I’ve been blogging about Freedom of Speech on and off for over 10 years and have watched it slowly but surely be eroded away. The pace of that erosion seems to be quickening. David has asked that we might share this post of his. So that’s what I’m going to do. This is an important article. Please read and share.
I read this some while ago now at the recommendation of a friend (Thanks Nick!). Having checked the revisions, I first started writing this over a year ago. I’m staggered at how things have moved!
The author, Mick Hulme is an atheist but the subject of Free Speech is something that should unite both Atheist and Christian alike and this book does that. It’s been in my ‘Draft’ folder for a while but the book’s relevance continues. Indeed, the book seems to have more relevance each week. There’s so much to quote you might as well go and buy it. The following extracts will suffice for now. Note especially this line: ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit‘. So talking and talking back. Sounds very much like a conversation – even a heated conversation.
‘If it is to mean anything, free speech has to live up to its name. This is the hardest thing for many who claim to endorse the principle to remember in practice. It means that what others say or write need not conform to what you, I, or anybody else might prefer.
Here is the terrible truth about free speech. Anybody can choose to write, blog, tweet, chant, preach, phone a radio program or shout at a television set. Not all of them will have the purity of soul of Jesus Christ or Joan Rivers, the wisdom of Socrates or Simon Cowell, or the good manners of Prince Harry or Piers Morgan. That’s tough. They still get the same access to free speech as the rest of us, whether we like it or not.
Defending the unfettered Free in free speech is not a question of endorsing whatever objectionable or idiotic things might be written or said. Nobody had to find Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons insightful or hilarious in order to stand by its right to publish them. Nor is it a question of being soft and suffering in silence. Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.
The Free in free speech does mean recognising that free speech is for fools, fanatics and the other fellow too. Like all true liberties, free speech is an indivisible and universal right. We defend it for all or not at all.’
Trigger Warning: Is the fear of being offensive killing free speech?, Mick Hume (Pages. 12 & 13).
In practice, this isn’t easy for Christians – or for anyone else for that matter. Having our faith and our Saviour ridiculed in public isn’t pleasant but is nothing new. And it’s happening all the time directly and indirectly. (I didn’t say we have to like it) Why other lobby groups expect a free pass on abuse and ridicule is quite frankly beyond me. Welcome to the real world. Christians have been living with this reality for centuries. Christians have been pilloried, abused, imprisoned, made fun of, and even burnt. Now, especially in The West, it’s shaming, losing your livelihood and trial by Media. In other countries, right now, like China for example, it’s another story.
In order to apply the principles of democracy, tolerance and free speech, which the UK is supposed to stand for, and even exports (allegedly), is it unreasonable to ask for the liberty to speak freely? By speaking freely I mean as Mick Hume writes ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.’ This freedom is disappearing. We thank God for the freedoms we enjoy and we should pray that it continues. But what to do? The temptation is to lie down and simply hope it will all go away and suddenly as if by magic all our liberties will be restored. It’s not going to happen. You might remember when Boris Johnson brought the topic of Free-Speech to the fore (which BTW has come back several times – including ‘Any Questions’ BBC Radio 4).
At the end of the book, Mick Hulme has provided a glossary, if you will, of anti-free speech Trigger Warnings that were trotted out several times over the comments by Boris. Nothing has changed in the intervening period, our liberties, or lack of them, continually slip away. How things change, Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister. Incidentally, ‘Boris’ is a passionate believer in Free Speech (correct me if I’m wrong). Consider the torrent of abuse he receives – including from Christians. Just in the last week a Judge ruled against a Doctor for not referring to someone by their preferred way of being addressed. Again, I’m just amazed at how fast things are moving.
Here’s the first two of Mick Hulme’s Glossary:
‘This is not a free-speech issue.’
‘This is a pretty sure sign that yes, it is.
The first shot fired in the silent war on free speech is often an assurance that the bans or proscriptions on speech being demanded really have nothing to do with attacking freedom of expression. Of course, the fraudsters assure us that they support free speech, but this is about something else – hate or harassment, national security or personal safety.
