From Christianity Today:
Yesterday, Russia’s new anti-terrorism laws, which restrict Christians from evangelizing outside of their churches, went into effect.
The “Yarovaya package” requires missionaries to have permits, makes house churches illegal, and limits religious activity to registered church buildings, among other restrictions. Individuals who disobey could be fined up to $780, while organizations could be fined more than $15,000.
Now consider the survey I discussed last week, Consider the legal contortions that have transmogrified the right to bears arms into the heavily regulated state of firearms sales today. Consider the fact that religion-fueled terrorism is a very real thing. Consider some of the laws and decisions that have come down around same-sex marriage, likewise health care.
Is it really that hard to imagine something like what is happening in Putin’s Russia happening in the United States? I am not crepe hanging here. I am not predicting it will happen. I am simply saying it is within reason to imagine it could happen. Of course we will never outlaw religion, there is that pesky first amendment – but regulate it into an ineffectual corner? That is well within current conceptual boundaries. Of course for us it will not happen in the power-grabbing large lurches seen in Russia, it will be in small increments, each conditioning us for the next small step. A bureaucratic interpretation here, a legal tweak there, and finally a court decision to prevent that step from ever reversing.
But while we are imagining I must opine that I cannot imagine a worse path for this nation. For as much as we are threatened by the violent extremism of certain and specific expressions of Islam, so the reason and values that created this nation rest on a foundation of Christian thought. You bind and you limit that foundation and the real differences between us and the terrorists fade into simple power play rather than principled opposition. It becomes simply about who wins, not who is right.
Much of the drift in this direction our nation has witnessed to date lays not at the feet of the left, but at the feet of we Christians. In very large numbers we have abandoned a thoughtful and reasonable approach to our faith and replaced it with a dogmatic true-believer-ism. Never have I seen this more evident than in reaction to the nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP POTUS candidate. Most of the things I have seen are of the “you are for us or you are against us” variety, speaking in apocalyptic terms of what happens if…. This is true for Christian writers writing both for and against Trump.
That Trump is, for Christians, a problematic nominee almost goes without saying. But the last thing we can do in dealing with that problem is to abandon sweet reason. Problems are generally opportunities; problem solving leads to innovation. Maybe, just maybe, if we held to our fundamental principles and made dealing with the Trump dilemma more about process than outcome something wonderful might result.
Simply put there is no “right” answer when it comes to the Trump nomination. In light of that fact the best thing we as Christians can do for the country is model a better way to arrive at a decision. Rather than turn this into the typical “I’m right, you’re wrong” contest, what if we showed a nation how to arrive at a stance with reason and fraternity with those arriving at a different stance?
If we did that, suddenly a serious and once again Christian nation quickly makes its way back into the current conceptual boundaries. I like that a whole lot better than the alternative that started this post.