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Christianity and Politics in America

There are other options. Thomas Merton, the night before he died, said, “Zen and Christianity are the future.” Being unafraid to build a “city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14) sounds better to me than hiding in the Middle Ages.


The writer, a former priest, is the author of “The Gospel of Love,” an interfaith exploration of Christianity.

To the Editor:

Rod Dreher laments the growing secularism of American culture, and the theological “thinness” of American Christians’ beliefs.

Many of us have been led by a faithful commitment to truth to undergo a painful reassessment of our beliefs. We have realized that our socially conservative attitudes were fundamentally unjust — for instance, to women and to L.G.B.T. people. We came to see that the biblically based beliefs we held about human nature and moral action were inadequate to our real experience in the world.

We accepted the suffering involved in a paradigm shift because we would not buy our own ideological security at the expense of those our beliefs had harmed. When we see any comparable humility on the part of Mr. Dreher and others who think like him, then we can talk.


To the Editor:

Rod Dreher recommends that evangelicals and other conservative Christians who bemoan the country’s “slide toward secularism” “sail toward safer harbor, then regroup, replenish and rebuild.” In fact they need to do just the opposite — to first look outward and judge critically how their actions contribute to the society we live in, and then resolve with the rest of us to help improve it.


To the Editor:

Rod Dreher argues that Christian faith is dwindling in part because Christians have aligned themselves with Republican politics. The problem is deeper. American Christianity is rapidly losing its appeal because its most visible practitioners seem to have forgotten Jesus’ teaching that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

The refugee, immigration, foreign aid, tax and health care policies of the Trump administration are not in this sense Christian, and until American Christians speak forcefully for the poor and the meek, they will not be relevant or credible.


To the Editor:

Do Christians of the religious right really feel spiritually at home with the Republican Party? Rod Dreher says that conservative Christians, since the 1980s, have “unwittingly” placed too much hope in Republican politics but that Christian gains in political power have not brought secular society to heel. Why did they think it would, when all of the truly Christian precepts are represented by Democrats, not Republicans?

If Mr. Dreher wishes to save Christianity, he’d best help his flock to become more “witting” in their political participation and choices. That just might help save American civil society, too.


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