What they usually mean is ‘This not a me-speech issue’. It is not infringing on their free speech, so it’s not a problem. But free speech is not the same as me-speech, never mind me-me-me speech. It is always about defending freedom for the other fellow, for the one who thinks differently.’
Incidentally, there have a few discussions regarding our freedom to Speak and interesting, and alarming, to note the frequency these warnings given by Mick Hume are used. But here’s another one that you will probably have noticed. One more:
‘Of course I believe in free speech, but…’
‘This is the one most often guaranteed to give the game away that no, in fact, you don’t.
Ours is the age of the but-heads, when almost nobody opposes free speech ‘in principle’, but Principle is seemingly another country and they do things differently there. In Practice, back here on Earth, many have a ‘but’ to wave around in the face of free speech to explain why the freedom to express an opinion should go thus far, but no further, like ‘free’-range livestock caged in a pen.
This might sound reasonable. But (to use the only language some people seem to understand) the problem is that, like all meaningful liberties, free speech has to be a universal and indivisible right. Once you apply a ‘but’ impose conditions or attach a string, it ceases to be a right. Instead it becomes a concession to be rationed by somebody in authority.
Those ubiquitous ‘buts’ don’t just qualify a commitment to free speech, they crush it. To claim to believe in free speech, but … is akin to insisting that you believe in an Almighty God, but you don’t think He’s all that. It might be better if the but-heads came clean and confessed that they don’t really believe in free speech after all.’
Having said all the above, does that mean we can say whatever we like in an absolute sense? By absolute, I mean saying whatever you like without any eternal consequence. I accept that as Christians we ought to weigh our words carefully and I’ll be the first to confess that I may have overstepped the mark on occasion. We should all consider some words from the Bible. Of course, the Bible is itself soon to be labeled Hate Speech (Gen 1:27). The Bible is considered by some as outrageous, and probably to some extent by Mick Hume, but he doesn’t (I assume) want to close me down or have me arrested for having a different view or even for calling him a sinner. The fact is, Jesus said that every idle word we say will be brought into the judgment.
Mat 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless (idle AV) word they speak,
Mat 12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ESV)
That is serious stuff but I still believe people have the right to call me a nutcase and say what they like about the Christian faith. In this life Jesus said every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven: except a final rejection of the Salvation offered by God. But right now, your sin, no matter how grievous, and no matter how you may have railed against your God, it can all be forgiven.
This morning I read this post by Stephen Kneale at The Arbour. Later, I read Isaiah 54:17. What follows below are commentaries from Albert Barnes & John Gill on this verse in Isaiah. They are quite lengthy, but given the apparent progress the enemies of The Gospel of The Lord Christ are making it seems somewhat providential to post them here. And let’s be clear, the defense of Traditional Marriage isn’t about battering Homosexuals or anyone else. What it is really about is the authority of the Bible and among other things what it means to be a Christian. What is a Christian is an ongoing question that will not and is not going to go away. Why? Because sinful man is forever trying to find a way of Salvation that keeps man on the throne. The cry of sinful man, no matter how polite it can seem, is ‘We will not have this man (The Lord Jesus) rule over us. (See Luke 19:14) The Freedom to express any other view or belief other than the one you are told to express, particularly on SSM or Abortion, is starting to look like and feel like extremism. If it looks like a duck….
Here’s the text of Isaiah 54:17. ‘no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD’ (ESV). The comments of Barnes & Gill follow.
No weapon that is formed – No instrument of war, no sword, or spear; no instrument of persecution or torture that is made by the smith, Isa 54:16.
Shall prosper – On the meaning of this word, see the notes at Isa 52:13. The sense here is, that it shall not have final and ultimate prosperity. It might be permitted for a time to appear to prosper – as persecutors and oppressors have done; but there would not be final and complete success.
