Prophetic strains

The most influential social movements for justice in America have been led by prophetic Christians: the abolitionist, women’s suffrage, and trade-union movements in the nineteenth century and the civil rights movement in the twentieth century. Though the Constantinian Christianity that has gained so much influence today is undermining the fundamental principles of our democracy regarding the proper role of religion in the public life of a democracy, the prophetic strains in American Christianity have done battle with imperialism and social injustice all along and represent the democratic ideal of religion in public life. This prophetic Christianity adds moral fervor to our democracy that is a very good thing. It also holds that we must embrace those outside of the Christian faith and act with empathy toward them. This prophetic Christianity is an ecumenical force for good, and if we are to revitalize the democratic energies of the country, we must reassure the vital legitimacy of this prophetic Christianity in our public life, such as the principles of service, care for the poor, and separation of church and state that this Christianity demands.

Cornel West
Democracy Matters