Considering Our Options: Deepening Religious Freedom, Witness, and Argument in the Public Square

Nov 8, 2017 by

by Margaret Harper McCarthy, Public Discourse:

Christian witness must go deeper than simply asserting our right to our “sincerely held beliefs.” Igniting the religious question is the best way to restore reason to a public square.

Christians find themselves in an unprecedented situation. In the past, the reigning powers herded them into the Colosseum to be fed to the lions. Now, what Pope Francis has called a more “polite persecution” means death by a million papercuts from letters announcing lawsuits, fines, dismissals, cancellation of public speakers, store closures, and the like, all issued by earnest bureaucrats from their orderly cubicles. In light of this new situation, believers are asking themselves how best to live and raise their children in their faith. They are considering their “options.”

Martyrdom is not new to Christianity, of course. It was present from the very beginning and continues even still, as we know from news reports of the great violence being done in many parts of the globe to those who confess the name of Jesus Christ. What is new in our part of the world, however, is the fact that the “sign that is rejected” is not so much the name―the confession and worship of, the enthusiasm for, the personal relationship with―but that very visible, public, material reality belonging to the realm of creation, into which that “name” entered: the reality of the body.

In our culture, nobody cares about our “sincerely held beliefs” buried deep down in the recesses of our private hearts, unless and until they have some bearing on that reality.

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