than with their non-believing peers.”

That division, in turn, has led to a secular orthodoxy” in which religious belief is seen as so menacing that it must be kept at bay say Carrol and Shiflett.  And to drag Christianity’s skeletons out of the closet, while ignoring the seminal role it has played in shaping Western civilization, is the easiest way to accomplish that.

The trust in a rational universe that made true scientific inquiry possible is forgotten, but remembered is the suppression of Galileo.  The core belief in equality that gave rise to the ideal of democracy itself is forgotten, but the Salem witch-burning remembered.

Christianity’s past is treated as something not to celebrate but something to recover from.  That is heresy.  And, perversely believers are being tied to the stake by those who have the most to fear from faith — the Politically Correct inquisition as America stands by General Omar Bradley once wisely said, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom, and rejected the sermon on the Mount.”

(Sue O’Brien,” When faith becomes the enemy,” The Denver Post, January 20, 2002)


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