Prager, Metaxas and Powers tackle 'Faith and Freedom in the Public Square'
New York, NEW YORK – This past Monday evening, President of The King’s College, Dr. Gregory Allen Thornbury hosted a discussion on the topic of “Faith and Freedom in the Public Square” at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (West Side). Speakers included nationally syndicated radio show host, Dennis Prager, author and Senior Fellow for The King’s College, Eric Metaxas and USA Today columnist, Kirsten Powers. The aim of the event was to examine faith-related challenges facing the United States, and Western civilization as a whole, and to explore possible solutions to these problems.
King’s partnered with the media and entertainment company, Hashtag Productions, who promoted and filmed the event and sold tickets on their website.
Thornbury told the Tribune that the purpose of the discussion was to “take stock of this remarkable cultural moment where something that seems so obvious to previous generations--the First Amendment--is being profoundly drawn into question both at the level of popular culture and also the legal system,” and, he added, “to gather together some friends of the college together to discuss these issues."
Though we live in a country that prizes liberty over almost any other good, it is hard to ignore the challenges that arise when a group of individuals lays claim to absolute, objective truth. Today many Christians read verses like 2 Corinthians 3:17 and John 8:32 and wonder how, in a world where Christians are persecuted abroad and silenced at home, can freedom flourish?
“Religious liberty is central to our nation’s founding,” Powers stressed.
The problem, according to Metaxas, is that “for the past 40 years, the basics of American tradition haven’t been taught.”
“Now religion is seen as a threat to religious liberty,” Prager, a Jew who strongly advocates for Christian freedom around the world, noted.
Metaxas voiced his outrage concerning “gutless” Americans who, at the fear of being shunned or rebuked, allow their peers to silence their beliefs. According to Metaxas, the country’s passive approach to the conflicts affecting Christians in Syria and Iraq reflects weak leadership in the White House. He specifically mentioned President Obama’s “bloodlessness” and “lack of passion” when speaking of the anti-Christian hate crimes carried out by terrorist groups like ISIS.
“People don’t hate evil. People hate being bothered to fight evil,” Prager explained.
The panel went on to discuss a wide range of hot topics like gay marriage and the plight of Christian organizations like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
Metaxas suggested that Americans are forgetting “the idea that freedom is sacred,” and it is imperative to defend others’ right to say things with which we do not agree.
“Christians are called to love and serve,” Powers said, emphasizing that serving is not the same as endorsing or affirming others’ actions.
While Christians are called to tolerate and respect the rights of others, national decisions that offend the moral standards of religious individuals demand a response. Prager offered advice to Christian and Jewish conservatives when addressing contentious topics like gay marriage.
“Compassion in the micro and standards in the macro," Prager said.
After the event, students, alumni, faculty and guests congregated in the lobby of 150 W 83rd to visit with the panelists and get their books signed by Prager and Metaxas.
Joseph Holmes (’16), who attended Monday night’s talk, shared a key take-away:
“I learned that there’s a positive growing consensus that we’ve gotten civility wrong,” Holmes said. “We’ve confused civility with not discussing certain topics.”
Thornbury told the Tribune that once the video is edited and posted to Hashtag’s website, “it will be a great way to show that these conversations are happening at King's."
“I think it’s important to get opinions from outside of King’s,” Anna Matthews (’15), who volunteered at Monday’s event, said. “King’s can be a cloister and we need outside opinions from the real world.”