Heidelcast 171: What American Christians Can Learn From Black History

For much of the history of North America, Christianity has been the dominant religious group and a major culture-shaping  force. In the USA it, as I have noted regularly here, until quite recently people spoke of the USA as a “Christian nation” without hesitation or qualification. For most of our history if a person aspired to high political office it was considered necessary to burnish his Christian credentials. Evangelist Billy Graham was a regular visitor to the White House and even golfing partner with American Presidents, some of whom called him for spiritual counsel and even political advice. Richard Nixon knew he was in trouble when Graham turned against him. With the rise of the Moral Majority and other such groups religiously and culturally conservative Christians began to exercise even more influence, particularly among Republicans in the 1980s. Today, however, we live in a different world. The tide has turned and even though most US Senators profess Christian belief or at least adherence to a Christian denomination, Christians who identify as evangelicals or as conservatives—though, if Darryl Hart is correct (see below) evangelicals are not particularly conservative politically—and those of us who confess the Reformed theology, piety, and practice are perhaps as marginal as they have been since the late 18th century. In 1993, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That signaled two things, one that there seemed to be a need for such legislation—which is remarkable for a nation with an unequivocal declaration of civil liberties, including religious liberty in the first amendment—and second, that it passed handily. Today, it is difficult to imagine any such legislation garnering the same sort of support. To be sure, this is not AD 65 or AD 114 or AD 250 or AD 295 but some old certainties about the Christian’s place in America are in doubt and we need to think strategically about how to navigate this new world. Lester Cahill (Wendell Talley) has been thinking and writing about just that question and he joins us for this episode. Lester is one of my favorite authors and podcasters. He has a varied professional background as a journalist, political analyst, and member of the business world. Though we did not set out to do this episode for the Martin Luther King holiday it is a happy providence.

Ps. Lester Cahill is none other than our very own Wendell Talley.



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  1. Thanks Dr. Clark. This great. I too am a fan of Lester. I am so grateful for all you do to provide the quality information on the Heidleblog.

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