Chuck Colson has a column at townhall.com in which he explains why, in his opinion, the religious right is losing the right to speak out against the things they don’t believe in. It’s more honest than he intends.
David Woodward is a political science professor at Clemson University—one who has first-hand experience on how dangerous it can be to speak out in favor of traditional values: He almost lost his job over it.
In 1993, Woodward was asked to testify about the political power of homosexual groups in American life. He agreed to serve as an expert witness for the state of Colorado, which was fighting to defend the recently passed Amendment Two, which made it illegal to give protected status based on sexual orientation.
There, in a nutshell, is the heart of the problem: Christians are not just speaking their minds, they’re using their voice to try and pass legislation that goes beyond mere speech to actual, legalized oppression of those they disagree with.
According to Amendment Two, it’s not merely permissible to disapprove of homosexuality, it’s actually illegal to protect homosexuals from discrimination and oppression. And in a stunning display of Spirit-filled wisdom, it’s also illegal to protect heterosexuals, since that’s a sexual orientation as well. The argument could be made that Amendment Two mandates gay marriage in Colorado, since reserving marriage for heterosexuals alone constitutes giving heterosexuals a special protected status based on their sexual orientation.
Woodward, meanwhile, complains that his support for legalized oppression of minorities brought him some headaches and disapproval. Imagine, people having the nerve to speak out against him just because he spoke out against others! And not just spoke out against them, but worked to help strip them of their legal, civil, and human rights as well. And for that, people said bad things about him? What’s the world coming to?
Homosexuality is not the only issue Americans can no longer speak freely about: Speaking up in support of any traditional belief will earn you attacks from secular elites. “Whether individual, parent, church, or business, Americans holding traditional values are trapped in a ‘whisper zone’,” Woodward and DeMint write, “surrounded by invisible electric fences that threaten to ‘shock’ them if they cross unmarked legal lines.”
Yes, it’s terribly shocking that speaking out against others can result in others speaking out against you, isn’t it? The difference is that right-wing Christians aren’t just speaking, they’re passing laws denying gays the right to marry the person they love. Are secularists passing any laws forbidding Christians from marrying? Are they amending state constitutions to make it illegal to pass laws against denying housing, jobs, and benefits to Christians on the basis of their religion?
No, of course not. Secularists understand the difference between speaking out against something you disapprove of, and passing actual laws denying others equal protection under the law. Or at least they should. And when some group or other goofs up and does try and oppress Christians, other secularists will be right there denouncing it alongside the Christians.
Liberty is a give and take, a balance between divergent interests. If you want the right to free speech, you have to be willing to balance that by allowing others an equal freedom to speak against you, if they so choose. You can’t claim a special right to be protected against criticism for criticizing others, especially when your actions go beyond mere speech to creating a legal environment that intentionally discriminates against minorities.
As the Bible says, you reap what you sow. Christians are sowing intolerance, oppression, and judgment, and their crop is ripening nicely.