OPINION – It didn’t take long for the latest culture war against all things religious to come home. Attendees of Saturday’s Cedar City July Jamboree got to see it firsthand.
This popular street festival draws thousands of people to the downtown district each July to admire classic cars, tempting street food and live music.
As I walked along Main Street with my family, I noticed a small crowd gathering near a booth sponsored by a local church. As in previous years, the booth featured a young man preaching a street sermon for the benefit of anyone who wanted to listen.
This year, however, the crowd included disciples of a new brand of tolerance. I heard loud shouting as we drew closer and could see a young man angrily disagreeing with the street preacher.
The fact that someone disagreed wasn’t as shocking as the tone and demeanor of the heckler. The man was furiously berating the young preacher about biblical teachings regarding homosexuality.
To his credit, the young man preaching was keeping his cool as he sought to defend his beliefs and witness to the crowd. He repeatedly emphasized that he was in as much need of God’s mercy as anyone else.
The preacher noted that homosexual behavior is not the only thing that God considers an abomination. He rightly pointed out that a lying tongue and a heart filled with pride are also abominations of which most of us have been guilty.
No one was being singled out for condemnation yet all were being invited to pay attention to his plea for repentance.
It was at this point that the heckler unleashed a torrent of shouted profanity with zero regard for the families with young children in the vicinity. This prompted several in the crowd, including a police officer, to begin asking the man to calm down.
Soon a young woman stepped forward and began waving her arms while screaming her disapproval inches from the preacher’s face. I was grateful that my wife had shepherded the kids on ahead so they didn’t have to listen to the barrage of invective from the social justice warriors.
Hell hath no fury like an advocate for tolerance whose sensitivity has been offended.
Of course, it takes very little to offend those who seek offense for the sole purpose of controlling others. This is particularly true when it comes to matters involving religion.
Tolerance has become a one-way street that insists that religion can only be tolerated when it is silently kept to oneself.
C.S. Lewis recognized this trend long ago:
When the modern world says to us aloud, ‘You may be religious when you are alone,’ it adds under its breath, ‘and I will see to it that you never are alone.’
What was supposed to be a movement to head off the next Spanish Inquisition by separating church and state has become something else entirely. It’s now a purge to punish and silence believers through shouted accusations of hate and the assignment of guilt.
Invigorated by their latest short term cultural victories, the social justice sharks sense blood in the water and are pressing for all they can get.
In the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, the quest to impose sensitivity now enjoys the full destructive backing of state power. The Kleins were socked with a $135,000 fine and slapped with a virtual gag order for declining to create a wedding cake for a same sex wedding.
Social justice warriors are now openly calling for churches to be stripped of their tax-exempt status to punish those that refuse to accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage.
Every belief that speaks to the worth of individual conscience is coming under attack. Anything that ties us to a past where faith and the distinction between right and wrong were held sacred is being systematically erased.
But bullying and spurious guilt trips won’t work forever. The seeds of civil disobedience have been sown and are beginning to sprout. Those who arrogantly presume to control us are at risk of waking a sleeping giant.
For example, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court has ordered that a Ten Commandments monument on the state capitol grounds be removed. Governor Mary Fallin and the state’s legislature are refusing to comply. Apparently some truths have endured far more than simply the latest fads.
One small act of courage begets others.
Commentator Pat Buchanan wonders publicly, are we seeing the birth of a new era of civil disobedience?
It’s easy to recognize who is being peaceful and who is behaving tyrannically.
Perhaps it’s time to officially adopt as our own Jefferson’s motto: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
Bryan Hyde is a radio commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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