Socialism 101: Utopian Dream or Dystopian Nightmare

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Washington, D.C.—One of the more disturbing things about the current political debate is the ascendancy and mainstreaming of socialism and socialist ideology.  Recent surveys confirm that members of the millennials and Gen-Z groups are far more supportive of socialism and redistributive economic policies than their elders.  For example, a recent survey revealed that 61% of 18-24 year olds have a positive response to the word “socialism,” while only 29% of 55-64 shared their sentiments.

Why is this important? It matters because ideas have consequences.  Good ideas can lead to human flourishing.  Bad ones have victims—they can diminish and destroy people and civilizations.  Therefore, before fully embracing socialism we should be asking some important questions.  Here, we briefly explore two important aspects of socialism.  First, what is the worldview behind socialism? Second, what has the track record of socialism been historically?

Socialism, as a utopian movement, asserts that humans are intrinsically good, and that under the right conditions, their good nature will emerge.  Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his later Marxists disciples believed, for example, that free from the restrictive obligations to church, family, and community, that individuals would self-actualize and experience the greatest good.  Furthermore, that the state, as a collective of many “free” individuals coming together, is the highest good and is therefore entrusted in helping to liberate individuals, ultimately dictating back to the people what is “good” for them.   In socialism, power and authority shifts away from the family, the church, and local communities to the state.  That is why socialism is called a “statist” movement.

Socialism is “soft” communism.  It is a definite step down the road of totalistic government control.  In socialism the government uses confiscatory tax schemes and redistributes resources, passing a myriad of laws than burden citizens and suffocate freedom. Communism is extreme socialism with absolute central government power and control over the means of production, distribution of resources, and nearly all aspects of life.  It has been observed the both systems lead to the loss of motivation to work hard, as the government confiscates most if not all of the fruit of your labor. Also, both communism and socialism invariably lead to diminished individual freedom and the loss of civil rights.

In contrast, the American republic was birthed by the Judeo-Christian concept of original sin—recognizing the fallenness of man.  The truth recognized here is that, being sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, our natural bent is towards selfishness and sin.  Not only is the individual corrupt and corruptible, but the state is in no better position because it is a collective of sinful individuals with power.

We believe that, though fallen, individuals have dignity and worth because they are created in God’s image.  In our experience, this led the Declaration of Independence, which acknowledged that governments exist to secure the inalienable rights given to us by God.  Those rights include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (virtue).  The U.S. Constitution acknowledged our fallenness and the corrupting influence of power by placing a separation of powers between government branches with checks and balances to keep the federal government from becoming too authoritarian and abusive.  This worldview led to the historically unprecedented protection of individual civil liberties, as our founders believed that people have inherent dignity because they are created in the image of God. Though not perfect, our system, including free market capitalism, has been the envy world, repeatedly emulated by nations desiring freedom, peace, a prosperity.

Compare socialism. Historically speaking, socialism has not faired very well at all.  In fact, everywhere it has actually been tried, it has failed.  The Soviet Union.  China.  Cambodia. Cuba. Venezuela.  Need I go on?  The socialist promise to liberate the individual from moral and economic oppression has largely backfired, leading to, at worst, totalitarianism, and at best, a crushing authoritarianism that more often than not subverts individual economic incentives and basic human rights.  Socialism’s utopian promise has, in most cases, devolved into a dystopian nightmare.

What is the actual fruit of socialism?  The utopian promise of liberation of the masses resulted rather in their actual enslavement by the very state that promised their freedom.  Oppression didn’t disappear, it increased exponentially. Socialist regimes suppressed religious freedom and decimated nearly all civil rights.  Freedom of speech was crushed.   Dissent led to the loss of our most precious human right—life, resulting in the death of millions.  When the state is God, it can do anything, including killing with impunity. It is estimated that in the 20th century communist regimes, including those of Stalin, Mao and the Khmer Rouge, killed between 85 to 100 million of their own populations.  Socialism’s fruit is rotten to the core.

Has socialism had any impact here?  Sadly, yes.  Many Americans continue to nurse and prop up the same failed utopian myths and cultural lies that produced such bitter fruit in totalitarian nations.  We can see socialism’s impact in the New Deal.  Later we saw it is the failed welfare state.  We can now see it in its rapidly growing popularity with the youth, long indoctrinated in Marxist ideologies throughout public education and in the universities.  Wake up kids!  Socialism isn’t cool!  Socialism stinks!

