At the beginning of each year on The Meeting House program on Faith Radio, I trace some of the top stories impacting the Christian community during the previous year, integrating comments from a variety of guests on the program. As I presented the previous year’s topics, I noticed that there were some common threads among the topic areas.
One of those had to do with what has come to be known as “cancel culture.” Specifically applied to Christians, there were instances in which people who acted or spoke according to their deeply held convictions, consistent with Scripture, found themselves ostracized and perhaps facing disciplinary action.
Take, for instance, the case of The Daily Citizen, a news-oriented website of Focus on the Family. A tweet published on Twitter resulted in its feed being suspended for pointing out that a biological male who identifies as female was being considered for a particular high-level position.
In other news related to this topic: An Ohio university professor who had been suspended for declining to call a biological male student by his preferred, gender-identity-based, pronoun, received a positive court ruling. There was also the instance of a Virginia high school teacher who was suspended, then reinstated, for speaking out at a school board meeting about a proposed policy to force teachers to call students by their “gender identity” pronouns.
During 2021, school board meetings became events in which parents, whose children had been learning at home during the pandemic, had discovered they were not in agreement with what was being taught and began to speak out. This involved instances where ideas inconsistent with Scripture were part of school curricula.
Parents spoke out about inappropriate, even pornographic, material being covered. And, they objected about “critical race theory,” which has been characterized as an unbiblical attempt to address racial issues, which has resulted in dividing people based on racial generalizations.
Parents are given the responsibility in the Scriptures for their children’s education and Christian parents certainly have the right to be involved in challenging what their children are being taught in school.
Cultural Marxism, which takes different forms, is a worldview perspective that divides people along the lines of components such as race, sexual orientation, class, and economics. We cannot be a unified country (or Church) as long as these types of divisions are present.
Religious freedom continues to be an area in which there is tension.
Summit.org released a survey that found “73 percent of American voters who have an opinion about the issue say that they agree with America’s founders that our rights are given to us by our Creator and not by the government.” Also, “75 percent of American voters say the government does not have the right to force people to participate in practices that violate their religious beliefs.”
Colorado cake baker Jack Phillips continues to have his religious freedom rights violated – even after winning a U.S. Supreme Court victory in a case involving his declining to provide a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. Around the time that ruling was announced, he was challenged again, and, at the end of the year, he was still seeking justice in the courts.
Fortunately, there was another victory at the high court, when a Philadelphia adoption and foster care agency, which had been banned from operating in the city because it would not place children in foster homes headed by same-sex couples, received a favorable ruling.
The area of religious freedom also became relevant in the area of COVID. Some churches who had ceased to meet at the beginning of the pandemic had been opening back up again throughout 2020, and the year 2021 marked a turning point. Some churches had endured a number of restrictions that had been placed upon them by health officials in states and localities. The U.S. Supreme Court became involved in this area, as well, allowing churches to meet indoors (with limited capacity).
There is also another issue in which Christians have become involved, and that is the attempt by authorities to force people to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Many regard that choice as a decision based on personal conscience, and that a government does not have the constitutional right to override that decision. People who have applied for and denied religious exemptions from having to forcibly take the shot have found themselves in a position of possibly losing their jobs for non-compliance.
In addition to the physical health concerns, the mental health ramifications of the COVID pandemic continue to unfold, and it is important that the Church stands ready to minister to those who suffer. We should pray regarding the coronavirus and our response to it, as well as seek the Lord about how we can respond to negative, unbiblical trends that have infected our culture.