Saturday, February 8, 2014

Al Mohler, Dennis Prager & Ross Douthat on Religion and State

“A Catholic, a Jew, and an Evangelical walk onto a stage…”

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but that was the scene at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville last week. Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler was joined by syndicated talk radio host Dennis Prager in a January 28 discussion moderated by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. In the discussion, entitled “Faith and Freedom in the Public Square,” the three discussed and debated pressing issues facing faithful Christians in an increasingly secularized society, including the state of the “culture wars,” the trajectory of the Religious Left, and the decline in America’s Christian culture.

Douthat begun by summarizing what he believed is the general feeling in the nation’s capital. “The view from Washington right now is that we have entered a kind of ‘post culture war’ era in American politics. And it’s an era where religious conservatism…has mostly lost, is mostly on the retreat.”

Mohler, however, pushed back against the idea that the ‘culture war’ was completely lost, citing a story in The Washington Post that noted that the debate over abortion is the most heated ever since Roe v. Wade. “The culture war is over except where it isn’t,” Mohler qualified, “and still isn’t over where it’s most important.” What has changed, he argued, is a decline in the cultural Christianity ascendant in the postwar period. This cultural Christianity, he claimed, had a “binding moral authority” that has in recent years disappeared. He cited as evidence the increasing number of young adults who claim their religion as “none.”

Prager agreed with Douthat that religious conservatives are on the retreat politically. In general, Prager was much more pessimistic throughout the entire discussion on the state of morality in the United States. “This country is changing. This country is an aberration, that’s my view. Good is aberrant. Evil is normative.”

Prager railed against leftism for its role in this cultural decline, especially religious liberals. “There may be some renaissance of ‘liberal religion,’. which is to me worse than liberal secularism. Because it’s leftism with a cross. Leftism, with a Torah… Leftism has taken over most of my religion, Judaism. In non-Orthodox Judaism… it is more likely that a rabbi would speak about global warming on Yom Kippur, than sin. In fact, global warming is the sin!”

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