How to Keep Religion in the Public Square

How to Keep Religion in the Public Square

Every so often there’s another outburst of complaints about how religion is being suppressed in this country, and how it no longer has its place in the public square. And there are the occasional really silly incidents that actually support such a claim. I note, for example, that our local public library here in Pensacola, Florida refuses to permit religious groups to conduct meetings, which is simply a lawsuit waiting to happen.

On the other hand, many, and I suspect most, of the complaints arise more from inconvenience, and the legitimate requirements that people use some kind of etiquette in the way in which they use the public square. The complaint of suppression is frequently actually a complaint that one is not getting the proper strokes, or that the government is not funding one’s favorite religious cause.

WorldNetDaily has an article complaining that a clause forbidding the use of stimulus money to build buildings whose main use is religious. For example, you can’t build a seminary with the money. (HT: Dispatches.) They do this with the ridiculous headline, Stimulus to ban religious worship. Yeah, right. Either from the church or the state side, I very much do not want the government constructing buildings for religious purposes.

But if we Christians do not have what we think is our proper place in the public square, why is that? Is it because of suppression? Christianity is, after all, the majority religion. I do note, however, that when this is limited to True ChristiansTM, no matter who gets to make the definition, the number drops substantially.

But it seems to me that we’re so busy complaining about the opportunities we don’t have (and I’m not prejudicing the issue of what privileges we should have) that we aren’t really taking advantage of the privileges and opportunities we do have.

If you are a parent who complains that children can’t pray at school, let me ask a couple of questions. Did you take the time to pray with your children before you sent them out to the bus stop? Will you pray with them when they get home? Will you take time out of your schedule today to pray for your children during their time at school? And even more, have you investigated just where and when at school your children can pray? Have you taught them how to pray for themselves?

If you are complaining that our young people aren’t getting enough Biblical education, again let me ask you a few questions. Have you read your Bible today? Have you chosen a passage and really studied it, so that if someone referenced it in literature you’d “get” it? Have you or will you take time with your children to study the Bible or something about your faith? Do you encourage your children to read the Bible? Do you see to it that they know something about their church community?

And more importantly, have you let that life of prayer and Bible study impact the way you act in the public square? When you ask “what would Jesus do?” does it come out to something other than your own inclinations? Do people who meet you know you’re a Christian? If they find out you’re a Christian will their opinion of Christians improve?

If you don’t relate to many of the things I’m suggesting, I think you should reconsider complaints about being restricted in your religious activities. You aren’t taking advantage of the many opportunities that are available.

If you or your children aren’t praying enough or studying the Bible enough, is it the fault of the much maligned ACLU? Or is it a result of your desire to have somebody else take care of your children’s religious education because you don’t actually care enough to take the time to do it yourself?

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