The ongoing assault on all things Christian continues unabated. Every day around the Western world new reports emerge of Christian persecution, anti-Christian bigotry and moonbeam political correctness. Each one in isolation may not seem so terrible, but taken together they make for a very ominous trend indeed.
Consider this incredible case. A Philadelphia court has banned a kindergarten student from using a Bible for Show-and-Tell. I kid you not! This is how the story goes: “The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with a school district in suburban Philadelphia that refused to allow the Bible to be read during show-and-tell. Donna Kay Busch had sued the district after she was told she could not read her son’s favorite book, the Bible, to his kindergarten class.”
One wonders if a Muslim kindergartner bringing a Koran to class would face similar treatment. Indeed, it is more likely that a student could bring in a copy of Playboy than to bring in the Bible. This is a clear case of bigotry and Christian-bashing.
A legal counsel involved in the case said this was a clear violation of the First Amendment: “This assignment was titled ‘All about me,’ not ‘All about the school’. The student’s freedom of religion should’ve been respected.”
As I mentioned, each individual case of anti-Christian bigotry may not seem to be all that serious. In San Diego an attempt is made to shut down a home Bible study. In the UK a nurse simply offers to pray for a patient and is fired from her position. In Australia Christian pastors are told they cannot speak about Islam, and that quoting the Koran is offensive hate speech.
But when you start to string them together, it becomes clear that the direction the West is heading in will spell the death of freedom of religion and the ability of Christians to share their faith or publically stand up for their faith and beliefs.
It is this incremental assault on Christian freedoms which is so sinister. If the EU or the US passed a law overnight saying that Christianity will henceforth be illegal, there would be a massive revolt and uprising by the masses. But by taking this bit by bit approach, the same result can be achieved, and most people won’t even realise it.
A recent article on hate crimes legislation by Erik Stanley makes this same point. He too notes how the slow but sure erosion of freedoms over time which is the real worry. He quotes the Scottish philosopher David Hume, “It is seldom that any liberty is lost all at once.”
He challenges those who argue that hate speech laws will not shut down churches or prevent the proclamation of the Gospel: “The fact that the Hate Crimes Bill does not specifically say that pastors may not speak biblical truth about homosexual behavior does not mean that it is not a threat to religious liberty. In fact, it is often the subtle erosion of religious liberty that poses the gravest threat. Like the proverbial frog in the pot of water, the Hate Crimes Bill serves to turn up the heat on pastors and churches.”
He explains: “There is only one difference between an assault not classified as a hate crime and an assault that is classified as a hate crime: the beliefs of the individual committing the crime. A crime is a crime under criminal law regardless of the belief of the perpetrator. We gain nothing under criminal law by knowing what a particular defendant thought about a particular victim other than perhaps to inflame our sensitivities or satisfy our own morbid curiosity. Motive for the crime has never been a required element of any criminal prosecution.
“Criminal law has operated since the founding of this country (and indeed before) by punishing people for their acts regardless of the belief behind the act. For purposes of criminal justice, we as a people have always been more concerned with whether a person committed a crime and not why the person did so. The Hate Crimes Bill seeks to change that by making the beliefs of the criminal relevant and an element of the crime itself.
“Behind a law that criminalizes the beliefs of a criminal defendant is a governmental disapproval of those beliefs. If society punishes a crime more severely solely because of the beliefs of the defendant at the time the crime was committed, then a message is being sent that society disapproves of those beliefs and that they merit enhanced punishment. Therein lies the concern for those who oppose the Hate Crimes Bill. It would be the first time that the federal government has formally written into law a potentially punitive disapproval of the belief that homosexual behavior is bad, wrong, problematic, or even simply not normal.”
When the State decides that certain behaviours and lifestyles are to be promoted and championed at all costs, soon simple affirmation becomes enforced acceptance. What the State deems important must be embraced by everyone, whether they like it or not.
“How long will it be before that disapproval of opposition to homosexual behavior is written into some other law? If Europe, Canada, and Australia are an example (and they are), then we do not have to wait long. Simply ask Pastor Ake Green from Sweden, who preached a biblically consistent sermon about homosexual behavior. He was charged with a hate crime, sentenced to jail time, and had to fight his way to the Swedish Supreme Court to have the conviction overturned.”
Stanley concludes, “We know that everywhere hate crimes laws have passed, hate speech convictions have followed. And why not? Once government has enshrined into the law a specific disapproval of a religious belief against homosexual behavior, it becomes easy to transfer that disapproval into other contexts. The American journalist Walter Lippman stated, ‘The war for liberty never ends.’ Those words are very true. It is far better to jump out of the pot when the water is tepid than to find ourselves on a dinner plate one day.”
Indeed. That is why we must never forget the big picture here. Isolated reports of anti-Christian bigotry seem to be small potatoes. But when the bigger picture emerges we find a deliberate, systematic and unrelenting attack on Christian freedoms. That is why we must fight each individual case while we have the chance, before it becomes too late.