Let me return for a moment to the post “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” on Internet Monk. Spencer acknowledges that he’s no futurist, but he makes a number of interesting predictions. Some seem like safe bets, like the suggestion that the non-religious (which would include the spiritual but not religious crowd) will hit 25-30% of the population. Other statements I am not knowledgeable enough to judge — like his statement that “the emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape.” But one statement in particular caught my eye:
Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become particularly hostile towards evangelical Christianity, increasingly seeing it as the opponent of the good of individuals and society.
This is my cue to start laughing maniacally, isn’t it?
Things to Come
Pullquote: We are soon going to be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
We’ve seen this kind of thinking before. Here at Unreasonable Faith a number of Christians have made comments that predict a coming increase in Christian persecution.
It is not simply that evangelicals will have to deal with the suspicions and misunderstandings that are the lot of the religious minority — the kind of thing that atheists frequently have to deal with now. No, some Christians are expecting political and social disenfranchisement. To quote Spencer again, “We are soon going to be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.”
Perhaps this is entirely rhetorical. Nothing unifies people like a shared experience of persecution. Perhaps it is not an expectation so much as a hope; an unconscious hope, but hope nonetheless. Persecution would allow for a type of heroic expression of faith not seen since Rome converted. Or perhaps some people genuinely believe we’re headed into a time of religious suppression of Christians.
Pullquote: If you really think that Evangelical Christianity is about to become the minority, don’t you want a government that respects minority rights?To the Evangelical Christians, let me make this as clear as I can: we are not planning to persecute you. If fact, the things that we’re fighting for are the very things you’re going to want if Evangelical Christianity is headed for the dustbin of history.
Atheists have spent the past few decades fighting to strengthen the separation of church and state. If evangelicals suddenly become a vanishing minority, this separation will protect you from government.
Atheists have been pushing to make religion a function of private life. If we succeed, you’ll be protected from the sorts who proselytize, the way you now inflict it on others.
Atheists are fighting for government based on secular values. Remember, “secular” is not the opposite of “sacred” — that’s “profane.” Secular is the opposite of sectarian, it means “universal.” A secular value is one that doesn’t require special revelation to appreciate. I suppose some would rather have a government based on their own sectarian values, but if you can’t have that, wouldn’t you rather have a secular government?
If you really think that Evangelical Christianity is about to become the minority, don’t you want a government that respects minority rights? Why don’t you send a donation to the ACLU, sign a petition against school prayer, and join us over here in secular America.
Vorjack is a librarian/archivist and a public historian, living with his wife in history-soaked Albany, New York.