Is socialism the answer for the United States of America?  I submit not.  Our nation was founded on a healthy distrust of government.  For good reason. History teaches us that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When we deny the Judeo-Christian worldview and reject the beautiful truth that we bear God’s image, and that we are fallen sinners, in favor of socialism’s purportedly more “enlightened” view of a godless human nature, we actually end up undermining human dignity and losing freedom.  I hope that we wake up before it’s too late.

Revenge of the Nerds: Bezos Flip-Flops on Amazon’s Platform Neutrality, Banning Change Allowing Therapy Books

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Is the United States truly a free marketplace of ideas, or are we becoming a nation where dissent from popular opinion is suppressed and demonized—whether by the government or by politically powerful private enterprise?  Amazon’s deplorable decision to ban books affirming change allowing therapy for people struggling with same-sex attraction tends to affirm the latter.  I am sorry to say that we may indeed be well on our way to ideological serfdom.

In today’s hyper-digital age, mega-businesses like Google, Facebook, and Amazon can and do censor ideas and squelch free thought and expression in ways that are similarly effective as, and are comparable to, fascist government repressions of days past.  George Orwell was quite right about our future, but the existential threat is not just big government, it’s also big corporations.

Amazon’s politically correct ban occurred as the result of a British LGBT activist complaining to the distribution giant about the works of the late Catholic clinical psychologist, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who died in 2017.  Nicolosi, considered the father of reparative therapy and who had successfully counseled thousands of former homosexuals, was the author of “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality” and “Healing Homosexuality: Case Stories of Reparative Therapy.”  Of the ban of his father’s work, Nicolosi’s son stated in a released statement, “Amazon’s book ban puts radical LGBTQ ideology ahead of established science about how people leave homosexuality. It is anti-choice, anti-science, and anti-American.”  So much for the proverbial open marketplace of ideas.  That’s so, “the day before yesterday.”

Radical personal autonomy, especially regarding sexual choices, would appear to be a fundamental lynchpin of today’s progressive ideology and propaganda.  This is true, but only if one is making a sexual choice with which liberals happen to approve (i.e. blindly embracing and affirming LGBTQ ideology), not when one is making a choice with which they do not agree (i.e., learning how to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction).  What uber-liberals actually believe, but rarely publicly admit, is that the free flow of ideas and personal autonomy must now be disciplined and subjugated to serve the greater good of a sexually liberated socialist utopia, free from those purported Judeo-Christian sexually repressive restraints.  Unevolved pesky little things like Constitutions and First Amendments naturally get in their way.  They have actually become quite preachy of late, ironically becoming the new cultural fundamentalists.  They have become self-anointed sex gods.  For them, it is a “sin” to disagree with their radical sexual worldview.  Truth and morality are inverted as it has now become a “virtue” to silence any and all religiously informed views of human sexuality.

Not content with stopping at the works of Nicolosi, under pressure from the left, Amazon expanded its authoritarian commercial censorship to other books affirming that change is possible.  Within a few weeks, the works of former homosexuals were also banned.  Joe Dallas’ book Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity was removed from the platform.  Also, my friend Anne Paulk’s book — Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction, was removed.   Books by ex-gays Alan Medinger and Richard Cohen, whose stories I was honored to tell in amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme court in key marriage litigation cases, were also censored by Amazon.  Interestingly, an otherwise bright attorney told me on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 that my (very real) clients didn’t actually exist.  Now, Jeff Bezos’ mega corp. is erasing their powerful stories of authentic transformation from our public memory.

Although change allowing therapy has provided real help and hope to thousands of people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, LGBT activists intentionally disparage all change allowing therapies with the negative moniker, “conversion therapy.”  And, rather than engage in evidence-based conversations about the effectiveness of change allowing therapy, radical sexual liberty activists reactively disparage it as harmful and ineffective.  Without any evidence, Christians and others have been blamed for fostering the high LGBT suicide rates. This despicable defamatory disparagement continues in spite of the fact that aversive therapeutic methods are not used and the fact that thousands struggling with their sexual identity have successfully left the gay lifestyle behind.  Sexual activists hate the truth because the very presence of former LGBT’s exposes the propaganda of the “born gay” myth and the pernicious lie that change is not possible.  That’s not hope—that is hopelessness and despair.

