We’ve been told that Christians have the corner of the market on justice, but this simply isn’t true. Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, religious “nones,” and others are also interested in addressing many of the same injustices that tug on our hearts. In the same way, the effects of injustice are not borne by one religious (or non-religious) community. For example, guns being in the wrong hands is a burden that all religious and nonreligious communities share and all have a stake in addressing. It is not just Christian police officers that get murdered during traffic stops.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that all religions understand justice or pursue justice in the exact same way. Rather, I’m leaning on the doctrine of common grace, in that all people have the capacity to comprehend and perform moral virtue, as well as Biblical vignettes of Jesus praising the good deeds and character of others, like the Roman centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 and the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
Some Christians are hesitant to engage seriously with religious others out of fear of theological compromise and disloyalty to Christ, which I empathize with because I used to have those fears myself. However, when non-Christians exhibit exemplary moral character, we have freedom and a clear example in Christ to applaud them publicly in our churches, campus ministries, and community organizations. Celebrating the goodness of our neighbors is one easy way to love them and show them we care, without the added pressure of sending a disingenuous theological message in the process. The rationale is simple: If Christ praised the goodness of “others,” even religious others, we can too.
That’s completely un-Christian:
“As you did for the least of them, so you did for me.”
Why would anyone who takes Christianity seriously need to be reminded of that?
I think that it’s far more important that when Christians fail to exhibit exemplary moral character, Christians who take Christianity seriously are obliged to give a public thumbs-down in our churches, campus ministries, and community organizations.
A good place to start is to state that secularism isn’t a dirty word. Secularism isn’t atheism, nor does it require people to give up their religious beliefs. From the article:
Everyone, believer and non-believer alike, needs to stop treating justice and government like it is some sort of sport where we need to outscore our opponents. We need to realize we are all on the same team. Kevin Singer does a great job of explaining this to the christian community, and it needs to be said in the atheist community as well. This isn’t just a Christian problem, although it may be exacerbated by the size of the Christian community in the US. At its heart, this is tribalism, a very common human flaw.