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Auckland Event: Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?

Every year the Christian campus groups at Auckland University host a week-long series of outreach events that focus on Jesus and Christianity. This year we’re pleased to be involved in an event examining the role of religious beliefs in the public arena. The event is open to the public, so if you’re in the Auckland area, you’re welcome to join us.

Here are the details:

A Godless Public Square: Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?
A Jesus Week Panel Discussion
WHEN: 7-9pm Wednesday 3 August
WHERE: Lib B28

Christian theological convictions ought to impact the whole of life both in the private and public spheres; this is what the idea of an “undivided life” means, Jesus is Lord of all aspects of our lives.

Yet this consequence of Christian faith conflicts with a pervasive contemporary attitude: the view that that religion is fundamentally a private matter. It is accepted that a Christian is free to utilise theological convictions when they make decisions about their own life but in a pluralistic society it is increasingly deemed inappropriate to bring such convictions into public discussions about morality, law, politics, economics, education, scholarship and so on. The desire to influence society with Christian ideals or to convert others to the faith is viewed by many as an intolerant desire to impose one’s private views onto others.

It is widely accepted that theological convictions can govern churches and the private lives of believers yet we are told that the public square – government, public policy, the courts, the academy, education, business, arts, media, etc – should be secular only.

This event looks at this issue. The conversation will span Theology, Philosophy and Law led by a panel made up of Christian representatives from each discipline along with you the audience.

Up for discussion are issues like:

– Is it wrong for Christians to impose their ‘private’ religious beliefs onto others?
– Is secularism the neutral perspective it is claimed to be?
– Are public expressions of religion regulated by law?

Bring your own questions and ask them at the Q & A session.

This event is brought to you by the Evangelical Union and Thinking Matters as part of Jesus Week.

Panel:

Hitchens and Haldane Debate Secularism and Faith in the Public Square

Last month, John Haldane and Christopher Hitchens participated in a discussion at Oxford University. The dialogue, organized by the Veritas Forum, considered whether secularism or religion provides a superior public philosophy.  The issue of whether the public square should be free of appeals to faith is fiercely contested today in the Western world. Both speakers give their opinions on this question, as well as examining which worldview can deliver a better foundation for human rights, liberties, and shared ideals. John Haldane is the Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews and the Director of their Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. Christopher Hitchens is a essayist, journalist and author several books, including God is Not Great.

The video from the exchange has just gone up on YouTube in ten parts (H/T: Edward Feser) and the audio can be found here. I’ve embedded the Vimeo video below (courtesy of the Veritas Forum).

‘We Don’t Do God’? Secularism and Faith in the Public Square from The Veritas Forum on Vimeo.