An image of three large crosses displayed across three Wallstreet skyscrapers to celebrate Good Friday in 1956 on social media has stirred up laments from people of faith for what may be a “post-Christian” America. The image shows three large 150-foot crosses lit up in the windows representing the three crosses on Calvary 2000 years ago. Sharing the image, Alex McFarland, president of McFarland Ministries in North Carolina, wrote, “Once upon a time New York City looked like THIS…we were not ashamed to invoke not only God but invoke Jesus Christ.” New York City now faces spiking burglary and crime rates, promotes abortion “tourism,” and has hired its first “rat czar” to deal with the city’s growing rat problems. 

SBA Pro-Life America shared similar sentiments on social media, posting the image of the three crosses alongside a skyscraper being lit up pink in support of abortion rights. “1956: Skyscrapers in New York City display crosses for Easter to celebrate Jesus who says: I give my life for you. 2019: Skyscraper in New York City lit up pink to celebrate abortion which says: YOU give your life for ME,” the tweet read. In 2012, the Empire State Building was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate gay pride. Of course, not everything in 1956 America was all rosy. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was in full swing to protest segregation on buses. Segregation wouldn’t be ended nationwide until 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act

However, Russell Moore, in his article “Crucifying Jim Crow: Conservative Christianity and the Quest for Racial Justice,” stated that the civil rights era was successful not because of progressive Enlightenment thinking but because Christians who had not spoken out against segregation were being confronted with their own theology and made to turn back. Christians had turned away from the clear teaching of humanity “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) and had embraced southern tradition over truth. “Instead, segregation and racial injustice were, at the gut level, a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Conservative evangelicals had their segregationist views confronted, not with an alien ideology, but with their own theology—a theology that emphasized both the dignity of the individual and the reconciliation of the community in ways inconsonant with racial bigotry,” wrote Russell. 

Today, those Christian values that turned the heart of a nation away from racial bigotry continue to decline. A 2019 Pew Research Center survey found that the number of Americans who identify as Christian had dropped 12 points. Another study posited that Christianity could become a minority religion in America as early as 2045. Ross Douthat, author of The Decadent Society: How We Became Victims of Our Own Success, stated he believed the decline could be traced back to the sexual revolution. “And that’s what shifts in the course of the sexual revolution,” he said, “that … conventional, middle-class morality stops thinking of Christianity, a Christian morality, New Testament sexual ethics as generally good wisdom, and starts thinking of it either as an ideal that people can’t live up to or as a patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic burden that we’re better off without.” Russell Moore, however, in 2015 wrote that Christians shouldn’t hold on to the past but look to the future. “We are not time-travelers from the past. We are pilgrims from the future. We have not come to reclaim something that was lost. We have come to proclaim Someone who has found us… If we take the opportunity to be the church, we may find that America is not ‘post-Christian,’ but is instead maybe ‘pre-Christian.’ It may be that this land is filled with people who, though often Christ-haunted, have never known the power of the gospel, yet.”

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