And every tongue – No one shall be able to injure you by words and accusations. If a controversy shall arise; if others reproach you and accuse you of imposture and deceit, you will be able ultimately to convince them of error, and, by manifestation of the truth, to condemn them. The language here is derived probably from courts of justice (see the notes at Isa 41:1); and the idea is, that truth and victory, in every strife of words, would be on the side of the church. To those who have watched the progress of discussions thus far on the subject of the true religion, it is needless to say that this has been triumphantly fulfilled. Argument, sophism, ridicule, have all been tried to overthrow the truth of the Christian religion. Appeals have been made to astronomy, geology, antiquities, history, and indeed to almost every department of science, and with the same want of success. Poetry has lent the charm of its numbers; the grave historian has interwoven with the thread of his narrative covert attacks and sly insinuations against the Bible; the earth has been explored to prove that’ He who made the world and revealed its age to Moses was mistaken in its age;’ and the records of Oriental nations, tracing their history up cycles of ages beyond the Scripture account of the creation of the world, have been appealed to, but thus far in all these contests ultimate victory has declared in favor of the Bible. And no matter from what quarter the attack has come, and no matter how much learning and talent have been evinced by the adversaries of the Bible, God has raised up some Watson, or Lardner, or Chalmers, or Buckland, or Cuvier, or Wiseman, to meet these charges, and to turn the scales in favor of the cause of truth. They who are desirous of examining the effects of the controversy of Christianity with science, and the results, can find them detailed with great learning and talent in Dr. Wiseman’s Lectures on the connection between Science and Revealed Religion, Andover, 1837.
This is the heritage – The inheritance which awaits those who serve God is truth and victory. It is not gold and the triumph of battle. It is not the laurel won in fields of blood. But it is, the protection of God in all times of trouble; his friendship in all periods of adversity; complete victory in all contests with error and false systems of religion; and preservation when foes rise up in any form and endeavor to destroy the church, and to blot out its existence and its name.
And their righteousness is of me – Or rather, ‘this is the righteousness, or the justification which they obtain of me; this is that which I impart to them as their justification.’ The idea is not that their righteousness is of him, but that this justification or vindication from him is a part of their inheritance and their portion. (Albert Barnes December 1, 1798 – December 24, 1870)
”No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,…. All weapons of war, as the Targum, which are made with a design to hurt and destroy the people of God, shall be rendered useless; not one of them shall prosper to the advantage of their enemies, or so as to answer their design; nor to the hurt and prejudice, ruin and destruction, of the saints:
and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment; that shall raise any calumny upon thee, or bring any charge against thee, or enter into a lawsuit with thee, litigate a point with thee in any court of judicature, or claim, in right and law, a power, authority, and dominion over thee, as the pope of Rome does over the consciences of men:
thou shalt condemn; disprove and roll off the calumny, refute the charge and accusation, put to silence the clamours and pretences of wicked men, carry the cause against them, and shake off the yoke of bondage they would bring them under; and, instead of being condemned by them, condemn them. By “weapon” may be meant all the attempts made by force to ruin the interest and church of Christ in the world, such as the bloody persecutions of the Roman emperors, who, though they made sad havoc of the professors of Christianity, and designed hereby to have rooted it out of the world, and thought they should have accomplished it, yet could not do it; so far from it, that the Christians yet more and more increased, insomuch that it became a common saying, that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; also the wars of the Papists with the Albigenses and Waldenses, and all the cruel methods they have taken by fire and faggot, and the bloody inquisition, to hinder the growth of what they call heresy; yet all have been in vain, a reformation has taken place, and many nations have embraced the truth, and shook off the yoke of Popery; together with all their efforts since to crush the Protestant interest; and though the kings of the earth will be stirred up, and gather together to the battle of the Lord God Almighty, they will not succeed, but be overcome and slain, and the beast and false prophet at the head of them will be taken and cast alive into the lake of fire: and by the “tongue” may be designed the edicts of the Pagan emperors, forbidding the exercise of the Christian religion, and threatening the preachers and professors of it with imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and death itself; and the anathemas, bulls, and interdicts of the popes of Rome, as well as the reproaches, scandals, and calumnies uttered by the emissaries of that church against all that depart from it; together with the errors and heresies of false teachers of all sorts in all ages of the world, which, though levelled against the faith and doctrine of the church of Christ, have not been able to subvert it, nor ever will:
this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; this, with all that is said in this chapter, is the part, portion, and privilege, that such shall enjoy who serve the Lord Christ, and not antichrist; they shall be treated rather as sons than as servants, and have an inheritance assigned them; not only protection from all enemies, and absolution from all charges, but they shall receive the reward of the inheritance in heaven, that which is incorruptible and undefiled, and reserved there, since they serve the Lord Christ:
and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord; the vindication of their righteousness, of their cause, and of their character; or the reward of their righteous works in a way of grace; even all that righteousness and true holiness that is in them, and that righteousness which is imputed to them, and by which they are justified, are from the Lord; by which they are secured from all the charges of law and justice, and, from all the accusations of men and devils, and which will answer for them in a time to come, and acquit them at the bar of God before men and angels; see Rom 8:33. (John Gill 23 November 1697 – 14 October 1771)
When I first read this it seemed like an excellent definition of Ideology. It still is, here it is below for your consideration. The quote is from: Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World by David F. Wells. page 25.
