If you want to implement a police state in the West in which freedom of speech, along with freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are savaged, if not eliminated altogether, there is one good way to bring it about. Simply allow a diabolical political ideology free rein for a while and wait for the reaction.
As more and more evil is committed by this ideology (BTW, it starts with “I” and ends with “slam”), eventually the people rise up and demand that something be done about it. What should be done is for the government to crack down on those causing all the trouble. But instead of focusing just on Islam, plenty of states are using Islam to clamp down on all religions.
How convenient. Tar all religious faiths with the same brush, and presto, you can deal with all religion in one fell swoop. We see this happening all over the West. New laws are brought in to deal with terrorism and extremism, but then they are used to attack Christianity especially.
This is not surprising, since most secular left states hate Christianity more than they do Islam. Thus it becomes very handy to have an excuse like this to attack Christianity, even though the initial cause of all the new legislation was and is Islam.
Consider a classic case of this in the UK: the Extremism Disruption Orders. It is supposed to be about radical Islam, but all sorts of folks see some very real dangers here. Christian groups are certainly worried. Voice For Justice UK for example has just put out this post about the EDOs. It begins;
In its drive to counter terrorism, the Government’s yet to be introduced Counter-Extremism Bill will, if and when passed, bring into law Extremism Disruption Orders, primarily aimed (we are told) at combatting hate preaching by radical Islamists. Of which, in the UK, we presumably have a great number.
Any measures to combat Islamic terrorism are of course to be welcomed, but the proposed plans specifically include any views deemed to go against our newly defined British values – even if non-violent and legal. This would clearly target not just radical Islamists, but also much mainstream Christian teaching. A sermon, for example, on the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman would be prohibited – as might also affirmation of the belief that Jesus is the Son of God, which could be deemed offensive to other religions.
Even with our current safeguards for free speech, we’ve already seen street preachers – quoting Leviticus – arrested for homophobia and hate crimes, but without a doubt the situation could be infinitely worse if these banning orders ever become law. Imagine … peaceful pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics – banned. Mention of clearly documented medical risks attached to homosexual sex – banned. Reference to DNA identification of gender – banned. You name it … the Government will ban it.
This is a clear attack on free speech. It goes against everything our nation holds dear, and the real values on which our society is founded.
One MP made a similar warning:
New banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists should be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, a Tory MP has argued. Mark Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.
In a letter to a constituent, Mr Spencer, the MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”. Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.
A group of religious leaders agree:
Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) in the forthcoming counter-extremism Bill look set to rely on a test of extremism that threatens the very democracy they are meant to protect. Many people will fall foul of EDOs and, as the former head of MI5 has said, “harmless evangelicals” could be among them.
Evangelicals like William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury and Josephine Butler, though revered now, faced many malicious accusations during their lifetimes. Today Christians can be labelled “extremists” by those who disagree with Christianity. For some such people, EDOs will be a gift. For the Church, they will be a disaster.
Indeed, it is so bad that not just religious groups, but decidedly non-religious groups have united to voice their grave concerns about this:
The Christian Institute and the National Secular Society have become unlikely bedfellows in their fight against the government’s proposed Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs). The “writing could be on the wall” for freedom of speech in the UK if EDOs are introduced next year as planned, the two groups have warned.
Extremism Disruption Orders have been conceived by this government as a means to go “beyond terrorism” and “eliminate extremism in all its forms,” in the words of Chancellor George Osborne. By disrupting the lawful activities of all those the government deems “extremist,” it hopes to crack down on such ideas before they develop into terrorism.
But the proposals have been slammed for being too vague, allowing the government to penalise any form of speech outside of the establishment narrative, even if it is not expressly illegal. Examples could include teaching Christian religious doctrine, environmental activism, or disseminating trade union manifestos.
Chillingly, in May the Prime Minister David Cameron told the National Security Council: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens, ‘As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’. This government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach.”
The Christian Institute, a conservative Christian organisation, and the National Secular Society have both been vocal in their opposition to the orders and their defence of free speech. Now they have joined forces, as founder members of Defend Free Speech, a campaign set up to oppose the introduction of EDOs.
Consider part of just one article from one atheist website:
On the face of it, it might be tempting to laud such measures, especially when the measures are presented as something like “intolerance of intolerance.” But as Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, reminds us, these orders have great potential to abuse freedom of speech. He explains:
“[T]hey are the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain. The spreading of hatred is far too vague a concept to be the basis of legal sanctions, and would be worryingly open to misuse, particularly by ideological opponents.”
And even homosexual activists have gotten on board here. As Peter Tatchell writes:
The Defend Free Speech campaign is spearheaded by normally rival groups, the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society. It is backed by former shadow Home Secretary David Davis MP, Caroline Lucas MP, ex Chief Constable Lord Dear – who will lead the campaign in the House of Lords – and human rights defender Peter Tatchell. Other supporters include Big Brother Watch, English PEN, the Manifesto Club and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
The campaigners warn that the Government’s proposals to tackle extremism – in particular far right and Islamist extremism – are so broad and vague that they could penalise a range of dissenting and minority opinions.
They say the sweeping new powers will have a chilling effect on free speech because the Government has repeatedly failed to set out a definition of what will be considered extreme. Ministers have, however, confirmed that the legislation will clamp down on extremists even if they have not broken the law – a very sinister and menacing attack on liberty and human rights.
When you have such a wide-array of groups condemning a law, then you need to stand up and take notice. By all means bring in decent legislation which specifically targets one of the biggest threats we face today: expansionist Islam. But do not bring in overly broad, nebulous and unhelpful laws that target those we most need to hear from: biblical Christians.