So, what about the viability of the Amazon ban itself? Certainly the First Amendment doesn’t directly apply here because it is a private company—although Amazon certainly has a monopoly.  But is it the right thing for Amazon to do—to put its thumb on the scales of neutrality, deciding ideological winners and losers? I don’t think so. A misattributed Voltaire quote, famously employed by the ACLU and the free speech movement in the past is: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos seemed to be channeling Voltaire, when more than twenty years ago back in a 1998, he said, “We want to make every book available—the good, the bad and the ugly (emphasis added).”  True to his word, Bezos’ otherwise uber-tolerant platform has marketed and sold a wide variety of distasteful books, including books on Satanism, suicide, and Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  But that was then and this is now. Bezos spoke those reassuring words on the eve of the ascension of the radical sexual liberty movement—a movement with boastful totalitarian impulses to silence and obliterate all dissent—especially from those damn Christians.   A possible takeaway from this entire situation is that, at least for committed radical leftists, change allowing therapy (a.k.a. the gospel of Jesus Christ) is worse than Hitler.

I warned about the growing intolerance of the radical sexual left more than 25 years ago in a speech that I wrote titled, “The Myth of Tolerance.”  I wish I were wrong, but I predicted that those then clamoring for tolerance of their “alternative lifestyle” would wield their power quite intolerantly, once their initial cultural goals were achieved. I really wish that I had been wrong. Some are concerned that we may someday look back at this moment as a sort of historical reprisal of Kristallnacht, when the Nazi’s broke into places of worship and shops, burning disfavored literature in the streets.

As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion of NIFLA v. Becerra, “[T]he people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.” The people also lose when behemoth virtual corporate monopolies like Amazon decide which ideas should prevail. Corporate tyranny may prove to be just as detrimental to liberty as any government tyranny. We certainly don’t need business elites deciding what we can read, think, and say. And, in the glow of Amazon’s digital book burning, some are wondering what other Christian books are next, C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity?  The Bible?  Where will this literal liberal lunacy stop, no one truly knows.

So much for diversity and inclusion!  Oh well, along with tolerance, these liberal ideals were, in the end, just distracting excuses to overthrow the Judeo-Christian worldview and, with it, Western Civilization.  Tolerance, diversity, and inclusion are dead—unless we push back.

If we are to remain a free people, should Amazon remain a neutral platform in the marketplace of ideas?  Yes.  Is Amazon, as a company, now playing the part of a commercial 600-pound gorilla, displaying rank elitist politically correct anti-religious bigotry?  Yes.  Should they knock it off?  Absolutely.  Memo to Jeff Bezos (and your rich friends at Facebook and Google): a little more faux Voltaire and a little less ThoughtPolice, please.

Evangelical “leader” used as PR prop for state resolution urging pastors and churches to abandon biblical sexual ethics and denounce change allowing therapy

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Sacramento, CA—After facing growing opposition from religious organizations and leaders, California Assembly Member Low withdrew AB 2943 in 2018, which would have declared sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) consumer fraud, causing conscientious objectors to LGBT sexual orthodoxy to be targeted and punished by the state.  Now, he has replaced that failed effort with a resolution (ACR 99) seeking to pressure all Californians, including all religious institutions and religious leaders, to voluntarily embrace a statist sexual orthodoxy, regardless of their deeply held religious beliefs.  This time, however, Low is boasting about the very thin evangelical Christian support for his new resolution, specifically that of one appeasing evangelical leader.

