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Joseph Loconte

Litigating the Good Fight

How Christians can avoid a persecution complex

A Season for Justice: Defending the Rights of the Christian Home, Church, and School
by David French
Broadman & Holman, 2002
215 pp.; $12.99, paper

Stories of hostility against Christians outside the United States have a way of putting problems at home in perspective. The deadly August attacks by Islamic terrorists on a Christian boarding school and a Christian hospital in Pakistan claimed the lives of ten people. David Wood, a teacher at Murree Christian School, lost a close friend in the assault. "I'll probably go home and cry," he said. Perhaps we should read every new book about anti-Christian bigotry in America with those plaintive words ringing in our ears. That might help to calm some tempers, invite reflection, provide clarity.

Certainly, readers who pick up David French's book, A Season for Justice, would benefit from such an exercise. Drawing mostly from his experience as counsel to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Religious Freedom Crisis Team, French addresses religious discrimination in public schools, universities, and the workplace. His tone is sober, not hysterical, and there's sound advice about protecting churches and religious groups from heavy-handed government. But the book is thick with horror stories of persecution and light on principled approaches to fending them off. And it lacks what incidents like the killings in Pakistan can provide: an appreciation for the deepest sources of American-style religious liberty.

French offers Tufts University as a case study in anti-religious zealotry. A student governing committee voted to "derecognize" the InterVarsity group on campus, ruling that the organization had discriminated against a homosexual in its ranks. To their credit, the group's leaders had warmly embraced Julie Catalano, a lesbian student, but denied her request to hold a leadership post. French, who guided InterVarsity's successful appeal, sensibly describes what was at stake: an attempt to use antidiscrimination rules to destroy the independence ...

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