A major cultural change is taking place right before our eyes. Christianity—long a traditional and accepted part of society—is increasingly being silenced by governments, courts, businesses and technology. What does this mean? Where is it headed?
In the streets of Jerusalem, the apostles Peter and John experienced great success in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. Following the spectacular response on the Day of Pentecost, when some 3,000 had been converted, God had opened the minds of hundreds of others to the gospel message. Before long the Church at Jerusalem numbered in the thousands (Acts 2:41, 47; 4:1).
The Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish judicial council, took notice of the apostles’ success. Largely composed of Sadducees, a priestly sect who controlled the Jerusalem temple, they viewed the growing power and influence of Jesus Christ’s message as a threat. Peter and the other apostles had to be stopped.
An occasion to arrest Peter and John presented itself when they miraculously healed a man who was lame from birth (Acts 3). With the temple guard to provide muscle, the Sanhedrin leaders swept in and seized the two apostles (Acts 4:1-6).
“By what power or what name did you do this?” they demanded of Peter and John (verse 7, New International Version). Peter answered them, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed” (verse 10, NIV).
The Sanhedrin could not deny that many had witnessed the healing. This was no fluke. So in what was in essence an early case of attempted cancel culture, the Sanhedrin put a gag order on the apostles, ordering them to cease preaching in the name of Christ. But Peter boldly responded: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:17, NIV 1984, emphasis added throughout). They refused to be canceled!
Today in America we see cancel culture everywhere, but no one is more targeted than religious Americans, especially Christians. Traditional morals, ethics and values are under assault. Those who hold the Judeo-Christian values that were common for the first 200 years of the nation’s existence now find themselves mocked, belittled and attacked if they dare to express or stand up for their views.
As the influence of atheistic, secular humanist culture grows, it strives to obliterate references to God and Christianity in the workplace, on social media, in the classroom, in government and in mainstream media. And when God and Christianity are mentioned in these venues, it’s often in a hateful, disparaging way.
Traditional values banned as Christian belief declines
Despite being founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic, religious influence in America has steadily waned, as shown by the most recent statistics from the Public Religion Research Institute.
Its survey showed that the proportion of white Americans identifying as evangelicals dropped from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent in 2020. White Catholics dropped from 16 percent to 11.7 percent. During the same time, the percentage of respondents of all ethnicities not affiliated with any religion increased from 16 percent to nearly 24 percent.
This has gone hand-in-hand with assaults on traditional values. Anti-God secularists have conducted a decades-long war on Christianity with the goal of expunging it from American life.
Classroom prayer, for example, was common in American public schools for the first nearly two centuries of the nation’s history. But in a complete corruption of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that the practice violated the First Amendment—in spite of the amendment’s plain wording that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”
Free exercise of religion in schools was banned overnight. The following year the Supreme Court banned Bibles from schools. These two rulings have been used to suppress the free exercise of religion in the United States ever since.
Vile practices legalized and normalized
God is the Creator of life. All life is precious to Him, and that includes the life of unborn children. Yet just 10 years later the court declared that American women had a “constitutional right” to abort the tiny lives growing within them—despite not seeing such a right in the Constitution in the nearly 200 years before. Some 60 million unborn babies have been murdered in America since then—a number greater than the population of most countries.
Now gender roles are seen as “culturally defined,” ignoring obvious biological differences. Don’t want to identify as male or female? No problem, says Facebook, which since 2014 has offered 56 ways to self-identify in terms of one’s sex, including agender (no gender at all), transgender (gender identity opposite from biological gender), MTF (transitioning from male to female) and pangender (being all genders simultaneously).
Not to be outdone, Apple has introduced a new emoji for its phones—a pregnant man. And the rest of us are expected to accept such absurdities as normal and true.
Free speech: an antiquated notion
America has come to the point where only one set of beliefs, one worldview, is allowed by those who control the levers of power, with any divergence from that censured and banned. Whatever happened to free speech, to the right to express a wide variety of views?
America’s Founding Fathers viewed freedom of speech as a basic right. Our rights, the signers of the Declaration of Independence understood, came not from government but from our Creator.
When many of those same men later came together to frame the U.S. Constitution, they took the additional step of securing people’s rights in a series of amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech, religion and the press. For more than two centuries these freedoms have allowed Americans to speak out on virtually any issue. Government for the most part protected these rights, even on highly controversial or unpopular positions.
But over the past decade, respect for these rights has quickly eroded. Freedom of expression has given way to a new orthodoxy. What started out as “politically correct” attitudes in the 1990s have now morphed into broad requirement, with heavy societal pressure, to express only what liberal-progressive “thought police” permit. With breathtaking speed, this new “woke” culture has vilified and in some cases even criminalized free speech in America.
Social media a driving force for censorship
Historically, the American media has championed freedom of speech and the press. But evidence is mounting that the media establishment now actually wants to limit free speech. Religious and conservative people increasingly find their views censored and canceled.
More than two-thirds of all Americans use social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and others—to stay connected to friends, family, coworkers and others. But as we have seen these platforms grow in popularity, we have also seen them grow in power. And these platforms have clearly stepped over the line into censorship and manipulation of political and cultural thought.
