Ross Douthat Speaks on ‘Hard Choices: Christian Politics in a De-Christianizing Society’

“Your first loyalty is not to your coalition, it’s not to your allies, as necessary as coalitions and allies may be. Your first allegiance always has to be to Christ and to his Church,” were Ross Douthat’s bracing words to Benedictine College students, faculty, and friends during his February visit. Mr. Douthat, a well-known New York Times opinion columnist and author traveled to Atchison to give a presentation on “Hard Choices: Christian Politics in a De-Christianizing Society,” an event sponsored by Benedictine College’s Center for Constitutional Liberty with support from the Jack Miller Center.

The hard choices he spoke about affect every Christian attempting civic engagement in today’s polarized political climate. Douthat explained that one consequence of this polarization is that the far-left is post-Christian and the far-right reduces Christianity to a box to be checked. When faced with these extremes, he told his listeners to “be aware that your choices are not always going to be ideal and keep that sense in your mind while you are doing politics.”

Though this seems like a pessimistic message, the Times columnist told the crowd not to succumb to the counsel of despair. These ‘hard choices’ don’t have to lead to paralysis and inaction. Instead, he encouraged all Christians to build “healthy families, stable communities, and attractive institutions to offer to a fragmented society a different model of life.” This exhortation to model community in an age of incivility is exemplary of how Mr. Douthat promotes rational, virtuous, and truly Christian civic engagement. He prompted his listeners to do the same by asking themselves these three simple questions:

How can I be a Christian?

How can I make Christian choices?

How can I build my life on Christian principles?

You can watch Mr. Douthat’s remarks in full here on the Benedictine College Lectures YouTube channel.


Anna Sluder