THE MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS: SILENCE OF THE LAMB
PART 1 of 2
By Debra Rae
October 21, 2008
Last I read, the Declaration of Independence calls liberty an inalienable right with which we are “endowed by our Creator.” Except in the case of clear libel, as defined in law and punished by due process thereof, Americans may freely speak, write and publish free from government prohibition. This is true even if government disapproves of a publisher or his views.
No matter. John Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Bill Ruder, once admitted to a “massive strategy” using the Fairness Doctrine to “challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters with hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.” By way of example, the FCC revoked the license of a tiny conservative Christian broadcaster, WXUR of Media, Pennsylvania; and the Supreme Court refused to hear the station’s appeal.
Thankfully, under President Reagan, conservative talk radio once again blossomed in the 1980s. Stations could be confident that conservative broadcasting no longer would lead to license renewal problems or Fairness Doctrine complaints and litigation. Nevertheless, professor of politics Thomas G. West of the University of Dallas rightly fears that “America has less freedom of speech today than it has ever had in history.”
Although millions of Americans, including religious conservatives in the Christian Coalition, participate in the media reform movement that attempts to improve access to news, information and cultural programming, every radio, television and cable broadcaster is subject to a “wholesale system of administrative licensing” from the Federal Communications Commission; and the FCC is not necessarily faith-friendly.
Free Exercise of Religion
From Nancy Pelosi’s Faith Working Group to serious candidates’ hiring high-profile religious advisors, partisan politicians aspire to corner the market on god, yet one lone voice above all must be silenced—that of born-again, Bible-believing, fundamental Christians.
A not-for-profit public interest law firm, the American Center for Law and Justice provides legal services to defend religious and civil liberties of all Americans. Chief Counsel Jay Alan Sekulow assures Christians that the law does not require employees or students to check their faith at office or classroom doors—nor at factory gates. But most would never know it.
Truth is, as long as a reasonable observer would not interpret the expression as government endorsement of religion, proselytizing generally is entitled to Constitutional protection. By law, even employers may share their religious beliefs with employees just as long as there are no implied contingencies—e.g., embracing another’s religion as prerequisite to keeping one’s job or getting a promotion.
Even the local chapter of the liberal American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conceded that, when dismissed from the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Phil Mitchell suffered “an academic hit job” for expressing his conservative Christian ideas. Though he earned some of the highest student evaluation scores in the school’s history, Mitchell got the ax.
It stands to reason that being offended in the public sector is an inevitable price of free choice in matters of faith and morality. To be unlawful under Title VII, religious harassment must be sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter conditions of employment. For a supervisor to place a wreath over the entrance to the office’s main reception area at Christmastime cannot possibly qualify as “severe abuse” and, therefore, is lawful behavior, no matter whom it offends.
Nevertheless, a vague Harassment Law allowed one court to order employees to “refrain from any racial, religious, ethnic or other remarks or slurs contrary to their fellow employees’ religious beliefs.” Because some are offended when anyone merely alludes to his own religious convictions (just ask Phil Mitchell!), this policy makes it potentially (and unconstitutionally) illegal for employees to say anything whatsoever about their faith.
Muzzling believers flies in the face of our Founders who established the “laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Jefferson wrote that humans are “inherently independent of all but moral law.” Even though all fifty state Constitutions acknowledge nature’s God and moral laws, citizens apparently may not do likewise.
New Deal for Speech
America’s Founders clearly revered each person’s right to life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness and, last but not least, free exercise of religion—all of which are protected by government. About a century ago, however, liberals began to argue that the Founders’ view, as embodied in the Constitution, is unjust.
In their view, justice requires government to over burden rich, WASP males all the while giving special advantages to the weak and vulnerable. The “New Deal for Speech” treated speech as it does property—something owned by government and used by citizens, but only upon meeting government’s conditions.
It is under a specious “wall of separation” principle that the ACLU, People for the American Way, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the National Council of Churches war against the nativity, the cross and other such symbols held sacred to countless Christian Americans.
In no way are celebrants limited to a meager smattering of right-wing religious kooks. Some years ago, a Gallup poll affirmed that fully ninety percent of Americans celebrate Jesus Christ at Christmastime. A Fox poll showed that eighty-seven percent sanction nativity scenes—yes, even on public property!
Author Paul Kengor found that Bill Clinton quoted scripture and mentioned God and Jesus Christ more than President Bush, but you’d never get that from the mainstream media. Still, in the name of “separation,” a 5,000-pound granite-based monument to the Ten Commandments was indecorously ripped from the rotunda of Alabama’s Supreme Court building.
At the same time, Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India created a sand mandala in the third-floor rotunda of the King County Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington (Kent Reporter, 15 October 2003). Given that “civil-liberties groups defend other controversial public art,” Gene Edward Veith asks the fitting question, “so why not the Ten Commandments?” (World, 6 September 2003).
In calling for a “New World spirit,” Gorbachev names cosmos (Greek for “world order”) as his god. Alarmingly, cosmic consciousness has its roots deep within occult societies, as the Rosicrucian Order and the Theosophical Society. Even so, traditionally secular institutions welcome cosmolatrists, if not conservative Christians. For example, North Carolina State University hosted the Fifth Annual Spell of the Land Symposium featuring Gavin and Yvonne Frost, both Wiccans, who led discussion of “Real Magic in a Gaia-Conscious World.”