‘What the Enlightenment ideology did was to provide an interpretive grid, an all-encompassing understanding, that was laid over the whole of life. This understanding was not much a worldview as an ideology. Ideologies, we might say, are worldviews with an attitude. The intent of every ideology is to control. With the passage of time and the desire to be triumphant, ideologies tend to become simplistic. They find acceptance because they tap into our need, the Canadian writer John Saul says, “to believe in single-stroke, cure all solutions” often presenting us with stark alternatives: “Accept the ideology or perish. Pay the debt or go bankrupt. Nationalize or starve. Privatize or go moribund. Kill inflation or lose all your money.”
Because they leave only one way out, they become coercive. At the same time, ideologies create a sense of inevitability about themselves. They produce passivity in people because what is inevitable cannot be resisted. And they breed intolerance of those who might be opposed to their understanding of life or might raise questions about it. It is these characteristics which help explain why it is so difficult to challenge an ideology once it has been socially ensconced. And yet this is exactly what has been happening with the Enlightenment ideology since the 1960’s.’
My off the cuff comments:
It’s funny thing to carry on as if nothing is happening, or has happened. Most will though, and simply carry on as if nothing has happened. But while we all (rightly) go about our daily business Free Speech & The Freedom of Religion has taken another battering. The ruling over Asher’s Bakery means the end of conscience. It’s clear from todays ruling that conscience, that most precious gift from God, must be aligned with another’s subjective view of how conscience is to be informed. As Christians we believe our conscience is to be informed primarily by a right application of the Word of God – The Bible. There can only be one, ultimately, objective source of ‘right & wrong’ of morality. In our day we are seeing the last vestiges of a ‘right’ means to inform the conscience being dismantled. While the Word of God and the Christian faith continues to be sidelined we ask what is the standard to be applied. It does appear to be the case, that where a conflict occurs between ‘rights’ it will in most cases automatically defer to the Anti-Christian position. But the reality is this; without an objective view of morality supplied by the Word of God the West collectively will slowly but surely itself be sidelined in favour of other civilisations. There is no ‘God-given’ ‘right’ to the West. It will eventually implode on itself. That doesn’t mean the West will disappear, or cease to be a strong economy or the place where many people will seek to find refuge. But it does mean morality will be defined ‘on the hoof’. The situation, or money, or power, or personality, or sexual orientation will decide on all moral cases. This is what must happen when the Bible is abandoned.
This mornings interview (BBC ‘Today’ programme) with Theresa May was truly terrifying. Amazingly John Humphreys actually asked her if someone were to have a different view about Same-Sex Marriage or Homosexuality: would they fall under the cudgel of her totalitarian proposal. She manged to side-step the great JH but he asked her again, and again but eventually gave up as Ms May gave him the old one two and slipped past him until the topic changed to a more convenient one.
I have no idea what she means by ‘British Values’ or just ‘Values’ but she just kept repeating it like a mantra instead of telling us what it is. ‘British Values’ is one of the clubs Ms May will be beating us with. I suppose we are all supposed to just roll over and go back to sleep and let the Government machine bump its way over our freedoms. Freedoms, I might add, that were fought for by our Fathers. They NEVER fought for this. The other two words used were ‘Extremism’ and ‘Tolerance’. No explanation was forthcoming.