As currently written, by a joint resolution of the Senate and Assembly, ACR 99, the government of the state of California “calls upon all Californians to embrace the individual and social benefits of family and community acceptance….”  Furthermore, “the Legislature calls upon religious leaders with conviction to counsel on LGBT matters from a place of love, compassion, and knowledge of the psychological and other harms of conversion therapy…. We call upon the people of California—especially its counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators—and the institutions of California with great moral influence—especially its churches, universities, colleges, and other schools, counseling centers, activist groups, and religious centers—to model equitable treatment of all people of the state…”  (emphasis mine)

ACR 99 is a transparent attempt to chill religious speech and silence the biblically faithful voices of our pastors.  The resolution not-so-subtly pressures religious leaders, including pastors, to disaffirm biblically orthodox viewpoints on human sexuality and replace them with pagan viewpoints.  Specifically, ACR 99 asks pastors to agree that change-allowing therapies, which the resolution defames as “conversion” therapy, are always harmful and ineffective.  Apparently for Low, pastors and churches should just get on the alleged “right side of history” here and adjust their preaching and counseling accordingly.

“Evangelical leader” Kevin Mannoia, who submitted a letter in support and testified in support of ACR 99 on June 18th in Sacramento, serves as Chaplain at Azusa Pacific University (APU) and formerly served as the President of the National Association of Evangelicals.  His letter claimed the support of “some Christian pastors,” who remain unnamed, vaguely expressing “various levels of support for ACR 99….”

During the resolution hearing, Evan Low read aloud the 2018 Op-ed. Mannoia had written in support of AB 2943, which threw change-allowing therapy under the proverbial biblical bus:

“Reparative therapy is without evidence as to its efficacy and is inconsistent with Christian living. We support Mr. Low in his opposition to practices that cause harm in people. This is contrary to the nature of the Christian message, which, while calling for change in all people to be oriented toward Christ even at great sacrifice, neither favors nor supports any practice that causes harm.”

Not surprisingly Mannoia’s employer, APU, has itself struggled with remaining biblically faithful, especially regarding issues of human sexuality, and according to many respected evangelical leaders, has, in fact, failed to remain biblically orthodox under growing cultural pressure.

Elizabeth Wonning, a former lesbian who is a leader with Equipped to Love and Changed, testified against ACR 99 implication that religion is to blame for LGBT suicides, “I take exception to the belief that religion is central to the high rates of suicide among LGBT youth.  For me, and many others, faith rescued us from suicide.  The experience of discovering you are different than most other people is traumatic and troubling whether you have faith or not.  Hopelessness causes suicide.”  Ken Williams, a pastor and former homosexual, concluded his testimony with these powerful words, asking Low to respect rights of conscience and religious freedom: “And so, assemblyman Low, I am asking you, you may have the votes to pass this, but I don’t believe that you have the right to presuppose people’s consciences, or to tell them what they need to believe.  I totally support your right, and everyone you represent, to experience whatever in life that you’d like to, I have no intention to take that away.  I just am asking that my rights, and my people group would also be respected. So I, I ask for a no vote on this resolution.”

We can all agree that aversive therapeutic methods, involving coercion or physical pain, should not be employed in the context of change-allowing therapies.  However, I submit that this is not actually a current problem.  Aversive therapeutic methods are not being employed today nor have they been widely employed for decades.   Indeed, the false accusation that change-allowing therapies are harmful and ineffective was strongly rebutted by a letter submitted and signed by dozens of therapists, attorneys, and public policy organizations, confirming that change allowing therapies are non-aversive, in that they often give people hope and result in transformative change.  Indeed, the very lives of thousands of former homosexuals and former transgender individuals tell a very different story.  Sexual identity isn’t immutable.  People can and do change.

Biblically orthodox evangelical Christians cannot affirm that all change-allowing therapies are ineffective and harmful, nor can they endorse a therapeutic ban. This is true for the following reasons:  First, it is a denial that we are created in the image of God, as male or female.  Second, it is a denial of the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change the human heart.  Third, thousands of former homosexuals and former transgendered persons have been genuinely helped by change-allowing therapies—being set free from unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.  Fourth, it would result in government coerced supression of speech, in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the further diminution of religious freedom.

Members of the Coalition for Counsel Choice repeatedly tried to warn Kevin Mannoia and other pastors about engaging with Evan Low. They specifically raised the issue that any resolution that evangelical leaders might agree upon with Assemblymember Evan Low would be a compromise of one or more of the above truths—as ACR 99 actually is.  Furthermore, they cautioned that from a public policy and legal perspective, a compromised resolution will almost certainly serve as a stepping stone toward a future outright legal ban on change-allowing therapies.   If it does, CCC members warn that history may prove that evangelical leaders will have actually been complicit in moving the cultural conversation towards an ultimate ban on change-allowing therapies with the further erosion of religious freedom—resulting in Orwellian restrictions on sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Mannoia was also specifically asked to not submit his vague and confusing “support” letter for ACR 99.  He did not listen.

