Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Religion in the public square

There is an interesting point in this article. The authors argue that one of the primary reasons that religion flourished in the United States is that the first amendment introduced competition into the religious community. By removing from the church the explicit support of the state, the constitution force the church to compete amongst itself for people.

This puts a very different spin on the classic complaint about American Christianity: that the variety of denominations is a bad thing by definition. I would contend, in light of Micklethwait and Wooldridge's argument, that this very competition has been the lifeblood of Christianity in America.

Not to say that it is all good. It is one thing to compete as compatriots; it is another to undermine other churches in the pursuit of growth. But to the extent that churches have simply sought for the best way to reach people (both believers and non-believers) then I say - compete on. Just remember, in the end, we're all on the same side.


jared said...

it's true. I forget where I heard/read the quote that basically said "If you must argue with a fellow believer, you must: but remember to speak with regard to the fact that in just a moment you will be eternal brothers." (paraphrasing of course)

Anonymous said...

I agree that the competition is good as long as we still remember that all of our main focus is to proclaim the gospel to those who need to hear it. My sister and I both go to church but both have radically different viewpoints on numerous issues. I would be uncomfortable being a member of her church and as she would being a member of mine. But my church reaches people her church can't. And her's reaches people that ours never will. It's the whole "we're different parts of the body" thing from the bible. Although, I think my sister's church might just be the armpit! : )