For a long time, Christians were the ones who often censored speech and thought. We were the ones tsk-tsking society, telling an ungodly world that they needed to live up to godly standards. We weren’t always perceived as the defenders of free speech.
Today, Christ followers are much libertarian in their approach, understanding that people of the world cannot be expected to follow the ethics of our faith without internal transformation, where true freedom occurs.
While I am dismayed at the blatant disregard for standards, moral living, and respect, I understand that it is simply because these people are following their sin nature. They don’t know any differently. I cannot legislate. I cannot wag my finger. I cannot guilt them into living differently. I must convert their heart and mind through my example of love and use of logic.
When it comes to freedom of speech, it’s rarely a Christian voice that is telling someone not to speak. It comes from other corners of society.
The Mob is Quelling Freedom
Think about all the people who have been shouted down for having an unpopular thought. This addiction to outrage is sweeping our country, and really, it comes down to the elimination of free speech, free thought.
Think about the swarms of people who are still chasing the thousands of Chik-Fil-A franchisees simply because their founder and owner – who has been dead – didn’t embrace gay marriage. And then there are the names being thrown at Jordan Peterson, who chooses biology in regards to gender. Liberal director Mark Duplass complemented Conservative thinker Ben Shapiro as someone he could have a reasonable dialogue with. And then he too was shouted down so loudly he retracted his admiration.
There are those who oppose global warming, evolution, free market principles, and minimal state intervention who run counter to popular culture and thought who are simply shoved into a corner and told to be quiet.
Run through the news and nearly every day someone is being humiliated for having an unpopular thought.
A Gallup/Knight Foundation poll of current college students finds that nearly 30% choose a “positive” campus environment , including prohibitions on speech, over an “open” one where offensive speech is allowed. In the same survey, more than half of students say that inclusiveness and diversity should take priority over free speech rights.We should all be afraid — very afraid.
A few weeks ago I visited Philadelphia and at every corner was reminded of the precious gift of freedom. I immediately wrote about the early struggle with slavery — and how it conflicted with our core value of freedom. And last week I reread these words from Benjamin Franklin printed in The New-England Courant, in 1722, I literally shook my core.
“Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech; which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it, he does not hurt or controul the Right of another: And this is the only Check it ought to suffer, and the only Bounds it ought to know.
“This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech; a Thing terrible to Publick Traytors.
Why do so many want to come to America? It’s because of our freedom. Our freedom allows our faith to flourish, our economy to innovate, and our thought to percolate.
We need to all rally for freedom — even if its speech we disagree with — because out of that messiness comes truth.