The First Amendment and the Great Commission
President Larry Carter
America has been known to be the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” While our country has many examples of bravery, examples of freedom are becoming harder to find. In particular, the freedom of speech seems to be disappearing behind the cloud of “political correctness” or the loose definition of what constitutes “hate speech.” While we always need to be cognizant of the sensitivity and feelings of others we have entered an era where to voice any opposition or opinion that is contrary to other’s strongly held views is deemed detrimental or even dangerous to our way of life.
Ernesto “Che” Guevera, the communist revolutionary and right-hand man of Fidel Castro, once wrote to his mother, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in the struggle of the worker and the upheaval of society as we know it should be exterminated.” The more he believed in his cause the narrower his world became until anyone who didn’t see things his way needed to be eliminated. There are those in our country who consider Guevera a hero. There are those who, while not advocating murder, agree with him in principle. Anyone who doesn’t find common cause with their political agenda needs to be marginalized or silenced.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision to prevent employers from discriminating against their employees because of their sexual orientation should alert Christian businesses and churches to what might happen in the near future. Currently, the court’s decision is focused on one’s employment status. But, if it is discriminatory to fire an employee based on sexual orientation, what will come next. Is it beyond possibility that since it is illegal to hire or fire a person because of his/her sexual orientation that it will be considered illegal to speak about the issue from an opposing biblical worldview? Will opposing viewpoints be considered “hate speech.?”
Which leads me to the title of this article. How far into the future do we need to look before following the command to “make disciples of all the nations” becomes illegal because it is considered “discriminatory” and constitutes “hate speech?” Now, I am not an alarmist. I try to approach any topic with logic and reason. But, to see where we’ve come as a country in the last 50 years has to get the attention of even the most dispassionate among us. If you’ve traveled to India, or other similar democracies, you know how certain freedoms have now been eliminated because they didn’t mesh with the majority view. Their view was determined by radicals in positions of power who determined that to be a positive and productive citizen you can’t be an evangelistic Christian. Christians can practice their faith in India, you just can’t share that faith with others. What happened in India can happen here in America. As we move further from God and become more extreme or narrow in our causes and beliefs the right of “free speech” will become the domain of the most radical among us. I do know this though. Christians and churches will follow the Lord’s commands no matter the dictates of power. If it means the loss of non-profit status or even potential incarceration the church will refuse to bow the knee to political pressure or obey laws that are contrary to God’s expressed will. As “free speech” becomes only the property of those of a particular radical political persuasion it may lead the church to its finest hour.