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Blessed are the peacemakers

How Christians can transcend division

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Here’s part of a Nov. 4 article from Breit­bart: “Democrats want to literally mask your children and then poison and defile them with racial hatred, gay-porn, anti-Americanism, and transsexual voodoo.” All Democrats, Breit­bart says, “champion and encourage deadly race riots at the hands of their own personal Brownshirts.”

Are you saying “Yeah!” to that screed? (It came with the customary photos of two black rioters atop a police car and a drag queen talking with a 2-year-old in the Brooklyn Public Library.) You may agree with me that the style is over-the-top, but do you agree with the content? If so, how does that fighting talk go with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount statement, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”?

Dutch journalist and theologian Abraham Kuyper in 1879 perceived danger on the left and founded the Anti-Revolutionary Party. Today in America, we need an Anti-Civil-War Party. The U.S. far left is offensive, but if all we do is react to it instead of developing Biblical alternatives that embrace grace rather than hate, we are at best clanging-cymbal reactionaries. At worst, the right may be as culpable as the left in bringing on civil war.

Let’s note a few reactionary tendencies and opportunities to transcend them. The issue of transgender use of bathrooms is still with us, but when it was hottest five years ago, a WORLD cover story asked about the costs of a potential “way of the future: the private restroom with a single toilet and a door that locks.”

We can have, and should strive for, peace regarding many lesser disputes.

One building consultant told our reporter that “his clients consistently chose unisex restrooms for their new constructions. When designing a multimillion-dollar project the cost difference between the two styles is minimal compared to the total cost of the project.” Individual-use restrooms maximize the opportunity for peace between otherwise-warring factions.

Take education, please—the biggest polarizing issue in the recent Virginia election, but not so big an issue in Texas. Maybe that’s because more than 300,000 Texas children go to more than 700 public charter schools, and getting one started isn’t onerous. Virginia, though, has only eight charter schools serving a total of only 1,200 or so students.

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools says, “While Virginia’s law does not contain a cap on public charter school growth, it allows only district authorizers and provides little autonomy, insufficient accountability, and inequitable funding. Virginia’s law needs improvement across the board.” I still want to see more Christian schools, and tax credits to help parents pay for them, but public charter schools can lead to both better education and community peace.

Don’t take pornography, please, but Christians have sometimes worked alongside secular feminists in the effort to protect young people especially. When we don’t turn opponents into enemies, opportunities for understanding and even friendship may arise.

It’s important for Christians to remember that the political spectrum is not a straight line, so we should not look at everything in right vs. left terms. It’s more like a horseshoe, as David French and others have noted, with the ends bending toward each other so the far left and the far right aren’t far apart.

A few issues—abortion is the most prominent—do not lend themselves to compromise. We can pray that God will change hearts, the Supreme Court will allow individual states to decide, and the provision of compassionate services will save lives. We can have, and should strive for, peace regarding many lesser disputes.

And that includes peace at WORLD. You may have noted Mindy Belz’s resignation column a month ago and Sophia Lee’s in this issue. I’m sticking around to help with our Roe v. Wade special issue in January, then leaving. We believe WORLD Opinions is pointing WORLD in the wrong direction, but this magazine is still publishing excellent stories. My academic and editorial work have always been separate, so I plan to continue as dean of the World Journalism Institute, training Christian would-be journalists not what to think but how to think.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.



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