John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Irrelevant or Irrational

One of the worst things that has happened over the course of my lifetime has been the rise of a subtle hostility towards the Christian faith that manifests itself by viewing Christianity as either irrelevant or irrational. For example, one former executive editor of The New York Times came to the realization that he had been a reporter for decades, carefully documenting human rights. He had covered human rights from just about every angle imaginable. Political rights. Legal rights. Civil rights. Freedom of speech. Freedom of press. But he had hardly ever written a word about the right to worship where and how our conscience leads. For him, and apparently for The New York Times, this simply was irrelevant.

Consider also our current Presidential election. Economics are endlessly discussed. Social differences. Racial and gender gaps. But the cultural elite in our nation seem to be incapable of considering the role of faith (Christian or otherwise) in the decisions of ordinary people.

On college campuses across America, the professors you meet are not so much anti-religious. It is simply understood that religious beliefs are impossible for rational beings to hold. There is even a certain nostalgia for the innocence of days gone by -- a kinder and gentler time when we were all so naive and capable of believing in supernatural things. But now that we've lost our innocence, now that we've grown up and read books and thought it through we've come to see that religion is irrational.

Of course, media coverage doesn't help, and I know I'm starting to sound like one of those uber-right-wing fundamentalists -- but this is important and I'm trying to set the stage for some productive dialogue here.

When religion does make it into the media, it is almost always in its most irrational and irrelevant forms. Christians boycotting Harry Potter, or people protesting at the funerals of soldiers "in the name of God". I read an article today suggesting that members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus probably shouldn't be allowed to serve on the House Science Committee -- since, you know, these guys don't believe in science.

As if you cannot believe in BOTH prayer AND science.

Add to all of this a seeming inability to distinguish between the terms fundamentalist and evangelical -- and you get a portrait of blind, unthinking, intolerant, bigoted people committed to a stereotyped religion. And that allows cultural elites to dismiss Christians without having to take seriously what a Christian may be saying -- without have to ask whether or not that viewpoint may, in fact, be true.

Christian, in our culture, is seen by the culture makers as either irrelevant or irrational. And I think that must change.