Despite my recent insistence that I would write only one post on religious liberty — I was so naïve in those days — I’d like to follow up on some recent tweets:

It’s well known that passionate Christian commitment drove the movement to abolish slavery first in the United Kingdom and then in America; it’s also well known that the Civil Rights movement was theological and spiritual through and through. And yet these points are too often forgotten when people associate religious freedom exclusively with what tends to get called the Religious Right here in America. That association is both local and temporary, and there is no reason to think that it will continue indefinitely. The farther we project from our own moment the harder it is to guess what political and social roles Christianity will play; and the farther we get from our own geographical territory the more peculiar (by our standards) the public role of Christianity tends to be.

What’s curious, and to me deeply saddening, is that neither the political Left or Right keeps these points in mind. I can scarcely blame liberals for linking Christianity with the Republican Party when so many conservative Christians do exactly the same thing. And yet if we’re going to think wisely and well about the value of religious freedom, it’s vital that we extend that thinking beyond our locality and our moment. Whatever conclusions you draw on these matters, please don’t rely solely on the evidence that the News puts before your eyes. Think wider; think longer.