I teach at a Christian college now solidly known for its politically conservative bent among the administration. Its curriculum includes a three-semester core backbone in politics, philosophy, and economics for all majors (PPE as well as business and media/culture) in which the students learn a lot about the principles of Western democracy and American political philosophy.
Oh, and we’re also located in Manhattan.
Which means the whole so-called “Ground Zero mosque” controversy has generated much hallway buzz from faculty, administration, and students alike. Unsurprisingly, Michael Gerson’s piece in the Washington Post on Friday was the best I’d read on the subject, and I highly recommend it.
But Christianity, as an Abrahamic faith, sets out another vision—an assertion of human worth and dignity that transcends tribe and nation. Christianity has accommodated this belief in slow, halting, often hypocritical stages—a history that should leave Christians tolerant of the slow, halting, hypocritical progress of other traditions. The implications of this shift within Christianity, however, are profound. In light of this belief, the purpose of social influence for Christians is not to favor their own faith; it is to serve a view of universal rights and dignity taught by their faith. It is not to advance their own creed; it is to apply that creed in pursuit of the common good. This is what turns religion into a positive social force—a determination to defend everyone’s dignity.