Americas Liberty at the Crossroads

THE GREAT AMERICAN STATESMAN Patrick Henry said in his later years, "Oh, how wretched should I be at this moment, if I had not made my peace with God." On his deathbed he affirmed his Christian faith to his doctor with even greater conviction, poignantly recognizing that Christianity had been under constant attack but always emerged victorious. "Doctor," said Henry, "I wish you to observe how real and beneficial the religion of Christ is to a man about to die ... I am, however, much consoled by reflecting that the religion of Christ has, from its first appearance in the world, been attacked in vain by all the wits, philosophers, and wise ones, aided by every power of man, and its triumphs have been complete."

As Henry observed, Christianity has withstood the onslaught of attacks throughout history, but will America itself survive as the world's torchbearer of liberty against the incessant assaults on its Christian foundations? For this concluding chapter I interviewed six of the nation's foremost Christian thinkers for their learned opinions on the underlying reasons behind the antiChristian sentiment in America today and what the current trend, unabated, would mean for the future of American freedom.

Dr. James Dobson is the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, a communications, counseling and resource ministry dedicated to the preservation of the home. Dr. Dobson is heard daily by more than 200 million people on over 4,200 radio stations throughout the world. He is a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

Dr. Michael Novak is the director of Political and Social Studies and holds the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. He is the author of more than twenty-five influential books on the philosophy and theology of culture, including On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding. In 1994, Novak received the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Dr. Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of World, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of fourteen books, including Compassionate Conservatism. He is also a syndicated columnist, a senior fellow at the Acton Institute, a church elder, and the chairman of the board of City School, which brings together rich and poor children in Austin.

Dr. D. James Kennedy is the senior minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the founder and president of Evangelism Explosion International, the first ministry to be established in every nation on earth, and the chancellor of Knox Theological Seminary and founder of the Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, D.C. He also founded the Center for Reclaiming America, which seeks to equip men and women to work in their communities to transform our culture.

Nancy Pearcey is the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at World Journalism Institute, visiting professor at the Torrey Honor's Institute of Biola University, and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. Pearcey has been writing on science and worldview since the late 1970s. Her most recent book is the forthcoming Set the Gospel Free: The Transforming Power of Christian Worldview.

Author, speaker, and Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias has spoken in over fifty countries, including in the Middle East, Vietnam and Cambodia and in numerous universities worldwide, notably Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford University. His weekly radio program, "Let My People Think," is broadcast on more than one thousand stations worldwide, and he has appeared on CNN and other international broadcasts.

I asked each of the participants to answer two questions, the first having to do with adversity Christians currently face in America and the second concerning the relationship of faith and freedom and the prospects for America's future as a free nation, given the relentless assaults on our Christian traditions.

1. Why do you suppose that Christians have been singled out for discrimination in American society, generally by those who insist that tolerance is the highest virtue? That is, why does our culture deem it permissible to denigrate deeply held Christian beliefs while insisting on the greatest deference for most other faiths and even secular worldviews? Could it have anything to do with Christianity's perceived judgmentalism, its exclusive truth claims, or its adherence to moral absolutes? If so, how do other religions, which also have exclusive truth claims and strong moral standards, get a pass?

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