Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths or of no faith undermine all our civil rights. – Thomas Jefferson
Much of the talk of Christian worldview in America is still colored by the culture wars of the 1980s where Christians see themselves as “victims” of a secular culture. Many make the assumption that this was once a Christian nation and it’s time to “take it back.” They watch carefully what happens in courts where they feel the Christian viewpoint is being discriminated against, as if the courts should be supporting biblical truth or be guardians of the Kingdom of God (which, of course, they are not).
So for many of these people religious freedom means freedom to express our Christian convictions and values in the marketplace and in public schools and other public places. Many Christians today believe that religious freedom means freedom to express their religious beliefs. This is a fine thing to seek, but it’s missing one important step. True religious freedom must be freedom for everyone’s religious beliefs, not just ours. This is the core of religious freedom — religious freedom for everyone, or, as Os Guinness puts it, freedom for “all religions and none.”
Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers and main proponent of religious freedom, wrote: “Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths or of no faith undermine all our civil rights.”
This needs to be not just a point we tolerate. It is a point we must champion. Christians need to be seen as the champion of respect for everyone else’s religious freedom. When we respect the religious freedom of others in the public square, then we will be much more likely to be heard when we get our chance to voice our beliefs on that same platform.
It’s also often true that when Christians talk about worldview, many do so in an antagonistic way, taking cheap shots at political parties and trying to paint everyone who doesn’t agree with what have become Christian cultural issues as imbeciles. Great, let’s just get in there and sling mud like the rest of them. We need to rise above this.
This is when Christian worldview needs to not be in opposition to everyone else’s worldview. It should respectfully take into account everyone else’s worldview; otherwise how will we ever be able to open a dialogue with the world and reason people in a civil way toward faith? A Christian worldview should not be in opposition to the world; it should be a bridge to talking to others about our faith from a place of respecting their right to believe whatever they believe now. It’s not our view versus their view; it’s understanding everyone’s view so that we can create bridges pointing people to the truth, and the truth is Jesus, not an issue, but a person.
What an opportunity for Christians to take the high road. At a time like this, we will stand out because we will rise above the petty wars and the mudslinging and create a respectful dialogue. And remember, dialogue is two-way. It’s a conversation, not a bullhorn.