The estimable Hans Fiene, the pastor behind Lutheran Satire, puts a name to a particular and time-honored technique for violating religious liberty. He calls it the “Babylonian trick.”
In a piece published in The Federalist, entitled Twitter’s New Trans Speech Rules Emanate From Religious Extremism, Rev. Fiene discusses a new Twitter policy that would ban users who use pronouns for transgendered individuals that they do not prefer. (That is, calling a man who identifies as a woman “he,” as opposed to “she.”) Or for calling a transgendered individual by his or her original name instead of the new name chosen to fit the new gender identity. (That is, calling Bruce Jenner “Bruce” instead of “Caitlyn.”)
In the course of that topic, Rev. Fiene generalizes about the left’s approach to free speech and then describes the overall tactic for targeting and attacking religious believers:
In all of this, modern leftists have made their position on free speech quite clear. They value it as a tool, not as an idea. Free speech is simply a means by which to acquire power. Once such people have acquired sufficient power to silence their enemies, they burn the free speech tool lest any of those wretched unbelievers use it to threaten their status or sway the members of their congregation.
For decades, especially in recent years, political and religious conservatives have witnessed liberals treating free speech in precisely this manner. Because of this, we have every reason to suspect that Twitter’s new commandments against misgendering and deadnaming are really just a recycled version of the old Babylonian trick where you deliberately design a law that is contrary to your enemy’s conscience, then punish him when he refuses to obey it.
In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s administration passed a law requiring prostration before the regime’s gigantic golden idol. This was a way to force the Jews to break the law and thus get thrown into the fiery furnace. This happened to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but they taught the king that it isn’t that easy to get rid of God’s people (Daniel 3).
This happened again under the Persian administration of Darius, whose officials pushed through a law requiring that all prayers go through the divine king. The target was Daniel, but he survived the lion’s den, though the officials did not (Daniel 6).
Today we see the Babylonian trick in laws requiring acquiescence in gay marriage? Who else but Christians would object to that? And who else would be punished for it? Or regulations requiring organizations to require abortion coverage. Or university rules forbidding religious “discrimination” on the part of campus organizations choosing their leaders. Who else but Christian groups would object to not being allowed to require leaders to be Christians?
Have you noticed any other Babylonian tricks? What might be some other possible examples of deliberately designing “a law that is contrary to your enemy’s conscience” in order to “punish him when he refuses to obey it”?
Illustration: “The Three Hebrews in the Fiery Furnace”. From the Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome, Italy. Late 3rd century / Early 4th century. Via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]. [Notice that the persecuted Christians of the Roman Empire also were the targets of Babylonian Tricks and identified with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.]