They and their corporate leaders especially dislike religious and conservative expression.
Facebook employs a small army of “content monitors,” whose job is to filter out religious or conservative content. Their guidelines on hate speech explicitly condemn speech that might offend anyone based on sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. But those guidelines have been used to cancel speech that expresses religious, traditional or conservative views.
It isn’t hard to understand the bias of these tech giants. They largely reflect the attitudes and practices of the far-left “woke” culture. They apply those biases as the new arbiters of information, controlling what information gets disseminated and what gets canceled.
Their power in this regard is breathtaking. Twitter banned then-President Donald Trump after he raised allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Twitter, Facebook and Google-owned YouTube have been proven to routinely block and delete conservative or religious content. While their guidelines claim fairness to all groups and prohibit obvious hate speech, religious and conservative groups have reported deletion of their posts, and others have reported their posts as “shadow banned”—deliberately hidden from most public viewing.
Major Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Bing have been accused of manipulating results to deprioritize and hide conservative and religious content and news unfavorable to liberal causes and politicians—conveniently labeled “misinformation."
How did it get this bad?
There is growing awareness that the progressive left has for a long time been waging a war on God, Christianity and biblical morality. But why does it seem that the war has intensified in recent years?
While the leftist cause to bring a secular humanist form of salvation to an evil, unjust world has been ongoing for nearly 200 years, its efforts to drive God out of American life shifted into overdrive relatively recently with the radical “free speech” movement of the 1960s.
Author David Horowitz was himself a student radical during the 1960s who became a conservative in the early 1980s after he became disgusted with the evils of the left. In Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, Horowitz shows how the left mocks Christians for prayer and belief in God. He shows the depth of hatred Marxists have towards Christianity.
Referring to the millions of Christians murdered in totalitarian regimes in the 20th century, Horowitz writes: “Radicals in America today don’t have the political power to execute people and destroy their houses of worship. Yet they openly declare their desire to obliterate religion. In their own minds, their intentions are noble—they want to save the human race from the social injustice and oppression that religion allegedly inflicts on humanity” (2018, p. 4).
In other words, the left sees those who believe in biblical values as ignorant, superstitious people who need to be reeducated—or eliminated if they can’t be reformed—to save the world.
Growing government persecution of Christianity
In recent years Australia, Canada, Great Britain and other Western nations have passed “hate speech” laws that prohibit teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality, transgenderism and false religion. As a result, pastors and others speaking out on morality have been fined and jailed for simply quoting what the Bible says. Similar laws have been pushed in the United States but so far have been blocked—yet that might not always be the case.
During his 2008 campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama openly ridiculed several biblical laws. In an unguarded moment at a San Francisco fundraiser with wealthy donors, he revealed his personal contempt for small-town religious Americans: “They get bitter, they cling to their guns or religion or antipathy to people who are not like them . . . as a way to explain their frustrations.”
When, as president, he managed to get his Obamacare legislation passed, he took aim at religious organizations that opposed the law’s mandates to provide contraceptives and even abortion-inducing drugs. A Catholic order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, opposed these requirements.
Obama vindictively retaliated with all the power of the federal government, forcing the Little Sisters to undertake years of costly legal battles. This went on until in 2016 the Supreme Court ruled, in a rare unanimous vote, in favor of the Little Sisters and their First Amendment rights.
National, state and local governments of major Western countries used the recent Covid pandemic to openly discriminate against and persecute churches. Regulations shut down or tightly restricted what churches were able to do while allowing other businesses, including bars, liquor stores and marijuana shops, to stay open. Some churches successfully sued over such blatant discrimination, only then being allowed to reopen.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military denied 99.9 percent of approximately 16,000 requests for religious exemptions for mandated Covid vaccines and is in the process of expelling thousands of valuable trained personnel.
At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly refused to hear appeals on Covid vaccine mandates from individuals and groups arguing that being forced to take vaccines they saw as potentially harmful, many of which were developed using aborted fetal cells, violated their religious beliefs and convictions. Millions of Americans were forced to violate their conscience or lose their jobs.
Enduring the dominion of the demonic
What is all of this leading to? Is there an endgame in play in which canceling God from the public arena is a major step? Revelation 13 describes an emerging worldwide governmental system called “the beast” that arises with control over much of humanity. That system will wage war against those who follow God’s Word, while gaining the admiration of most of the world.
The Beast is the term used for both the evil political empire and its tremendously powerful leader operating under the influence of “the dragon,” identified as Satan. “The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority” (verse 2, NIV).
The prophecy also shows the Beast aligning with a false religious system masquerading as Christian. This coalition goes on to “wage war against God’s holy people,” with the world at large submitting to its rule, so that “all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast” (verses 7-8, NIV).
Already, cancel culture’s war on biblical morality has done much to turn nations toward that darker path. Your Bible indicates this situation will only get worse. Individuals cannot change this, yet there is hope and purpose for each person who commits to resisting Satan’s grip on society and on his or her own life. Stand for God and His ways!