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From litigation over coaches starting games with prayer to expulsion from college for refusing to endorse beliefs at odds with the Christian faith, hardly a week goes by without news of the declining influence that Christianity has in the public square. Can Christianity in this country survive the advances of secularists and remain influential in our culture?

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And if a new spiritual awakening is possible, what form will it take? He explores the inspiring history of Christianity in America, the powerful cultural influences that have weakened the church, and the bright spots of hope he sees across the country, suggesting possible ways Christian influence in America might be refined and revived.

Pastors, culture-watchers, and anyone concerned about the state of the church in America will find this a fascinating and eye-opening read.

In his landmark audio book on CD, he addresses the struggle he hears from both skeptics and Christ-followers: Has Christianity failed us? And can irrefutable charges be brought against it by skeptics and disappointed believers alike? Zacharias speaks for anyone who has left the church literally or emotionally, who lives with silent doubts about God, or who knows that Jesus is the answer—but has forgotten the question.

Here, he will change how you see Jesus, how you see yourself, and how you see the way your life is meant to be lived. For that matter, if there is no God, do we even have the grounds for saying that something is immoral or wicked? Can God be eternal?

David Aikman: America's Religious Past Fades in a Secular Age - WSJ

Can an Omnipotent Being create free creatures? Does the idea of God promote an absurdity like a disembodied person?

Is the idea of God too anthropomorphic? These and many more important questions are answered in this short, but powerful little booklet.

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Hell is for Real is a clear search for truth, and truth matters for the simple reason that we all have a divine appointment with death. What if those who do not believe in HELL die one day and find they made a tragic and eternal mistake? Where do we turn for real answers? From the surprising national success of several anti-religious books 82 to the growth of irreligious organizations throughout the country, 83 overt atheists have become more vocal and dynamic in the United States since G.

Their first goal has been therefore to fight the social and political stigma of atheism. Following a logic of identity politics, 85 they have resorted to various types of initiatives to make their presence more visible in society and to increase public awareness of their situation as a symbolically marginalized minority, from marches on the Washington Mall to ads on buses.

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In , in a nationwide campaign that received large media coverage, the American Humanist Association and the United Coalition of Reason placed posters advertising atheism on the buses and in the subways of almost every important American city. Are you? Therefore, provided that this mobilization does not only constitute a temporary backlash against the influence of religious groups in American politics, but manages to become established in the long run, it could also have a decisive influence on how most Americans view atheism. Historically forgotten or stigmatized as antagonistic to American values, they suddenly became recognized members of American society, besides other traditional religious groups - Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.

Even as the acceptance of various other groups has increased, non-believers have remained significantly disliked and stigmatized by a majority of Americans until today. Alexander, Jeffrey. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities. Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism London: Verso , 13 th edition, Aiello, Thomas.

Altemeyer, Bob, and Hunsberger, Bruce. Bercovitch, Sacvan. Bellah, Robert. Berns, Walter. Caron, Nathalie.

David Aikman

Cimino, Richard, and Smith, Christopher. Ginzberg, Lori. Hamburger, Philip. Herberg, Will. Hollinger, David. The Revolution of : democracy, race and the new republic Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, Hout, Michael, and Fischer, Claude. Huntington, Samuel. Inglehart, Ronald, and Norris, Pippa.

Sacred and Secular. Jacoby, Susan. Keysar, Ariela, and Kosmin, Barry eds. Kramnick, Isaac, and Moore, Laurence. The Godless Constitution. But this tendency makes it more challenging for liberals to adjudicate conflicts between religion and politics. One possibility is for the liberal to argue that the demands of justice are prior to the pursuit of the good which would include religious practice.

If so, and if the demands of justice require one to honor duties of citizenship, then one might argue that people should not allow their religious beliefs and practices to restrict or interfere with their roles as citizens. One recent trend in democratic theory is an emphasis on the need for democratic decisions to emerge from processes that are informed by deliberation on the part of the citizenry, rather than from a mere aggregation of preferences. As a result, there has been much attention devoted to the kinds of reasons that may or may not be appropriate for public deliberation in a pluralistic society.

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While responses to this issue have made reference to all kinds of beliefs, much of the discussion has centered on religious beliefs. One reason for this emphasis is that, both historically and in contemporary societies, religion has played a central role in political life, and often it has done so for the worse witness the wars of religion in Europe that came in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, for example.

