Bob Cornwall

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Mixing Faith into Public Life?

by Bob Cornwall 11-12-2012
Photo: Group prayer circle, Lisa F. Young/

Photo: Group prayer circle, Lisa F. Young/

People of faith have long wrestled with the place of faith in the public square. At times religious groups have sought to dominate or control the public square. At other times, they have allowed the state/nation to dominate and control the faith community. Others have sought to distance themselves from the public square – with the Amish being the most distinct example of this.  There was a time, a half century ago or more, that mainline Protestantism played a significant role in the public square while evangelicals largely stepped away. In the past three decades the roles have reversed.

The question that is being raised at this time in a number of sectors has to do with whether faith should engage the public square and if so, how should this engagement occur. I have found Mark Toulouse's book God in Public: Four Ways American Christian and Public Life Relate (WJK Press, 2006), to be very helpful in this matter. Mark has a good sense of the relationship between religion and the public square.