Does America Need a Christian Democratic Party?
Date: March 12th, 2017
The American political landscape appears in chaos, and Christians are seemingly under assault in both the legislative arena and judicial system, or so says Hunter Baker, an associate professor of political science at Union University. Based upon these reflections, he began wondering whether the United States was in need of a Christian Democratic party to defend religious liberty and promote other Judeo-Christian values in the polity. To this end, Prof. Baker organized a symposium of scholars to write their thoughts on topic. The results were published in the Winter 2017 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Political Science. We pick up this debate here with Prof. Baker and two additional scholars — Bryan McGraw (Wheaton College) and Micah Watson (Calvin College). Prof. Baker argues that a Christian Democratic party represents the best means of defending Christian interests in the public arena considering that lobbying attempts by religious organizations have not been entirely effective in convincing either the Democratic or Republican parties to protect religious freedoms and promote Christian values. Tony questions Hunter as to how effective such a partisan effort might be given that CD parties have not been able to hold back the tide of aggressive secularism in Europe, though Prof. Baker counters with evidence from Germany that shows how their CD party has favored traditional definitions of marriage and has been open to refugees. Prof. McGraw provides additional historical perspective in his segment of the debate, noting that CD parties were crucial in a number of European countries — most notably Belgium — during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and were also important in helping promote policies that favored religious interests such as funding for religious education. Nonetheless, Bryan points out that the political structure of the United States lends itself to a two party system wherein third parties have a hard time making any headway, and with Christianity much more diverse than in Europe, the chance for any one party to coalesce around a religiously-based platform would be very difficult. Prof. Micah Watson responds to all of this arguing that irrespective of whether a CD party could be successfully created in the U.S., it is nonetheless a bad idea because associating Jesus’s name with a variety of mundane policies that could divide citizens is not the proper use of the Christian mission. Tony asks if this even applies to potholes. Micah notes that while it may be acceptable to pray for pothole relief, building a political party around a single Christian identity would be difficult (echoing Bryan McGraw’s concerns) and bad for the long-term evangelization agenda of Christianity. Tony adds his own perspective to the debate with an intellectual appeal to public choice theory. (Those interested in reading Tony’s paper can request it via our Facebook or Twitter pages.) Prof. Watson shares some of his ideas for how Christians may engage the world politically based upon the ideas of C.S. Lewis. Recorded: March 3, 2017.
Symposium on Christian Democracy in America in Perspective on Political Science (may require subscription or university affiliation).
Prof. Hunter Baker’s bio at Union University.
Prof. Hunter Baker’s article, “Can Christian Democracy Be America’s Next European Import?”
Prof. Bryan McGraw’s bio at Wheaton College.
Prof. Bryan McGraw’s article, “Europe’s Christian Democratic Parties and American Possibilities.”
Prof. Micah Watson’s bio at Calvin College.
Prof. Micah Watson’s article, “Another Meditation on the Third Commandment.”
Prof. Anthony Gill’s article, “Christian Democracy without Romance.”
The End of Secularism, by Hunter Baker.
Political Thought: A Student’s Guide, by Hunter Baker.
The System Has a Soul, by Hunter Baker.
Faith in Politics: Religion and Liberal Political Thought, by Bryan McGraw.
Natural Law and Evangelical Political Thought, edited by Jesse Covington, Bryan McGraw, and Micah Watson.
C.S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law, by Justin Dyer and Micah Watson.
The Political Origins of Religious Liberty, by Anthony Gill.
Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic Church and State in Latin America, by Anthony Gill.
Should Christians Have Fought in the US War for Independence?
Hunter Baker on Secularism.
Hunter Baker on the Past and Future of the Religious Right.
Hunter Baker on the Future of Religious Higher Education.
Micah Watson on C.S. Lewis.
Francis Beckwith on Taking Rites Seriously.
David Buckley on the Demand for Clergy in Politics.
Nathanael Snow on the Evangelical Coalition and Public Choice.
J0n Shields on Democratic Virtues and the Christian Right.
Aaron Saiger on Religion and Charter Schools.
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