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Ready to compete

"Ready to compete" Continued...

Issue: "Is Christianity in the U.S. doomed?," June 20, 2009

AW: There's been a Hitchens figure in almost every generation who is sort of the village atheist who announces the death of God or the irrelevance or malignity of religion. The extraordinary thing about American religion is its capacity to reinvent itself and reassert itself. Every time you feel as though it's dying out, the system is competitive and religious entrepreneurs redefine the product and the market. We have a new generation of entrepreneurs who can talk to a new generation of people.
How does this sense of religion's importance affect U.S. foreign policy?

JM: The irony is that when it comes to foreign policy America's often been completely clueless, which is odd. It may have a lot to do with the fact that there is a very secular foreign policy elite that generally and repeatedly ignores religion. When the State Department and CIA looked at Iran, they dismissed the idea that this could have anything to do with Islam; that was dismissed as mere sociology. When Hezbollah emerged, they looked at it in terms of right vs. left, although you would imagine the name "Party of God" would have given them some vague clue as to what was happening.
You suggest that the government's lack of backing for religion is a plus.

AW: A lot of religious people thought it would undermine religion. They said, "What do you mean? You're taking religion out of official public life? You're going to create an irreligious people who don't have any values." That didn't happen, because as soon as you separate them you get competition and you get religion even stronger; and that is something that Islam has yet to understand.
So, freedom to choose in religion, as in economics, is a strength rather than a weakness?

JM: In America one out of four people change their religion, which is much different from the rest of the world. If you choose your religion, when it comes to politics and work, you're not going to leave it at home. You're not going to assume that it's part of your life. It's going to go all the way through. If you've chosen to be an evangelical Christian, it's not going to be something that you park away when you go to the voting booth, and possibly not when you go to work.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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