Immediately after the resolution hearing, Evan Low was quick to take a victory lap, touting Kevin Mannoia as a PR prop by posting a glossy photo of himself and Kevin on Facebook, tagging all his radical friends at Equality California, the Trevor Project, the National Center for Lesbian rights and the Human Rights Campaign,  “@Kmannoia, Former President of the National Association of Evangelicals & Chaplain at @azusapacific, speak in support of #ACR99, to reaffirm our values of love and dignity while also acknowledging the harmful practice of #ConversionTherapy @TrevorProject @eqca @NCLRights @HRC”

Unfortunately, this unorthodox and aberrant behavior by one of our purported evangelical “leaders” highlights the dangers of the strategy of appeasing the enemies of the gospel and freedom in Christ.  It never ends well.  Tragically, too many Christians leaders today fear people and worship the culture, rather than fearing God and worshipping Christ. But this isn’t Christian leadership, it’s cultural surrender. To shamefully join forces with the enemies of Christ, to defame all change-allowing therapy, and to surrender to the idea that people can’t change is to surrender to the satanic lie that the Gospel has no actual transformative power.  For biblically orthodox evangelicals, that is heresy.

Christians can certainly all agree that everyone, including those struggling with same-sex attraction or gender identity should be treated with love, dignity, compassion, and respect.  Everyone deserves this, precisely because they are created in the image of God.  However, in a free society, this can and should be done without the government attempting to tell churches and pastors how they should counsel or what they should preach.  Christians, who desire to remain free, must always oppose the annexation of the church by the state.  We don’t want to have to relearn the painful and difficult lessons of the appeasing German Lutheran church of the 1930’s and 40s.

Christians ought to be concerned—very concerned—and must remain vigilant against the dark impulses of statist domination. Let’s be clear: our enemies want to silence us and thereby kill the gospel message. California, over the past five years, has been churning out a series of bad legislation targeting religious freedom and the freedom of speech, often in the name of LGBT rights (See i.e. AB 775, SB 1146, AB 1888, AB 569, AB 2943).  And History confirms that non-binding resolutions like ACR 99 often proceed more coercive, restrictive, and freedom-robbing legislation. That is why the NCLP submitted a powerful separate legal opinion memorandum explaining how ACR 99, if enacted, will chill speech and suppress religious beliefs and practices, in violation of the protections of the First Amendment.

The gospel is not fraud, consumer or otherwise.  It has the power to transform us, including our sexual desires.  Although deceptively camouflaged in the language of love and compassion, ACR 99 is a naked attempt by the government to establish progressive sexual orthodoxy and dis-establish (and destroy) religious sexual ethics. Although not binding, this resolution, if adopted, will chill the speech of pastors, churches, and Christians who are already concerned and fearful about government infringements, especially related to LGBT issues.  We can’t afford to have our voices censored and silenced by the state.  Truth is at stake.  The Gospel is at stake.

An Open Letter to Pastors

 

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Anytown, USA–Do you really believe in the power of God to transform people at the deepest level? I do! This dynamic force for good is confirmed both by the Scriptures and experience. But now that California is in the process of declaring the hope of the gospel as “fraud” and defaming the proclamation of biblical truth as an “unlawful business practice” in the Golden State, what will you do? If you are not already aware of AB 2943, a law seeking to outlaw dissent from statist sexual orthodoxy, and which poses an existential threat to religious freedom, please read this article.

