There was a time in American society when people generally respected religion. Though I question the historicity of whether America was ever really a “Christian” nation, there is no denying that in the not so distant past Christianity was a major influence in our personal lives, our politics and our local communities.
Times have changed and now it seems that most public figures who claim to be Christians work hard not to be seen as too religious. They know when to show up the annual generic prayer breakfast and they end their speeches with “God bless America,” but that seems to be the limit to their commitment to public religion. This is most clearly true in politics, but we also see this same trend toward a vague commitment to a generic religion in all levels of public life in America.
The latest demonstration of this new generic religion is an aversion to the word “Christ.” Some small level of religion in general continues to be tolerable, but a specific commitment to Jesus Christ has somehow become a bad thing. As a matter of fact, our society is on the verge of becoming “christophobic.” What is christophobia?
A phobia is defined as a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it (view link here). Therefore, christophobia is a persistent, irrational fear of Christ that leads to a compelling desire to avoid Him. Notice the words “persistent,” “irrational,” “fear,” “compelling desire,” and “avoid.” Those are powerful words. We see them lived out in almost every area of public life in America. While some non-religious people may hail this as a new day of tolerance, they should actually be quite concerned about this growing sense of christophobia. Since it is irrational and based on fear, christophobia is dangerous. People making irrational decisions cannot be helpful to the common good. People making decisions based on fear close their minds to information that does not play into their fears. What makes christophobia so dangerous is that if society can be irrationally afraid of anything to do with Christ, then it can also be irrationally afraid of other things. If we allow christophobia to become acceptable in modern life, then we set the stage for letting irrational fear about other issues to also become acceptable. Our nation has come so far in the area of civil rights, that it would be a terrible setback if christophobia continues its path toward social acceptance.
A society that is driven by irrational fear cannot long endure. For the sake of our nation’s future, we need public figures, teachers, community leaders, and even non-religious people to stand up and declare that is okay to be a public Christian in America today. That does not mean that everyone has to be a Christian, or even that those public leaders who declare it is okay to be Christians are Christians themselves. It just means that there should be a public recognition that it is not a “bad” thing to be a committed Christian who is in the public eye. If we fail to make that statement as a society, we may well find ourselves falling over the edge of a cultural cliff that makes it acceptable to exclude any sub-group in society. Surely that is not the society we meant to become.