There is something about the name Jesus Christ that drives the non-believer mad. Any reference to the name (or to a quotation) of Jesus arouses in the non-believer a dissonance that cannot be aroused by any other source. I thought about that dissonance – a feeling I used to experience regularly - when I received a call from a distressed co-worker who, unlike me, does not have the benefit of tenure.
That untenured co-worker was distressed because his supervisor had told him that some people were offended by the use of Bible verses in emails sent using the university email system. The university system had been altered to include a function that allowed people to add a personal signature. That signature appears automatically at the bottom of every email they send. Some employees had chosen to add a Bible verse below their name and to save it using the signature function.
The problem, according to the employee who contacted me, was not that some people were offended by the Bible verses. The problem was that there was a proposed ban, which was, according to his understanding, to apply only to Bible verses. This was surely done to preserve the so-called “wall of separation” between of church and state.
This “wall” is mentioned nowhere in our Constitution and is generally used as a device to impede the free exercise of religion, which is mentioned in our Constitution. This notion has been used to ban references to Christmas from my campus. It has also been used to remove the phrase “Good Friday” from the university calendar.
I took special interest in the email signature issue because I have seen a good number of emails with personalized signatures, including, but not limited to, the following:
*Quotations of Confucius
*Quotations of Nietzsche
*Gay Pride Rainbow Flags
The five signature examples listed above have at least two things in common: 1) They are all potentially offensive to someone. 2) They are all examples of constitutionally protected free speech.
I am personally offended by the gay rainbow flag. The rainbow is, to me, an Old Testament religious symbol. It represents a solemn promise from God to His people. It should not be used as a symbol of pride for a lifestyle that is proscribed by the Old Testament. Nonetheless, I would fight for any homosexual or homosexual activist if his, her, or its right to use this symbol in personal emails was under attack from a fundamentalist Christian.
Of course, offensive speech by homosexuals and homosexual activists is never under attack at the postmodern liberal university. But Christian speech is. And too few Christians are both aware of what is happening and courageous enough to do something about it.
Recently, a Christian friend of mine said that Bible verses should not be allowed at all in our public university emails because they might be “offensive” to someone. But this is a weak and indefensible position.
Once the university has opened a forum and it has resulted in claims of personal “discomfort” there are only two reasonable responses: 1) The university can remain completely viewpoint neutral in any ensuing controversy. 2) They can shut down the forum entirely.
The middle position of banning only particular forms of religious and political expression is simply unacceptable. It is both legally and morally indefensible.
I waited entirely too long to respond to the report of a possible ban on Bible verses – and only Bible verses – in the university email system. But, when I did, my response involved two steps: 1) I added a signature line saying “Mike Adams, Jn316.” 2) I made certain that I sent emails to UNC administrators who had demonstrated a desire to ban all forms of forms of Christian expression at the university.
During a recent email exchange over a matter of official university business one of our lower-level administrators responded to my “Jn316” signature. She did so by changing hers to read “John, Paul, George, and Ringo.”
By taking the time to alter her signature just for me, this administrator demonstrated two things: 1) The amount of cattiness in a given department is directly correlated with the number of feminists it employs. 2) As stated previously, any reference to the name (or to a quotation) of Jesus arouses in the non-believer a dissonance that cannot be aroused by any other source.
Jesus arouses in the non-believer an unmatched dissonance because He spent his life pushing people’s buttons and questioning the status quo. He did not suffer fools lightly and had nothing resembling tolerance for Pharisaic hypocrisy. Were He walking the Earth today, He would likely reserve his harshest judgment for the hypocritical university liberal.
Jesus did not die on a cross in order to for us to live a life a comfort. His death obligates us to push people’s buttons as He would do were He walking the Earth today. We are not to do so despite the fact that it makes people feel uncomfortable. We are to do so because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
We must never miss an opportunity to cause discomfort among those who wish to ban the Name entirely. What better way to lead them down the road towards Damascus?