While I was playing UNO with my 3-year-old yesterday, we had the White House press conference playing on the computer in the background. I was mostly interested in hearing what was being said about the issue of the flamboyant man in Florida who was planning to burn a particular religious book on public display, an activity that has received world-wide attention.
As I listened to the reporters ask their questions, I got the eerie feeling that we (the USA) might be headed towards a communist state, at the urging of our own people. You think I'm exaggerating? I heard suggestions that book burning (this particular book) could be considered a "hate crime," which could be determined to be illegal. There were also suggestions that the leader could be "detained indefinitely," basically until they determine what particular laws (that they haven’t come up with yet) has this man actually broken. And there was plenty of talk about various "commanders" and "the Commander in Chief" as people were grappling to figure out who has authority to tell this man what (or what not) to do.
I seriously got the sense that the people asking the questions were trying to help the White House figure out a way to get rid of this man, and make it appear to be legal. And the best things they could come up with were to either dismiss the Constitution, particularly the part ensuring our freedom of religion and freedom of speech, or lock the kook up under phony charges just to keep the peace. The next thing I expect to hear in the “brainstorm” of ideas might require all religious groups to be monitored by some branch of bureaucracy or military, and perhaps forced to take courses in diversity and tolerance and sign statements that denounce their exclusive and narrow-minded beliefs.
I don't consider myself to be particularly outspoken in political matters. But as a Christian, I should be particularly outspoken about religious matters, to some degree. And part of my time spent thinking about this issue had me imagining what would happen if that man went forward with his plan. And it's not a pretty thought, but one worth considering. The world is rapidly changing, as are public opinions. What actions, reactions, events and public pressures could we be facing sooner than we think? It's probably only a matter of time before another fool tries to one-up this one and another opportunity to preach the gospel presents itself.
I don't think American Christians should roll over and surrender their liberties, but we are generally pretty blind to the fact that they have been protected/given to us through the Constitution, and that document will not endure through eternity, nor does it have supreme authority over Christians. And let’s not forget that a large portion of the world's Christians exist/survive without such liberty. We may need to learn from them how to live for the glory of God while being oppressed, because it could be just around the corner. Better yet, we can learn from the early church and how they endured the persecution that came after Christ’s resurrection, by studying it in the Bible.
So Christians, prepare your "official statement." What is the 15-minute version, the 2-minute version, and the bumper-sticker version of the message you are commanded to preach? Why do you preach it? And Who is your commander? Are you prepared to preach it to the world, and suffer for it?