I was recently asked what I thought about the idea of a “war on Christianity” in the U.S, a phrase that some people have used to describe the overall attitude that the general U.S. population currently has towards Christians. This question was very simple, but to me it warranted an expansive response. The following is an outline of my response to this question.
The main issue with this phrase is the use of the word “war”. For many people, this word instantly provokes images of violence, weapons, and death.
War can be a word used to describe a conflict without these features. However, assuming the common usage of the word “war”, this phrase describes something that is not occuring in the U.S., namely a physically violent conflict involving a specific group of people (Christians).
However, there has been a trend towards another type of conflict involving Christians. There seems to be increasing verbal attacks against Christians in the U.S. There are various reasons for this trend, but the main one I want to focus on involves the idea of tolerance.
Classically, tolerance refers to a respect towards an individual and a recognition of the views that they hold, despite disagreement over those views with that individual. However, another description of tolerance has been widely accepted in the U.S. today. This description of tolerance refers to an equal acceptance of all beliefs. In other words, all views are considered valid. This description of tolerance takes the disagreement aspect completely out of the definition.
How does this change in the perception of tolerance relate to the trend of verbal attacks towards Christians? First of all, Christians by definition accept several things that are central to their worldview, and disagree with people who do not accept those things (For a description of some of these things, see the blue text in this previous post).
These disagreements are specific and explicit, which people who value the acceptance of all views may perceive as a bad thing. This perception has led to name-calling in situations where a Christian gives a statement that involves disagreement with another person’s view. Some of the names that I have seen are “narrow-minded”, since a Christian accepts only one truth about the world, “bigot”, implying an attitude of hatred, and quite simply “intolerant”.
I obviously cannot give a bunch of reputable sources showing occurrences of this type of name-calling; it is just something that I observe through online comments, discussions in the media, verbal conversations, etc. It is possible that you have not experienced this sort of thing occurring, and also possible that I may be completely off the mark with my observation.
In conclusion, I personally have noticed a general increase in verbal attacks against Christians over the past few years, but the phrase “war on Christianity” is far from an accurate description of the current status of U.S. society.
I want to finish this post with two clarifying points. First, I talk only about Christians in this post because the posed question specifically referred to Christianity. It is very possible that people with other views that are explicitly exclusive are being attacked verablly in the same way as described above.
I also want to point all that all views are exclusive in some way, including the view that “people should accept all views as valid”. I may explore this idea in a future post. Christianity is just perceived to be obviously exclusive in comparison to other worldviews.