Disinformation – the Campaign to Suppress Religious Liberty

The path to Christian persecution is simple. Opposition, Disinformation, Injustice and Maltreatment – for quick reference use the acronym ODIM. Events along that path take place every day around the world and even in the United States. The events can be orchestrated by either the culture or the government or they may represent collusion between these two prime forces. Americans may be startled to discover that a Pew study in 2009 reported that Japan, not the USA, is the country where people have the greatest religious liberty.  The report pointed out that cultural pressures to restrict public exercise of religion were increasing in the USA, despite constitutional protections and a rich heritage of being the place where religious refugees found safe haven. Other studies indicate that Christianity is more often the target than any other religion around the world. Disinformation is one of the powerful tools of a cultural war against Christianity. The US protects freedom of speech in all but the most egregious violations of decency, meaning that it is easy to spread disinformation about Christian practices, Christian denominations, and Christianity in general. A recent case in Florida is an example of an attempt to spread disinformation about Christianity with a view to discrediting it and suppressing its influence in the culture. A private business owner who provides meeting rooms (and other resources) to homeschooling families received a request to use space in her building to screen a film. The title of the film was “Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus.” After making the reservation, the person who wanted to show the film advertised it on the venue’s website as “Caesar’s Messiah Documentary (History of Christianity)” even though the film purported to show that Christianity is a fabrication. The advertisement deliberately distorted the message of the film.

The owner of the building where the film was to be screened requested that the film’s sponsor change the description of the event.

After the screening, the film’s sponsor filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Rights, claiming that the building owner’s requirement to change the ad  amounted to discrimination. The Commission upheld the business owner’s right to editorial control of the content of her own website. Her insistence that the film be truthfully described was reasonable and did not constitute discrimination. The film is a perfect example of one way to spread disinformation about Christianity. The protest against the owner of the building is another attempt to spread disinformation. The protest attempted to establish a legal precedent for accusing Christians of discrimination when they behave in accordance with their commitment to truth. The owner of the building is a Christian, and she knew the history of Christianity. She recognized that the film was not true history and insisted that it was misleading to advertise it as a documentary on the history of Christianity. It was not a documentary, and it was not history. The decision of the commission upheld the truth, but the decision was not stated in those terms. The commission simply stated “the request [made by the center] were to ensure that the nature of Complainant’s event coincided with [the center’s] guidelines, and not an intent to discriminate.” In plain English, the commission declared that the center had the right to enforce its guidelines for its own website. The case is a win for the business owner’s rights to her business guidelines, which happen to be rooted in her Christian convictions. The case described above recognized a situation in which the business owner had a right to her convictions. The decision did not judge her convictions, but rather her right to hold them. The culture is developing an attitude very different from that expressed by the commission when Christians in business express an unwillingness to participate in homosexual activity. In these cases, some decisions appear to mean that Christians do not have a right to their Christian convictions if they are operating a business. Again, it raises the question of whether the Christian is being judged with regard to a right to a personal conviction or with regard to the conviction itself. Christians who regard homosexuality as a sin, base their conviction on biblical teaching.

Not all Christians agree about the biblical teachings on homosexuality, a fact that LGBT activists are quick to exploit. Writing about references to homosexuality in the Bible, Dale Martin said, “My goal is to dispute appeals to “what the Bible says” as a foundation for Christian ethical arguments.” In other words, he wants to say that the Bible cannot be the foundation for Christian ethics. He develops his argument by rejecting the idea that biblical language should be interpreted in the context of the whole body of work of the person who wrote it. He further leads his readers down the path of an evolutionary process in human thought and culture that simply makes the Bible an inadequate guide now that humans have developed beyond its scope. This way of thinking corresponds nicely, for the purpose of disinformation, with the secular mantra of the evolution of human beings and human morals. The fact that some Christian groups concur with this line of reasoning makes it difficult for Christians who do regard the Bible as their guide. The culture is being fed another element of disinformation, too. With regard to Christians who contend that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, the culture insists that to name something a sin is to discriminate against people who practice that sin. The culture takes this view because Christians who consider homosexuality to be sin refuse to support political or social activism to normalize homosexuality, and they further refuse any participation in behaviors that are part of that political or social agenda – such as weddings for homosexuals. The culture does not recognize that Christians do not reject homosexuals as human beings. Christians reject the notion that homosexuality is normal. The disinformation about Christians who refuse to participate in weddings for two men or two women says that those Christians are engaging in acts of hate. Christians who believe that the Bible is God’s revealed guidance for faith and life will never hate homosexuals. They will not even make any effort to determine if someone is a homosexual. Christians who believe the Bible and live by its teachings try very hard to follow the rule of love. They are not always successful, but they do try to live by Christ’s rule. Jesus’ teaching to love the neighbor, however, does not require someone to condone or participate in all the behaviors of the neighbor. The neighbor may host parties for swingers every other week. The Christian may sincerely love this neighbor, and it may not even be hard to love this neighbor. However, the Christian who aspires to live according to all the teachings of the Bible will not be able to participate in the swinger parties. The same principle applies when a Christian photographer refuses to photograph a same-sex wedding. The photographer does not hate the two people; the photographer simply chooses not to condone or validate behavior classified as sin in the Bible.

For the moment, nobody is saying that Christians who refuse to “swing” are guilty of hate because swingers do not have a political agenda or any activists in Washington. Homosexuals do have a political agenda, and they do have political activists in Washington and elsewhere. Their political agenda is to compel everyone to speak and act as if homosexuality is normal. They publicize disinformation about Christians, saying that their refusal to participate in gay “weddings” is an act of hate. Christians who want to counter this disinformation must speak up. It is hard. It may be costly in terms of relationships. The question for US Christians is the same questions Syrian Christians and Egyptian Christians must answer when militant Islamists threaten them with death if they do not convert to Islam: Do you obey God or men? Do you serve Christ or do you just get along? There is a price for Christians in Syria and Egypt when they refuse to become Muslim. There is a price for US Christians who attempt to refute the disinformation being spread about them. Are Christians in the USA ready to pay the price for faithful testimony?