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A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State Hardcover – September 1, 2006
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Hart assumes that Christianity is an apolitical faith whose realm of authority only concerns the personal and private matters of salvation for Christians. Christianity has no role in political machinations and its public advocacy is not necessary for moral or good government. Reiterating the Augustinian conceptualization of the City of God and the City of Man, Hart argues that politics should focus on the material and physical world and the church should focus solely on the spiritual Kingdom that is to come. Christianity, he posits, relates only to the spiritual realm and therefore cannot inform the organization of society, such as the endorsement of a certain polity, or sanction government programs, such as social-welfare reform. Christians, he believes, are called to live perpetually hyphenated lives in which they constantly struggle with their identities and responsibilities as Christians and as citizens.Read more ›
For Hart, Christian faith must be relegated to the private life and should not be “worn on the sleeve”. Any breakdown of the privatized faith silo may result in confusion of the two kingdoms (at best), or actual harm to others (at worst, and more likely). Outside of formal worship settings and your home-made bunker, faith is dangerous. It’s in these settings that damage control can be used most effectively.
As Hart reasons: The love of God, tenacity about worship, defensiveness about sacred rites, aversion to false religion - all are parts of genuine faith that make it impractical if not damaging for public life. (pg 13)
Throughout the pages of the book, Hart crafts an American history where faith has regularly “intruded” upon the secular realm and argues that we should, instead of integrating faith throughout our lives, hyphenate our faith. So we need not be concerned about public policy. On its face, that sounds not terribly wrong. We don’t want the Church writing policies, do we? Of course, talking about public policy is not limited to paving roads: what about infanticide? Hart never takes the time to ponder what a Christian must do when the “secular” intrudes upon the “sacred”.
Hart fails to distinguish Church from faithful Christian witness as well.Read more ›
Diane C. Donovan
Darryl Hart points out that this nation was not, in fact, established on a theological foundation. Furthermore, dynamiting the dam between church and state is an unpredictable affair, fraught with the potential for unintended consequences. It might do as much harm to
Will this persuade those who want to reduce abortion and the use of birth control? Who think that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice? Who believe that the Universe is 6,000 years old? I suspect not.