February 6, 2019 | By David French
Father, speak into the hearts of our citizens to help us learn how to love one another, and in so doing, honor Your Word. Help us stand firm, speaking the truth in love.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Rom 10:12)
The first thing you have to understand about the battle for free speech, religious freedom, and freedom of association in this nation is that it is primarily cultural, not legal. From a First Amendment perspective, legal protection against government censorship and government repression is at or near an all-time high. The First Amendment has never been more robust. Panic over court decisions is mainly panic at the margins, whether key decisions and doctrines will be undermined, not discarded entirely.
At the same time, however, talk to virtually any social conservative — especially a Christian conservative — and they will tell you that they feel free less free to speak and to exercise their religion now than they did five years ago, or ten years ago, or 20 years ago. Why? Because of cultural shunning. Because of cultural shaming….
A media feeding frenzy followed, with progressive pundits across the land condemning Pence’s alleged bigotry. A hashtag, #ExposeChristianSchools, popped up on Twitter, leading a New York Times reporter to openly called for people to come forward and discuss their Christian school experiences. And, this week, a local private academy called the Sheridan School decided to prohibit its sports teams from playing games at Immanuel. The reason? According to the text of an email from the head of school, obtained by Rod Dreher, some students felt “unsafe.” No, really. Here’s the key paragraph:
Since the majority of students wanted to play, we were initially planning to go to ICS with the student-athletes wearing a statement of support (such as rainbow socks or warm-up jerseys). As we talked more, we understood that some students did not feel safe entering a school that bans LGBTQ parents, students or even families that support LGBTQ rights. Forcing our children to choose between an environment in which they feel unsafe or staying home was not an option. So we decided that we would invite ICS to play all of the games at Sheridan. Since ICS declined our offer to host, we will only play our home games and will not go to ICS to play. [Emphasis added]….
It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous this is. I attended a Christian college that had policies similar to Immanuel’s. For a dozen years my children attended a Christian school that had policies similar to Immanuel’s. I was the chairman of the school board for a year and on the school’s executive committee for four years. . . .
It’s time for Christian parents, pastors, and politicians to understand a simple fact — in the fight for religious freedom, we often focus our efforts on the less important battleground. Legal protections matter less and less when the culture drifts so far from Christianity that shunning, shaming, and exclusion become the norm. . . .
Combatting intolerance is a matter of persuasion, and it depends on Christians exercising a degree of personal courage and resolve — if you feel pressure at work, speak anyway. If you see a colleague facing persecution for his beliefs, stand with him. If a Christian school faces public shame and public sanction for its fidelity to Scripture, send your kids anyway.
Silence and compliance only embolden those who seek to sideline Christian thought and belief. Those who seek to censor and exclude have no reluctance to express their loathing for traditional Christianity. Christians must be equally willing to speak the truth and defend their faith. Otherwise, fear and shame will do what censorship cannot — drive the Christian faith from America’s public square.
(Excerpts from David French article in National Review)
For another great perspective on this topic, watch this video.