While opposition to religious freedom continues to raises its ugly head, little do those who oppose religious liberty understand that freedom of speech and the practice of religion are integrated. Any attempts to chill either is oppression and violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The suppression of free speech is also a suppression of religious freedom, and the opposite is true.
The mayor’s office in Houston is another incident where both freedom of religion and speech have come under attack. Mayor Parker recently sent a subpoena to several church pastors demanding that they send their sermons to the mayor’s office for review if they have certain words or phrases in them: homosexual, her name, or any other similar wording. In other words, if the pastors do not comply, they would be in contempt of court and be prosecuted.
The Houston mayor’s office received a notice not only from the pastors’ attorney but also from the Texas State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Human Rights Commission to stand down and cease her actions. They knew that the mayor’s office was in violation of First Amendment rights and that the Mayor was stepping out on a dangerous cliff.
Attempts to silence the gospel has received its challenges over the decades, but the action of the Houston mayor is rather blatant. Hobby Lobby won at the US Supreme Court in their case over paying for abortion drugs in their insurance premiums. Such lawsuits and opposition to religious freedom and speech would have been unheard of a century ago, but religious freedom receives increasing opposition in our society as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) attempts to turn the hearts of individuals to himself and away from God. The Apostle Peter aligns with the Apostle Paul when he claims that Satan is like a roaring lion roaming around seeking those he wants to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan has placed his own hatred in the heart of those who oppose God to stand up against those who place their faith in Him. We should not be surprised at his tactics, but rather we should learn about them to be able to stand up against those who side with Satan.
When those in power attempt to suppress the gospel, they must find or create a message to replace it. That message arises from debauchery and deceit. Such a message looks at wrong and calls it right and demands that people must embrace that wrong through oppression and suppression of the truth. A path exists from seeing wrong as benign to ignoring it, acknowledging it, accepting it, embracing it, and finally practicing it. Once a wrongdoing enters the stage of being seen as a neutral practice, that opens the door to considering it as benign. As benign, wrongdoing can be left to grow within a society much like a benign tumor grows in the body. This benign tumor can displace other organs, and a wrongdoing seen as benign can displace truth through shifting it to “your truth may not be the same as my truth.” At that stage, truth becomes rejected in favor of some sort of alleged neutral ground. Once this neutral ground is established within the mind, the person becomes an evangelist for spreading this benign message (or new gospel) to the community at large and outward to society.
Modern philosophy is like this benign tumor by relegating wrongdoing and evil to a neutral ground. However, such relegation is not a neutral act as no act is neutral. Actions and practices step out from belief systems. Belief systems are not neutral or benign. Rather, they are advocates of one’s worldview or philosophy of life. One’s worldview does not sit benignly in the mind taking neutral positions on practices one encounters. People vote their positions in the public square. As a person encounters a particular practice, thinking, or behavior, one either accepts or rejects it depending on that person’s worldview. Accepting a new way of thinking can cause a shift in a worldview for incorporating what one accepts for making subtle changes in the worldview. If the incorporated thinking or philosophy comes in conflict with a component within one’s worldview, a struggle ensues until the new thought process or behavior is accepted or rejected. All of us are tempted with such recurring conflicts. The rejection of one way of thinking must transpire for the acceptance of another way of thinking. Neutrality calls for co-existence, but co-existence cannot occur when a struggle happens over conflicting philosophies concerning thinking and behavioral practice. Like a tumor, the new way of thinking or belief displaces the existing way of thinking or belief.
Neutrality then follows the path of rejecting existing philosophy past ignoring the new to acknowledging, accepting, and embracing a stance, worldview, or lifestyle of a new worldview, paradigm, or philosophy. Acceptance turns into advocacy much like what has happened within the Houston mayor’s office. The mayor not only rejected the biblical worldview for belief and practice, but she embraced a worldview opposite the biblical one to the point of practice and advocacy. Practice turned to evangelism for her worldview as she pressed it on the pliable and malleable Houston City Council to rule according to a tyranny of the minority. She was never neutral but an evangelist for a specific worldview that opposed the worldview of pastors she subpoenaed. Hers was an opposition toward suppression of these pastors’ speech and religious practice.
Neutrality much like tolerance cannot exist when there is opposition and conflicting worldviews. “Tolerance” is a smokescreen for the intolerant statement “my truth may not be your truth. Truth is not neutral nor tolerant of a lie. Rather, it creates a dividing line between what is right and wrong. It leaves no neutrality. The source of truth is God whose truth is universal and stands opposed to all worldviews that reject truth. There is no “my truth may not be the same as your truth.” That statement has its source in worldly view and not in God’s view. When one makes such a statement, they exclude all other worldviews and reflect intolerance of others while embracing “my truth.” The perspective of “my truth” is no more than a limited grasp of an alienated state from and opposed to God. It not only rejects God as the source of truth but other belief systems through the stress of “my truth.” It is ultimate intolerance. Intolerance leads to suppression and oppression of opposing worldviews and ultimately opposition of religious freedom and free speech.
For this reason, the Founding Fathers of our nation incorporated the First Amendment into the US Constitution. They recognized humanity’s fallen state from God and sought a higher law founded upon unalienable rights conferred by the Creator. They saw God’s truth as the ruling truth over the intolerant “my truth may not be the same as your truth.” They saw God’s law as the prevention of oppression of religious practice and speech. They knew that when humanity embraced God as the source of truth, they could live with one another in spite of conflicts and differences. The gospel is the message for ultimate freedom for embracing the way God originally created us and to live according to the truth found in Jesus Christ who claimed,
I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life (John 14:6).