We are in a Bonhoeffer moment. A Bonhoeffer moment is a time when the political and cultural pressures are so intoxicatingly powerful and intense that the church is tempted to deny her faithful biblical witness and compromise in some significant way. In Germany, a church that could have and should have confronted Hitler, chose the easier path of passivity and appeasement. Under great duress from the Nazi party, most of the evangelical church became compromised and pressed into the service of the Reich. The courageous and faithful Confessing Church was more sparsely populated by a few hundred faithful pastors, among them Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Today, the church is confronted by similar totalitarian cultural pressure points. This time it is in the form of a flurry of court rulings, state laws, and popular cultural indoctrination. The goal is to seek to defy moral gravity (i.e. reality) in the form of a brazen sexual declaration of independence—declaring evil good and good evil—radically redefining marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity. After redefining marriage in 2015, elitist pagan social engineers now want to destroy and replace the gender binary—the truth that we are all created male and female in the image of God. Consequently, I believe we now face the greatest threat to religious freedom in the history of our nation. It is as if the culture is holding a gun to our heads attempting to force us to acknowledge and celebrate as positive moral “goods” same-sex marriage, gender dysphoria, and the related transformative corruptive indoctrination of our children in public schools.

We are not alone in history. The early church faced a similar moment. Then, powerful cultural and religious leaders, desiring to silence the witness of the church and suppress the truth, ordered Peter and John to not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Without hesitating, they replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have heard” (Acts 4: 13-21). After being imprisoned for disobeying (and a miraculous release) they were hauled again before the leaders and chastised for continuing to preach the gospel. Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men.” The leaders wanted to kill them, but decided to let them off with a good beating. The result? They left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” and “every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:17-42).

God has not changed. Truth has not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Yet, tragically today, similarly to the unfaithful German evangelical church, far too many timid and fearful evangelical pastors have not handled the cultural pressures very well. As a result, the full counsel of God is not always preached and the gospel is watered down. New Age beliefs and practices are replacing biblical truth from the pulpit. Compromise, capitulation, and assimilation are certainly not the answers. Yet, even before laws like AB 2943 are restraining us, many pastors already are self-censoring and withholding truth. This is not loving—it is profoundly unloving. Important truths like sin, repentance, discipleship, purity, and obedience (denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, and following Him) are often forgotten and are replaced by an unbiblical gospel of cheap grace and a wimpy passive faith. This is how truth dies, this is how the light is hidden, this is how salt loses its savor.

Yet, some faithful godly California Pastors like Manuel Gonzales are not backing down in the face of California’s Orwellian AB 2943. Pastor Gonzales recently declared, “I am committed to preach the gospel, and no one is going to tell me that I cannot.” My friend, San Diego Pastor Chris Clark, recently declared that he had notified his state representatives that he will not be complying with the law, if passed, “I am giving them my name, my church’s name and address, and making it clear that AB 2943 will be an unjust law and therefore I am compelled to violate it.” For more on Principled Christian Civil Disobedience, please read this article.

Having been actively involved in the fierce epic battle between religious liberty and sexual liberty for the past 25 years, I can assure you that the goal of the opposition is not inclusion, diversity and tolerance—not even close! The goal of radicals within the activist LGBT movement is to suppress and silence the proclamation of truth by the church—the gospel. Among the messages they want to suppress are: God created us male and female, sin is the problem, repentance is necessary, forgiveness is available in Jesus Christ, and that the gospel has the power to transform disordered sexuality. If you are unapologetically preaching the truth, there is or will soon be a target on you and a target on your pulpit. If you don’t have a target on you at this point, it may mean that you are not being biblically faithful. We will all stand before God and give an account for our lives.

So, what can a pastor do? First, fear God rather than men. Find your spiritual backbone, get back to the Bible, and preach the full counsel of God from the pulpit. If you are self-censoring your sermons because of cultural pressure and the fear of the opinions of people: please repent and knock it off. Allow your love to overcome your fear, remembering that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16). Your church needs a courageous shepherd who clearly and unapologetically speaks the truth and will help protect the saints from the wolves and darkness surrounding us now. Second, pray for a new reformation, a great awakening of a church that is now, sadly, in many respects culturally withdrawn, spiritually asleep, and increasingly silent. Third, actively engage (be salt and light) by speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and encourage your congregation to engage and oppose evil laws like AB 2943 that threaten the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As Pastor Chris Clark recently stated, responding to AB 2943, “Time to be a Bonhoeffer.” Yes, pastors, we desperately need more Dietrich Bonhoeffers, Chris Clarks and Manuel Gonzales. I am not asking you to be political, I am asking you to be biblical. Now is the time that we must boldly and courageously stand up for truth, stop capitulating to the culture, and allow your love for God and people to overcome your fear. People are desperate for biblical leadership and for the truth. Silence is not an option. We must obey God rather than men!

