There was a retired U.S. lieutenant-general who was pressured to withdraw from speaking at a prayer breakfast because some Muslims and atheists complained about him. (see story) The reason they were upset with him were statements he had made about how Satan is an enemy of the United States and how a certain muslim was an idol-worshipper. I understand that some people would not appreciate these comments and it was probably not the wisest thing to say, but since when do we need to agree with everyone?
There was another story from Vanderbilt University the next day which talked about how the Christian groups are being forced to drop certain religious beliefs. They even were told to remove the words “Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior” from their constitution. At issue here is whether to allow them to continue to be an organization on campus, or not. (see story)
Every time there is a discussion about religion there will be people upset about it because people believe different things. Does that mean that when someone is invited to speak at a prayer breakfast we pressure them to not speak for fear that someone might get offended? Does it mean that we don’t allow a legitimate Christian group to meet on campus because someone might not be a Christian and take offense to them?
The quote from the military story that really stood out to me was this one:
“Mr. Boykin’s intolerant views do a disservice to our nation’s longstanding traditions of religious freedom and pluralism and could potentially harm our country’s interests and the security of our troops overseas,”
I think that comment actually highlights the problem we are seeing right now. People are misunderstanding what religious freedom is and broadly including pluralism with it. Religious freedom and pluralism are two different things. Religious freedom says that each person is free to believe as they wish and worship as they wish, something that Vanderbilt is limiting. Religious freedom says that you can believe in whatever you would like without fear of discrimination.
Pluralism says that all religions, while perhaps different, can be true. In other words, if you have a view that says your way is the only way, you are not tolerant. Why would anyone believe in something, if they didn’t think it was the way? This makes for a very confusing world which is actually counterproductive to religious freedom. As it stands now, they are censoring speakers for fear of atheists or muslims being upset. This is evidently not the first time a Christian speaker was discouraged from speaking on a military base. This article cites both Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins being uninvited to speak. What does religious freedom mean if not allowing Christians to speak at a prayer service? If we truly have and promote tolerance, why the assault on Christians?
The reason I get concerned is the confusion pluralism causes especially for our young people. I am constantly getting asked questions by teenagers who are confused about all the religions and trying to reconcile their beliefs with what they are hearing in school from teachers. If we don’t want to promote one religion as a country, fine, but at least we can allow all to have an equal forum. There was one student I know of who wasn’t allowed to write a paper from a Christian perspective because the teacher disagreed. Another student was chastised for believing that the Bible was true by a different teacher who was against any belief in the Bible. If we are truly tolerant,it needs to be all of the above, not just for those who aren’t Christian.
Pluralism is not our foundation as a country. Our country was not built on pluralism, but on faith in God, not many gods. In God we trust was not a something that was placed on money, it was also lived. Pluralism does not provide any moral structure for a healthy society. Why? Because there must be a standard for good and bad. This standard cannot come from anyone other than God. If it does, then anyone can change the standard. If this is what we are about, then there are no real standards at all. If pluralism is the ideal, then truth lies in the eye of the beholder. I think that is a dangerous road to travel, just like constantly censoring any Christian influence for fear of offending someone. It is not necessary to protect every single person from being offended. People are capable of thinking on their own without someone protecting them. Meanwhile, Christians are offended when they are forced to be quiet. Where is the uproar over that?
We really need to pray for our youth who are growing up in a world that is getting more confusing for them. Pray for their faith to increase and for boldness to stand up for what is right, even if they are the only one.