Should Christians have special privileges?

David Nussbaum in Anabaptism Today gives British examples of how “Christendom” (the medieval concept of a political or geographical Christianity) still has governmental and cultural support. Many American Christians believe that it should. They teach that removing prayer from public schools and removing religious words from public buildings is a denial of a special covenant that God made with America.

It’s an intriguing thought that instead, perhaps Christians should more fully support the separation of church and state, not because we want to secularize our nation, but as a testimony that a political nation is always different from the people of God (except in the case of ancient Israel). Americans who are old enough to remember prayer in school have told me that it didn’t help them to come to God. It seems to me that it implied that “we’re all Christians,” even when we hadn’t really learned what the Gospel means.

Nussbaum suggests, “Rather than seeking to maintain the privileges afforded to Christianity in society, the church should promote the free status of all religions and non-religions. We could do so because we are confident that the message of Jesus will flourish: not by legal might, nor by the power of the state, but through the activity of the Holy Spirit of God.”

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