Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry

Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry

Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry

Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry

Synopsis

Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett do not shrink from confronting the tragedies that have been perpetrated throughout the ages in the name of Christianity. But they argue that the current indulgence of anti-Christian rhetoric in our culture not only involves bad taste, but tunnel vision and wilful historical illiteracy as well. Carroll and Shiflett dispassionately consider the indictment of Christianity -- specifically that it has justified racism and misogyny, encouraged ignorance, and promoted the despoliation of the environment and even justified genocide. Then, in a narrative whose intellectual elegance and verve calls up comparisons to 'How the Irish Saved Civilisation', they answer these charges, showing how in fact the Christian tradition has not only injected morality into our political order, but softened brutal practices and confining superstitions, created the foundation for intellectual inquiry, and created the compassionate! impulse. This book challenges readers of all beliefs -- even those with a belief in disbelief itself -- to question the anti-religious bigotry that thrives in our intellectual world and to re-evaluate the role of Christianity not only as a source of consolation but of enlightenment and human liberation as well.

Excerpt

Christianity inhabits a strange space in American life. It is by far the predominant religion in the most religious country in the industrialized world, with more than 90 percent of its citizens professing belief in God and a large majority claiming allegiance to a Christian denomination or sect. Yet Christians are regularly targeted for ridicule and vilification by a significant portion of America's cultural elite, a situation all the more striking in view of the prevailing hypersensitivity toward other religious, ethnic and lifestyle groups. When a presidential aide in the Clinton administration sought to discredit an independent prosecutor, for example, he instinctively denounced the churchgoing attorney as a "religious fanatic"—a career-ending insult had it been directed at a devout Jew or Muslim. The fact that the aide kept his job while the White House refused to issue even a perfunctory apology illustrates the impunity that surrounds casual bigotry against Christians.

In isolation, such put-downs are relatively harmless. The problem is that similarly harsh judgments have become so commonplace and are asserted so aggressively that they threaten to distort Christians' own view of themselves and their past. Perhaps this has already happened. How else to explain the largely passive reception of a sound-bite version of history in which Christians'

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