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Topics: Cultural Engagement, Politics

Watch What You Say: When Speech Becomes Hate.

October 15, 2013

By Michael Berry

Progressive liberals are fond of characterizing Christian conservatives as demagogues and fear-mongers. Warnings about the decay of our constitutional republic, the decline of morality, and the loss of religious freedom are exaggerated, they say. Their attempts to see America depart from its Christian heritage in the name of tolerance and diversity are escalating from the subtle to the overt.

But don’t take my word for it. In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama gave us a chilling look into the future during his “Call to Renewal” speech:

Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason . . . Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality.

What our President is saying, between the lines, is that evangelical Christians must be prepared to surrender their values when they conflict with others’ values. According to the President, the “universal” values of tolerance, diversity, wealth redistribution, etc., are superior to Christian values. Nearly eight years later, President Obama’s Orwellian vision is bearing much fruit.

But in case you would disregard my words as demagoguery or fear-mongering, pay careful attention to what others have said.

Paul Diamond, the esteemed religious freedom expert and British attorney—known colloquially as a “barrister”—recently gave some dire warnings and predictions from across the pond. Americans had better “wake up,” said Diamond, before it’s too late. According to Mr. Diamond, the United States is only a few years behind Britain when it comes to the erosion of religious freedom:

“You cannot speak freely in Britain. One wrong word, one wrong comment, you’ll be arrested by the police for a hate crime.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Diamond’s words are not mere inflammatory rhetoric. Just last month, English soccer fans were warned, prior to a professional soccer match, that police would be on hand to arrest anyone caught uttering the word “Yid.” The word is considered by some to be an anti-Semitic slur. But for fans of the London-based team Tottenham Hotspur—a team with strong ties to Britain’s Jewish community—the word is chanted in defiance and is a source of pride.

Perhaps it is no small irony then, that the very symbol of Christianity—the cross—also has an inauspicious origin.

The cross was used by the Roman government as a means of torture and capital punishment. Jesus Christ himself was crucified on a Roman cross. Often, Roman persecutors would target Jesus’ followers simply because they believed in Him, rather than their pagan deities. One would think, therefore, that the image of a cross caused negative connotations of pain, suffering, death, and injustice. Yet, just as with the word “Yid,” followers of Christ began using the cross as a symbol of pride, maybe even in defiance of their Roman tormentors. The Apostle Paul went so far as to exhort Christians to pick up their crosses and carry them daily.

As Christians, one of the crosses that we must carry is the protection of liberty. We cannot allow the United States to close the gap on Europe. But that is precisely what is happening. Many of us sit idle as President Obama’s vision of an American Euro-topia materializes.

During his administration, our government ordered pastors performing services at federal cemeteries not to pray in “Jesus’” name. City councils attempted to pass ordinances barring anyone who speaks out against homosexuality from holding public office. And an American service member was relieved of his duties for expressing opposition to same-sex marriage. These are but a sampling of the pervasive attempts to coerce Christians to trade in our religious values for the “universal” values of the global community. Specifically, our President wants the America of the future to look more like the Europe of the present.

If we don’t “wake up” and start paying attention, the future could be here sooner than we expect.

Michael Berry is an attorney for Liberty Institute, a nationwide religious liberty law firm dedicated to restoring religious liberty in America. Michael joined Liberty Institute in 2013 after seven years serving as a JAG officer in the United States Marine Corps. He is a 1999 graduate of Texas A&M University and a 2005 graduate of The Ohio State University School of Law

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