“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master— that’s all.”
Best get Humpty Dumpty to define them for all the good it will do to get a definition out of Ms May. We’ll find out what they mean soon enough when more Christians (and probably others, including Atheists) are hauled before the courts for daring to buck the secularist / ‘tolerant’ ideology.
The following excerpts are from a BBC News article: New laws to target radicalisation
David Cameron is to set out a string of new powers to tackle radicalisation, saying the UK has been a “passively tolerant society” for too long.
The PM will tell the National Security Council a counter-extremism bill will be in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May.
The bill will include new immigration rules, powers to close down premises used by extremists and “extremism disruption orders”.
Mr Cameron will say a “poisonous” extremist ideology must be confronted.
And of great concern is this little gem:
She said: “What we are proposing is a bill which will have certain measures within it, measures such as introducing banning orders for groups and disruption orders for individuals, for those who are out there actively trying to promote this hatred and intolerance which can lead to division in our society and undermines our British values.
“But it will be part of a bigger picture , a strategy which will also have as a key part of it actually promoting our British values, our values of democracy, rule of law, tolerance and acceptance of different faiths.”
The measures, she added, will focus on “extremism of all sorts… that is seeking to promote hatred, that is seeking to divide our society, that is seeking to undermine the very values that make us a great country to live in”.
Nowhere are any terms defined. But don’t worry, I’m sure Humpty Dumpty will be on hand to provide one as required. It’s completely bonkers and terrifying. Ironically The Queen is ‘Defender of the Faith’ but will be approving measures designed to destroy it on 27th May.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call.
Psalm 20: 7-9
I looked on all my drives for some pictures I took a few years ago of my Dad wearing his medals, blazer with badge and his cap. I couldn’t find them but I do have his cap. So I took a picture of his Cap & Badge. Here it is.
To All Those That Fought for our Freedom
Dr White of Alpha & Omega Ministries has concluded his response to Dr David Gushee. I recommend you all watch / listen to these. With Churches collapsing and falling over themselves to affirm Same Sex Marriage and the LGBTQ totalitarian ideology Christians need to be prepared. I watched part of a BBC Q & A session last evening (05/05/2015) with Northern Ireland leaders as part of the election coverage over here in the UK. They just were floundering to affirm LGBTQ rights. There was a Christian in the audience that spoke out and despite assurances to the contrary it was obvious his fears will probably be confirmed. Among words used and forcefully expressed by members of the audience were Bigot & Homophobe. As Dr White says ‘it isn’t a slippery slope it’s a cliff’ and we are teetering on the edge looking over. O Lord our God in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2). Videos below. (Go to the bottom of this page for Audio Links) I don’t know Dr White but I take him to be a sane level-headed man not given to scare-mongering. He’s far more aware of what’s going on than I am so I take his warnings seriously.
Video 1 – Responding to Dr. David Gushee’s “Reformation Project” Presentation
‘I began a multi-part, full response to Dr. David Gushee’s presentation at the Reformation Project conference back in 2014 on today’s 90 minute long program. Gushee has taken the position of “lead ally” and scholar in support of the “gay Christian” movement, asserting that the church is guilty of hurting her “sexual minorities.” It is important to understand the arguments Gushee is putting forth, for we will all be hearing them repeated in the months and years to come. I managed to get 22 minutes into the hour long presentation today, and will continue the response on Thursday’s program.’
Video 2 – Continued Response to Dr. David Gushee (Part 2)
‘Here is another 90 minutes of response to Dr. David Gushee in response to his presentation at the Reformation Project back in 2014. I only got through about 12 minutes today as I took more time to expand upon particular points. If you are enjoying this response and finding it useful and edifying, please, share it with others!’
Video 3 – Finishing Up Review/Rebuttal of David Gushee “Reformation Project” Presentation
‘Finished up a five hour response to David Gushee on his presentation identifying the biblical view of homosexuality as a message of “contempt.” We hope to put the entire five hours into a single audio file available for download. Given the recent events at the Supreme Court, this is a vital discussion.’
Audio Links Below (I’ll try to change this to a single file when I can)