How to Restore Civility in the Public Square

Tim Keller | October 10, 2016

This month I will join Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times and John Inazu of Washington University Law School to discuss “Civility in the Public Square.” This topic could be read as nothing more than an appeal for people to be nicer to one another. However, I hope it will be an introduction for many to a much more crucial and ambitious project. 

It could be argued that America has never really been a genuinely pluralistic, perspective-diverse, free society. We have never been a place where people who deeply differ, whose views offend and outrage one another, nonetheless treat each other with respect and hear each other out. Those who have held the reins of cultural power—its greatest academic centers, its most powerful corporations, the media—have often excluded unpopular voices and minority views that fell on the wrong side of the public morality of the day. In the 1980s and ’90s, many white evangelical Christians wanted to occupy those places of power, and showed little concern at the time to create a society that respected communities with sharply differing moral visions.

Today, cultural power has shifted, but those who have newly come to power seem to show as little interest in…

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