Many on the left today want to muzzle conservative Christians in America — and they’re being motivated by a dangerous combination of fear and ideological fanaticism reminiscent of oppressive and regressive authoritarian regimes.
I remember being in Moscow back in August of 1991 when President Mikhail Gorbachev was put under house arrest. It was a failed coup attempt orchestrated by hardline communists in the Soviet Union’s government and military leadership.
At the time, residents were being told that Mr. Gorbachev was ill. In reality, he was being held hostage. Glimpses of truth, though, inevitably began leaking out, with Western news reports being plastered on a wall in a square by my hotel. A great buzz began spreading in the streets as the city’s citizens consumed the news.
I’ve been in other authoritarian countries where government officials monitored the Christian church very closely and allowed them limited freedoms. I was told by Christians in these countries that the communist government would only tolerate so much before cracking down and silencing any expression of faith.
I was curious to ask them why. The answer was always the same.
“It’s because the party does not trust the power of the church. The communist party wants to be the only power people are allowed to follow.”
Now, I believe I am seeing this phenomenon in the United States.
With increasing frequency, “progressives” say they don’t want religion in the public square. Big tech wants to edit what can be said by religious leaders. My own organization, Focus on the Family, had its Daily Citizen account suspended indefinitely on Twitter for accurately describing an individual’s transgender identity.
What is happening?
It’s obvious to many of us that left-leaning thought leaders in our country’s power centers — educational faculty, political leaders, business leaders and sports organizations — are attempting to ensure that religious expression does not challenge the state’s ideological narratives.
Simply put, the values imposed by politicians, and their allies, must be followed, period. This sounds eerily similar to what my Christian friends describe in totalitarian countries.
From bakers and florists to faith-based adoption services, tolerance for Christians and their conservative beliefs has tanked to all-time lows. Some may think I’m exaggerating because “civil religion” carries on across America. But look more carefully and closely. As long as you keep your faith private and don’t try and rock the cultural boat, you’ll be OK — otherwise, watch out.
People who support biblical orthodoxy are quickly becoming cultural pariahs and targets. The censoring or silencing of any perspective that doesn’t comport with a liberal point of view is standard fare.
It’s breathtaking to watch a culture flip so quickly. Ancient truths that have established our nation as the most prosperous, innovative, generous and vibrant are now being tipped upside down to pursue hate, division, grievances and other destructive paths.
Bureaucratic bullies fear Christians and Christianity because committed believers recognize, as the apostle Paul stated, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” It’s not here. Yes, we “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” — but we neither bow nor bend a knee to the immoral demands of any government or government official.
I believe the political left both here in the United States and around the world is deeply troubled by that conviction. In fact, France’s Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, may have summed up the collective sentiment of this antagonism when he suggested evangelicals were “a very important problem” because we “refuse to say that the law of the Republic is superior to the law of God.”
As an evangelical, I believe God’s law trumps any earthly edict. Yet, this first devotion is neither problematic nor something to fear, unless those in power want to force people of faith to violate their conscience and deeply held convictions. That’s because committed Christians make excellent citizens, always looking to serve others and point people to the world yet to come.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.