Secularist Senator Marcello Pera: "We should — we must — call ourselves Christians"
Have you ever noticed that some of the most significant defences of Christianity have been made by non-Christians and non-believers?
While this combination may seem strange at first glance, it's actually not. Dig a little deeper, and you'll uncover their significant respect for the classical liberal tradition of religious thought — and a recognition of Christianity's historical role in the founding of liberal democratic principles. A religious Christian's best ally isn't always a fellow traveller; rather, it can often be a non-religious individual who understands the importance of faith, and strenuously opposes the persecution of Christians.
Marcello Pera is one of those individuals. He teaches political philosophy at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University, is a former president of the Italian Senate, and co-authored a book, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam (2006) with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). In his new, thought-provoking book, Why We Should Call Ourselves Christians, he proves why he is one of the more unusual and enlightened supporters of Christianity in the academic world.
Pera describes himself as a classical (or "old school") European liberal. He has "always looked to the American experiment, founded on a myth of a ‘city on the hill' or a ‘nation under God' as the best antidote to European philosophical and political infatuations". He also regards himself as a secular individual, but not in the modern sense. While he "opposes theocracy, the submission of the state to ecclesiastical hierarchies, and the interference of churches with democratic decision", his secularism "does not oppose religion, nor does it take Christianity as a fairy tale for the unintellectual".