A Godless Public Square - Part 03/11





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Published on Aug 24, 2011

A Godless Public Square: Do 'Private' Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?

It is commonly thought in western societies that religion is a private matter with no place in public discussions of law, economics, public policy, education, social ethics, culture and so on.  Recent laws and cases in western countries have seen bans on religious emblems being worn in schools, employment situations and in public generally. The UK courts recently ruled that Christians could not foster children out of fear their private beliefs about homosexual conduct might be taught to the children.

New Zealand society has not seen the litigation on this subject that the United States and Europe has. However the practice of being influenced by international precedent from the commonwealth and US jurisdictions coupled with our secular society which contains strong factions in favour of liberal views suggests that we will also fall the way of the rest of the western world unless a robust counter-view is developed and advanced in the New Zealand across disciplines.

For this reason it is important this conversation be had on our campuses -- particularly the three disciplines of theology, philosophy and law need to understand and hear each other so we can work together on this problem.

Theology -- Dr Matthew Flannagan (PhD in Theology)
How should Christians reconcile the requirement to live an undivided life with the expectation that they keep their religion private?

Philosophy -- Dr Glenn Peoples (PhD in Philosophy)
Can liberal thinkers consistently maintain that secular beliefs are neutral and that religious beliefs are not? Or are they in fact privileging their own secular viewpoint over all others?

Law -- Madeleine Flannagan (LLB and Post-Graduate Law Student)
In New Zealand the law around public expressions of religion is a little contradictory -- we have a right to freedom of religion and a right to manifest that freedom in public, but there are also laws which privilege secularism. Are public expressions of religion regulated by law?

Moderated by radio talkback host Pat Brittenden
Pat blogs at www.averagejoe.co.nz

This presentation was a panel discussion and Q&A session which took place between 7pm-9pm Wednesday 3rd August, 2011, at the Lib B28 (Library Basement), University of Auckland.

Thinking Matters www.thinkingmatters.org.nz 
Evangelical Union http://www.tscf.org.nz/your_campus/au...

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