Dear CRI Partner:
“Where will we go?”
These are the opening words of Mary Eberstadt’s new book, It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. And the question was posed by fellow believers at a dinner in Denver where the topic of discussion had shifted to the growing bellicosity toward believers in the United States.
Posed by Jews in Europe in the late 1930s or early 1940s, the question would have needed no explanation—only a plausible answer.
Posed by Christians during Stalin’s purges, or by intellectuals fleeing Pol Pot’s persecutions in Cambodia, the question was likewise grasped with terrifying urgency. And a satisfactory answer, which few could find, meant the difference between life and death.
But to have the question seriously posed today by highly educated, thoughtful, and compassionate Christians in the United States is no indication of paranoia.
It’s a stunning revelation of how alarmingly far our nation has drifted in a matter of a few decades.
While a list of the increasing assaults on Christians and religious freedoms in our nation could fill entire books, consider just the following:
- InterVarsity, one of the largest collegiate associations in the country, has been “derecognized” on a growing number of college campuses. Why are they being denied this long-standing privilege? Because they dare to believe in traditional morals.
- Louie Giglio, a Christian pastor in Atlanta widely known for his work against human trafficking, withdraws from giving the benediction at President Barack Obama’s second swearing-in ceremony. Why? A progressive “watchdog” group posted a sermon from the mid-1990s in which he had the audacity to encourage believers to “lovingly but firmly” resist nontraditional marriage.
- A visitor to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is ordered to remove a pro-life pin on her lapel before entering because it’s a “religious symbol.”
- The city of Houston issued subpoenas ordering pastors to turn over any sermons mentioning gender identity—and/or the mayor.
- A US Marine in North Carolina is court-martialed, discharged from the military, and denied military benefits because she posted a motivational poster from Isaiah 54:17 near her office computer (“No weapon formed against me shall prosper”).
I wish I could say that the list of assaults stops here. Or that it’s restricted to the United States. But here is just a glimpse of what is happening in Great Britain:
- A teacher is fired for praying for a sick child. Her managers called it “bullying.”
- A preacher was sent to jail for speaking “threatening” words from the Book of Leviticus.
- A delivery driver loses his job for leaving a crucifix on the dashboard.
- A couple is denied status as foster parents because they will not recant unwanted passages from the Bible.
- A preschool teacher is fired for refusing to read a book about same-sex parents aloud to three-year-olds.
Again, the list could go on and on. But my point in sharing this is not to scare you with mere hypothetical possibilities. My aim is acute sobriety among believers from coast to coast regarding what is now happening each and every day in nations that were once overwhelmingly Christian.
The simple and scary truth is that a tsunami of secularism has been unleashed, and we’ve not yet seen its high-water mark. In the wake of this onslaught are grave threats to our religious liberties and to millions of Christians. As Mary Eberstadt puts the new dilemma in It’s Dangerous to Believe:
“My faith vs. my job.
My faith vs. my social standing.
My faith vs. my future
For more and more Christians, such either-or thought experiments aren’t theoretical exercises. They are constant real-life companions….A few years into the third millennium, in a transformation that has taken almost everyone by surprise, these believers have gone from being mainstays of Western culture to existential question marks within it.”
But with these threats in mind, let me also share a conviction that some might find surprising.
As formidable and relentless as militant secularism is with its attack dogs being unleashed on Christian belief, I don’t think that secularism is our greatest foe.
I think our greatest enemies are ignorance, denial, indifference, and a retreat into cozy church cocoons or shrinking spiritual ghettoes, naively and simplistically trusting that “this too shall pass.”
You see, hostile secularism is unquestionably winning more and more battles and tenaciously gaining ground. But it advances only as Christians retreat (or simply sleep through the conflict). And only as non-Christians of countless persuasions allow the assaults on religious liberty to continue violating Americans’ most basic freedoms without calling them out and saying, “Enough is enough!”
Believer or not, as Abraham Kuyper once put it, “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin.”
That’s why, in continuing to sound an alarm—and with an appeal to you to continue making a difference in these battles for truth and life—I’ll encourage you to get your copy of It’s Dangerous to Believe.
Better yet, get two copies, and give one to a family member, friend, or colleague who needs to better understand the menacing conflicts underway and how much is at stake. Not just for you and me but also for future generations who will either laud or lament what you and I did or failed to do during these times of “soft” persecution that may well turn hard if not stopped in its tracks.
Then, I’ll be bold enough to ask you to do three things:
- “Watch and pray”—Or as the English Standard Version puts it, “Stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36, emphasis added). Be alert to the mounting threats to our freedoms of belief and expression, and pray that God will awaken and fortify His people to stand courageously against this gathering storm.
- Prepare—There will be no favorable outcomes for those ill equipped to deal with the increasing attacks on our faith and our liberties. So read. Study. Listen to the Bible Answer Man broadcast and other programs that can alert you to what is going on and equip and encourage you to stand your ground.
- Act!—I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions the need not just for orthodoxy (right belief) but also orthopraxis (right action). When push comes to shove in these battles for religious freedoms, it ultimately won’t matter what people merely “believed.” The critical difference will be made by those who acted in faith on those beliefs to be salt and light in the midst of growing decay and darkness.
Among the most strategic actions you can take is your continuing partnership with CRI. It’s here that your prayers and financial support are combined with those of thousands of other like-minded believers, and your values and voice are leveraged through CRI’s “megaphones” of radio, website, the Christian Research Journal, and a growing number of other “Apologist’s Arsenal” resources.
Each and every day, 24/7, your partnership makes it possible to equip thousands of kingdom change agents, here and around the globe.
My deepest thanks for the difference you continue to make. Not only in the lives of countless individuals and families but also in our collective national dialogue, by ensuring that a clear and consistent voice for life and truth isn’t silenced.
…because Life and Truth matter,
P.S. The great Irish statesman Edmund Burke memorably said two things that are relevant to the battles for truth and life in which we are now engaged: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” and “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
For the good you do to help deny the triumph of evil, I’m more grateful than words can express.