While blacks and women in America have been gaining rights and a share in decision-making on the national level that they should have had decades ago, another large group of Americans seems to be losing influence. Many Christians are now strangely intimidated into silence. Their contribution to public-affairs debates is being increasingly disqualified as sectarian.

The “disfranchisement” of Christians in America, like the oppression of blacks and the ward or tutee status imposed on women, depends on myths. These myths are expressed without being clearly understood and are repeated, in many cases, by the very people whose interests they suppress. Undoubtedly the myth of white supremacy intimidated a substantial portion of the Negro population for decades, substantiated as it appeared to be by the continuing relegation of the Negro to servile or inferior status. But at a certain point in their history, blacks repudiated it. And once its existence was acknowledged, it was rather quickly rejected, in principle at least, by whites as well.

What of the status of women? We should distinguish between the biblical distinction of the function and role of the two sexes, accepted by all biblical Christians, and the complex of social and cultural attitudes now customarily if somewhat oddly entitled “male chauvinism.” Needless to say, such a complex of attitudes, particularly when it was accepted or at least to some extent unresisted by women themselves, was a powerful factor in keeping them from enjoying the full measure of the dignity with which the Creator endowed them as well as the formal rights to which the Constitution and public laws entitle them.

The situation of Christians in America today, like that of ...

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