The Awkward State of American Christianity

starbucks red cupIn the Fall 2015 Concordia Journal, Michael Knippa writes:

Today some voices in the United States are calling for American Christians to make a shift in their thinking. In addition to movies and books that are solely based upon the premise of the persecution of Christians in the United States, several politicians and political commentators are suggesting that the church in America is being persecuted. Very recently the decision in the Supreme Court Case Obergefell v. Hodges led several prominent Christian leaders to predict that persecution will soon come upon the church in America en masse. Other Christian leaders are not just warning of, but actually stating privately and publicly, that the church in the United States is being persecuted. All of this forces us to consider this contentious, but deeply important, question: is the church in the United States being persecuted?

Writing in 1984, Father Richard John Neuhaus remarked, “What has happened in recent decades is a redefinition of what constitutes ‘the real world.’” Certainly many of the trends that Neuhaus observed in 1984 have continued and even, accelerated in recent years. The “real world” of America’s “public square” in 2015 is a vastly different arena than it was in the 1950s, the 1980s, or even the early 2000s. However, this paper will argue that Neuhaus’s assertion that “lions of gory mane are not in prospect” for the Christian church in the United States remains a valid assessment of our contemporary situation. The “lions of gory mane” (a line Neuhaus takes from a hymn) and the Roman amphitheaters of antiquity that housed them, are a long way from Washington, DC. Of course, the intention of this argument is not to deny the experience of persecution that some Christians in American do in fact endure. Rather, the argument is that the Christian church must carefully discern whether these individual experiences are normative for the entire church, and accordingly, whether or not the church in the United States should publicly claim that it is enduring persecution. . . .

To read the rest of what he has to say, go to his article “No ‘Lions of Gory Mane’: Persecution or Loss of Predominance in American Christianity” and join in the conversation.

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