Christian Realism as a Remedy for Polarization

March 3, 2023

Simon Polinder, RFI Research Fellow and postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University, and Menno R. Kamminga, Senior Lecturer in the Department of International Relations and International Organization at the University of Groningen, recently co-authored an article for Providence titled, “Christian Realism as a Remedy for Polarization.” They write:

Though nations are never completely inwardly harmonious, tensions over COVID-19, religious liberty, abortion, racism, climate change and refugees are increasingly tearing at the fabric of Western societies. Polarization can occur within families, among colleagues, across political and social movements as well as religious groups and within companies and organizations. Not only do politicians seem at a loss for how to address the problem, but the rhetoric they sometimes employ tends to make matters even worse. Within the resulting us-versus-them mentality, contradictions are sharpened, and the extremes become completely alienated from one another.

While polarization is hard to combat, it would be wrong to see it as fate. If anything, societies seem to be in need for more fundamental guidance when trying to confront polarization. Could Christian realism offer a remedy? We do not pretend that Christian realism prescribes direct measures for tackling polarization. Still, we suggest that Reinhold Niebuhr’s thought and life story embodies a fundamental approach that can help us address the issue sensibly. Concretely, we propose the following ten Niebuhrian imperatives...

Read the full article: “Christian Realism as a Remedy for Polarization.”