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OPINION

FIRST-PERSON: We dare not chicken out

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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NEW YORK (BP) -- If you're even a semi-regular BreakPoint listener, you've no doubt heard Chuck Colson -- and me -- talk about "breaking the spiral of silence."

We've warned about the dangers of remaining silent on critical issues even when our opinions are unpopular or counter-cultural -- probably especially when they're unpopular and counter-cultural. Even when it appears that the argument is "settled," that the public has "moved on," and we'd better "get with the program."

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And we've pointed out that, sometimes, breaking the spiral of silence can come with a price.

Well, as you know by now, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said recently that his family-owned company "operates on biblical principles" and therefore "supports the traditional family."

He spoke out, and now he and Chick-fil-A are paying the price. Certain voices in the media and government are lashing out -- and seeking, basically, to intimidate and bully Chick-fil-A, and anyone who shares their views, back into silence.

For example, an alderman in Chicago is seeking to block Chick-fil-A from opening an already planned restaurant in the city. He has declared that Chick-fil-A's position is "bigoted" and "homophobic" and that the company discriminates against homosexuals, which is just a crazy, baseless charge.

The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, at first backed the alderman, and he told CBS Chicago, "Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago values ... And if you're going to be a part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values."

Really? So, all you Chicago churches and mosques and synagogues that do not share the mayor's interpretation of "Chicago values" had better pack up and leave town.

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The bottom line is that if you dare say you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman only, you run the real risk of being called a "homophobe," a "bigot" and a "hatemonger." If you own a business and take such a stand, you may be targeted.

But my question to you now -- and to myself -- is: So what?

Do we or do we not have the courage of our convictions to defend marriage, to defend free speech, to defend freedom of religion? Do our freedoms, does our faith, matter to us more than the opinion of some others? Will we allow our reputations and our profits to suffer before we will allow our freedoms to erode?

Chuck warned us long ago that a free society can remain free only so long as dissent is tolerated, only so long as opinions and ideas can be debated freely in the public square.

Which is why, as Chuck would have said, the proponents of so-called gay "marriage" and sexual "freedom" are sawing off the branch they're sitting on. By doing all they can to deny those who disagree with them access to the public square, by their intimidation tactics, and by their -- sad to say, intolerance -- they are helping to make this country, this society less free. And that hurts everybody.

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Folks, we have no choice but to speak out. Not to lash out, but to speak out, winsomely but firmly. We must break the spiral of silence.

Eric Metaxas is an author and the voice of the Breakpoint radio commentaries. Reprinted from BreakPoint, July 27, 2012, with permission of Prison Fellowship, www.breakpoint.org. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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