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When Free Speech Dies


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Matthew 5 11God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.


Once again, the news has made it evident that free speech is dead in America. Don’t try to tell the truth or have an opinion that is different than the cultural norm. Here is what happened to Josh McDowell recently when he was speaking at a conference:


While speaking at the conference, he criticized critical race theory. McDowell claimed that many African Americans and other racial minority families do not emphasize the importance of education to their children. "I do not believe blacks, African Americans, and many other minorities have equal opportunity. Why? Most of them grew up in families where there is not a big emphasis on education.


That was his opinion, and he has every right to express it. However, because of the backlash of many people who thought his comments were harmful and disrespectful, he was asked to step aside for a while and allow others to run his organization during his absence.


What’s wrong with this? The absence of freedom of speech that is guaranteed by our constitution. Josh McDowell had every right to speak about what he considers a flaw in some cultures. Opinion is not fact … it is simply an opinion. It is his point of view, and you can reject it or embrace it, but you don’t stop the opinion from being expressed according to the United States Constitution. Okay, let's take another opinion and see if what is said is in the same genre as what was spoken by Josh McDowell:


Nationwide, research shows the graduation rate for black males is 59 percent — the lowest of any population in the country.


Or, how about this statement from Franklin Graham:


Reverend Franklin Graham, President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), said that “Islam is not a religion of peace,” nothing in its history “gives proof to peace,” and that it is “a very violent form of faith.”


Are these statements fact or opinion? Are they racist or truth? Culture is using every means possible to instill into our society a racist indoctrination. Free speech should have the right to say things that aren’t true. Any society that tells its people what to say and how to say it isn't a free society. A free society gives freedom to people, even those who lie to us every day from the government, to the media, to social media … they all have the right to lie to you. Does that offend you? If you believe in free speech, it shouldn’t. Even lies get a place at the table in a free speech society. In fact, I would say most people at the free speech table lie and they are all in competition for your attention in a free speech society. Your speech is free to both tell the truth and to lie.


I am not a proponent of lying. In fact, it is one of the Ten Commandments not to bear false witness (lie) about your neighbor, but I am a proponent of free speech … which will include lying. When anyone cannot feel free to say what is important to them in a free society, they begin to tailor their communication to comply with an overly sensitive world. I remember preparing for a sermon and the Scripture was very clear in addressing a specific problem in the church. I debated and debated on how I was going to say what needed to be said in a way that would not offend anyone. This went on for some time until I realized that a sermon watered down or massaged so it does not offend people, is not a sermon that should be preached. It comes down to truth versus not to offend, and too often we opt for the latter.


I know I am taking what happened to Josh McDowell further than the story relates, but that is the narrative today. Don’t offend anyone, and if your speech does then it needs to be sanctioned. Facebook started this trend with their ability to censor people who they felt were lying about an issue, especially a political issue. Facebook wanted posts on their platform to comply with their standards of free speech … it was their ideology or nothing. Dennis Prager and Prager U found that out quickly and sued to have their opinions not censored. New platforms emerged to compensate for Facebook's bias, but we live in a world where free speech is endangered.


What will that mean for the Gospel? Many churches have already complied with the new rule of no offense Sunday. Nothing said will move people to repent, forgive, or change their lifestyles. They leave church with nothing but fun facts about nothing, and no direct challenge to change their world for Christ. Churches that are telling the truth will face new challenges if they confront the culture. Therefore, many preachers have abandoned the call to be a prophet in the pulpit … instead they have become presenters of common beliefs. Presenters who don’t offend anyone and are open to everyone’s ideas of who God is.


Much of what is preached today does not represent the God found in the Bible … it is a hybrid designed to grow a crowd. You have heard all of this before, so it is not new, but it is a good reminder that freedom is not free … it will cost you something. For the first time ever, Americans are beginning to realize that their freedoms to vote securely, to have safe cities, and to have people in authority that they can trust are all in jeopardy. Freedom to worship and hear the truth will one day be looked upon in the same manner it is today when your politics don't line up with the culture. You will be censored. It is all coming to the end of time. Christians will be ostracized for their beliefs if they don't comply with the will of cultural norms. Josh McDowell is just an indication that cultural compliance begins with the restrictions of free speech.


Restrictions, censorship, and compliance … all are growing stronger around us. This brings me to the Words of Jesus that remind us we must be quick about what we now have the freedom to do.:


John 9:4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.


Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler

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