As such, it is a powerful political force, and it strikes many who write about this issue as a source of social instability and repression. Another reason is that, due to the nature of religious belief itself, if any kind of belief is inappropriate for public deliberation, then religious beliefs will be the prime candidate, either because they are irrational, or immune to critique, or unverifiable, etc.


In other words, religion provides a useful test case in evaluating theories of public deliberation. Since citizens have sharp disagreements on comprehensive doctrines, any law or policy that necessarily depends on such a doctrine could not be reasonably accepted by those who reject the doctrine. A prime example of a justification for a law that is publicly inaccessible in this way is one that is explicitly religious. For example, if the rationale for a law that outlawed working on Sunday was simply that it displeases the Christian God, non-Christians could not reasonably accept it. Since only secular reasons are publicly accessible in this way, civic virtue requires offering secular reasons and being sufficiently motivated by them to support or oppose the law or policy under debate.

Religious reasons are not suitable for public deliberation since they are not shared by the non-religious or people of differing religions and people who reject these reasons would justifiably resent being coerced on the basis of them. Others try to show that religious justifications can contribute positively to democratic polities; the two most common examples in support of this position are the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement and the twentieth-century civil rights movement, both of which achieved desirable political change in large part by appealing directly to the Christian beliefs prevalent in Great Britain and the United States.

A third inclusivist argument is that it is unfair to hamstring certain groups in their attempts to effect change that they believe is required by justice. Many—though not all—who defend the pro-life position do so by appealing to the actual or potential personhood of fetuses. Consequently, on some versions of exclusivism, citizens who wish to argue against abortion should do so without claiming that fetuses are persons.

To ask them to refrain from focusing on this aspect of the issue looks like an attempt to settle the issue by default, then. Instead, inclusivists argue that citizens should feel free to introduce any considerations whatsoever that they think are relevant to the topic under public discussion. Even the most secularized countries Sweden is typically cited as a prime example include substantial numbers of people who still identify themselves as religious.

These people are often given substantial democratic rights, sometimes including formal citizenship. And the confrontation between radical Islam and the West shows few signs of abating anytime soon. Consequently, the problems discussed above will likely continue to be important ones for political philosophers in the foreseeable future. Christopher Callaway Email: ccallaway sjcme. Religion and Politics The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy , despite the emergent consensus both among political theorists and in practical political contexts, such as the United Nations on the right to freedom of conscience and on the need for some sort of separation between church and state.

Establishment and Separation of Church and State While the topic of establishment has receded in importance at present, it has been central to political thought in the West since at least the days of Constantine. A church may be supported through taxes and subject to the direction of the government for example, the monarch is still officially the head of the Church of England, and the Prime Minister is responsible for selecting the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Particular ecclesiastical officials may have, in virtue of their office, an established role in political institutions. A church may simply have a privileged role in certain public, political ceremonies for example, inaugurations, opening of parliament, etc. Toleration and Accommodation of Religious Belief and Practice As European and American societies faced the growing plurality of religious beliefs, communities, and institutions in the early modern era, one of the paramount social problems was determining whether and to what extent they should be tolerated.

Liberalism and Its Demands on Private Self-Understanding In addition to examining issues of toleration and accommodation on the level of praxis , there has also been much recent work about the extent to which particular political theories themselves are acceptable or unacceptable from religious perspectives. Religious Reasons in Public Deliberation One recent trend in democratic theory is an emphasis on the need for democratic decisions to emerge from processes that are informed by deliberation on the part of the citizenry, rather than from a mere aggregation of preferences.

References and Further Reading Audi, Robert. Religious Commitment and Secular Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Audi, Robert, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. An accessible, well-reasoned exchange between an inclusivist Wolterstorff and an exclusivist Audi , with rebuttals.

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Bellah, Robert N. Brighouse, Harry. School Choice and Social Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Portions of this book deal with education for autonomy and religious opposition to such proposals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, An exploration of civic education in light of Rawlsian political liberalism. Carter, Stephen L. New York: Basic Books, Clanton, J. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Coleman, John A.

Christian Political Ethics. A collection of essays on political topics from a wide array of Christian traditions. Cuneo, Terence, ed. Religion in the Liberal Polity. A collection of essays on religion, rights, public deliberation, and related topics.