It’s sad to say, but freedom has been relegated to “flavor of the month” status for years now. Not freedom as our Founding Fathers thought it, but freedom as same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization mistakenly think of it.
In other words, it’s not an ordered freedom based on the sound footing of natural law, but an abstract freedom based on the whims and desires of fickle men and women who have concurred with the maxim that “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Goodbye to universal ethics and enduring norms, hello to whatever makes us happy in this moment. This is freedom in the 21st century.
But changing something so near to the heart of our culture doesn’t come without a price. And one of the obvious prices is that this new brand of freedom is only extended to those who meet the criteria for it. That is, it only goes to those who share the opinions of same-sex couples, pro-abortion activists, and those disillusioned with Western Civilization. Others not need apply.
What this also means is that an olive branch is extended to certain faiths – those viewed as “tolerant” – and withheld from others. As a result, Christianity and Orthodox Judaism are not being handed any olive branches, and more times than not, they are actually being shown the door.
Therefore, throughout our Western Civilization, there is a freedom a gap. Both in Europe and here in the U.S., Christians and Orthodox Jews are denied the right to exercise their faith and traditions in ways that other faiths and traditions enjoy.
In Europe, for example, Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, claims Christians of “deep faith” face discrimination. (By “deep faith,” he is referencing those who make their faith evident, rather than keeping it a private matter.) He reached this conclusion from watching how people of faith in Europe are penalized “for activities such as wearing crosses and offering to pray for other people.”
And reports from Britain’s BBC validate Lord Carey’s evaluation of Europe’s attitudes toward Christians in the 21st century. The BBC does this by providing examples such as Gary McFarlane, a Christian marriage guidance counselor from Bristol, who “lost a court bid earlier this year to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexuals,” and Lydia Playfoot, a 19-year-old student who was “told by her school three years ago to remove her purity ring - symbolizing chastity - or face expulsion.”
Sadly, for Christians in America, these examples aren’t hard to believe because the incremental secularization of our culture has led to the same kinds of discrimination and beyond. From high school and collegiate textbooks that ridicule or try to expunge our historically Judeo-Christian roots, to shameless lawsuits against the public display of symbols identifiable with Christianity, to the hampering of the religious speech of public officials, and of course, the ongoing governmental limitations on the First Amendment protected rights of pastors in the pulpit, Christians (and Christianity) are forced to fight for the freedom so many others readily enjoy.
For years, this freedom gap has been witnessed in our government schools, where “Easter Eggs” are renamed “Spring Spheres” and even a student-led “Easter Can Drive” is renamed a “Spring Can Drive.” And while many have treated these efforts to rename holidays as innocuous, over time it’s becoming clear that there is in fact an undercurrent working against Christians in our culture.
Freedom is more than “just another word for nothing left to lose.” It is an ordered framework of liberty for which our Founders risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. As such, it should be extended to people of every race and tribe, and of every faith and tradition.
This applies to those who value the Judeo-Christian tradition as much as it applies to anyone else.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.