Hippies Turn against Free Speech

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Do you remember the good old days, when liberals believed in the freedom of speech? The University of California Berkeley is arguably the birthplace of the free speech movement. Indeed, beginning in 1960’s UC Berkeley was one of the epicenters of powerful counter cultural movements that spawned the hippies and a radical commitment to question, protest and overthrow existing authority structures with a robust commitment to the freedom of speech. The ACLU and other free speech advocates often took to quoting Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Now, Berkeley has ironically become one of the centers of free speech suppression.

What a difference a few decades make! Now that some of the very same individuals who were leading protests in the 60’s and 70’s have matriculated, and have grown up to teach and lead institutions of higher education, many have decidedly turned against the First Amendment’s promise of the freedom of expression. Now that the liberal elites control these institutions, they seek to abuse their power by aggressively turning against all free thought and speech that would dare question now-entrenched leftist orthodoxies or undermine their ability to seamlessly indoctrinate the next generation with collectivist leftist group-think. There are now two classes of speech on most American college campuses: politically correct liberal speech, which is allowed, and politically incorrect conservative speech, which is not.

The clear message to everyone paying attention is that academic elites will only permit ideas and speech with which they agree, but will target for eradication ideas and speech with which they personally disagree. The dominant target for thought and speech suppression on college campuses today is all things conservative, especially ideas informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview. Completion of their radical decades-long revolution apparently means they now must actively suppress, punish, and silence thoughts and words that do not perfectly align with the now institutionally entrenched leftist worldview.  But if the freedom of speech means anything, it certainly does not mean that some speech is more “free” than others or that the state can support speech it likes and obliterate speech it doesn’t.

This decidedly dark Orwellian trend was highlighted recently when Milo Yiannopoulos, a very controversial Trump supporter and an openly gay member of the right, was invited by the campus Republican Club to speak and UC Berkeley.  More than 100 “tolerant” faculty members referring to Milo’s presentations as “harassment, slander, defamation, and hate speech” signed a letter demanding that the University cancel the event. Protestors clad in black clothing and masks smashed windows, set fires, and pepper-sprayed a young female Trump supporter in the face, while carrying posters and signs claiming, quite ironically, that Milo is a “fascist.” Rather than protecting Milo and his speech, UC Berkeley officials and police folded like a cheap suit, allowing the protesters to prevail in their “heckler’s veto” by canceling Milo’s talk. Unfortunately, Berkeley is not alone. Ben Shapiro’s event at UCLA faced similar opposition recently. But, as Yale Law Professor Jose Cabranas pointed out in the Washington Post, “No one can doubt that we should strive for civility. But problems arise when we are told that “uncivil” speech has made a campus “unsafe” — and that university officials should make a campus safe again by punishing uncivil speakers.”

As George Orwell wrote, “If freedom means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Yet, today in our universities, once the bastions of the freedom of thought and expression, the Freedom of Speech is being destroyed, sacrificed on the false altars of “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” “hate speech” and all other forms of mind-numbing snow-flakery. Academic freedom increasingly means liberty only for liberals. Conservatives need not apply or should at least remain silent.

This is no small matter. Our very freedom and the continuation of our republic are at stake. As a conservative constitutional attorney, I do not always agree with former Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. However, I must wholeheartedly agree with Warren’s prediction about the republic-ending threat of political correctness when he wrote that either “teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and evaluate,” or “our civilization will stagnate and die.” (Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957”)).  Benjamin Franklin agreed that the “freedom of speech is a principal pillar of government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected in its ruins.”

Yes, the freedom of speech includes religious speech. But in this hostile environment, many believers have stopped talking about God and sharing the gospel. Why? Fear of man—fear of retribution. Yet, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so elegantly wrote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” George Washington warned, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Although liberals have lost their love of free speech, we must be different – if not for ourselves, for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Let us this day, as free Americans, commit to steadfastly oppose every authority, government, or other influence, that seeks to suppress, destroy, or silence the freedom of speech. Long live the freedom of speech!