Christianity, a Barrier to Knowledge
Today, Christianity is treated by the mainstream media as being somehow dangerous—even pernicious. Sadly, it has become increasingly fashionable to accept that the “old age” defined by antiquated Judeo-Christian dogma must give way to a new, enlightened age promising full flowering of human potential, worldwide collaboration and enlightenment.
The so-called “inner voice of humanity” (the universe’s alleged consciousness) begs for “a pure moment of one” when peoples of the world will hug each other innocently, deservedly, metaphysically. Toward this end, the clear boundary between physics and metaphysics is obliterated by supplanting scientific study of the universe (cosmology) with its worship (cosmolatry).
The scoop on some forty-five million deaths by abortion since 1973 (almost one-sixth of the whole US population) pales in comparison to media coverage championing Gaia-Mother Earth, purportedly victimized by man-made global warming. This is true even though the pro-life camp is armed with data and religious fervor, but learned weather forecasters (try as they might) can’t reliably predict what will happen in two- to three- months let alone in fifty or even one hundred years from now!
Edited by University of North Carolina professor, Christian Smith, and published by the University of California Press, The Secular Revolution specifically details how anti-Christian intellectual leaders have substituted for biblical hope “their own visions of secular progress.” Using ridicule and sarcasm to preach the evils of defunct religion, The Secular Evolution documents how secular revolutionaries have effectively transformed science from a pursuit supporting theism into viewing Christianity as a barrier to true knowledge.
When former governor of New York Mario Cuomo sent his kids to religious schools, and then talked about it, he was pummeled for being “out of step” with the accepted evolutionary process. On the other hand, in the name of “free speech,” controversial Colorado professor Ward Churchill called the 9/11 victims “little Eichmanns” who deserved to die. It would appear that, in the secularist’s view, the former models ignorance, but the latter models true knowledge. Make no mistake. Churchill embodies the radical left that dominates college campuses across America today.
Bias against Faith—Not by Happenstance
Marvin Olasky describes America’s colleges as fortresses of bias against faith. On campuses nationwide, the notion abounds that, in order to succeed, our youth must be both secular and liberal. Increasingly so, learning at all levels is viewed as non-hierarchical, student-centered and collaborative.
According to the Banned Books Resource Guide from the American Library Association, the Bible is among books that educrats try to censor, yet the Bible is the bestselling book of all time and has hugely influenced world history and literature. Indeed, nearly everything written before the 18th century has strong biblical content. In the tragedies, for example, Hamlet worried about hell, and Macbeth yearned to be cleansed of guilt. Minister Jonathan Swift gave us Gulliver’s Travels, ridiculing human depravity; and Hawthorne wrote about original sin. And then there’s Spenser’s Christian allegory and Milton’s epic poem on Adam, Eve, and the Fall (Gene Edward Veith, “Ban the Culture,” World 19 November 2005).
To sidestep the Bible should we, then, ban all literature? Obviously not, but when Florida governor Jeb Bush promoted use of C.S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a statewide reading contest, critics from Americans for the Separation of Church and State attempted to ban it for its clear gospel message.
Apparently no activity is too trivial to warrant thought police intervention. Contemporary inquisitors are hard at work to stamp out religious allusions in talent shows, after-school clubs and fliers. A Texas middle school’s posting for a Bible club in Plano Independent School District was removed from the school’s internet web site; however, when an Alabama school board chose not to use certain textbooks because of anti-Christian bias, they were severely criticized for their attempts at censorship.
One of America’s most popular children’s authors, Shel Silverstein wrote and illustrated adult works for Playboy Magazine. Is it any wonder that his most popular children’s book, A Light in the Attic (copyright 1981), features sexuality, cannibalism and Satanism? Now considered a classic, the book outright ridicules Christianity.
Nix Lewis, but savor Silverstein? You got it right. Evans-Marshall v. Board of Education held that teachers in the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee) have a First Amendment right in the classroom that presumably extends to what Christians call obscenity.
The Separation Clause Selectively Enforced
Last year, the ACLU and People for the American Way sued a Texas school district for offering high school electives in New and Old Testament-era history and literature. It mattered not that the curriculum neither advances nor undermines religious belief. In contrast, the Excelsior public school in Byron, California requires seventh graders to study Islam by “becoming” Muslims. Students are given Muslim names; they recite Muslim prayers and get “extra credit” for fasting at Ramadan.
Bible, bad; Quran, good? You bet! The Muslim Accommodations Task Force works nationwide to bring foot baths, halal food and Muslim prayer rooms to schools everywhere. Schools like those in Bethalto, Illinois, that forbade a middle-school student from reading her Bible during lunch. Curious that another public institution in Bloomington, Minnesota (one of many) provides for its students a Muslim-only prayer room.
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It would appear that silencing Christ, the Lamb of God, has become something of a national pastime; but this practice severely limits the marketplace of ideas. Even more, it tramples my right and yours to free expression of religious conviction. Clearly, the bias is palpable, and the consequences egregious. For part two click below.
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