Jerry C. Brewer
Throughout the threescore and ten years of my life, I have heard good brethren thank God in public prayer that we are free to assemble without being molested and plead that such may continue. Indeed, we have been blessed in this country with such freedom, but that is changing inexorably and incrementally.
Christians have always suffered persecution, as Paul said we would (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus was persecuted and hounded by enemies of the Truth throughout His earthly life and that persecution intensified against His followers. When the apostles were arraigned before the Sanhedrin and charged to preach no more in the name of Jesus, they boldly replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). That should be the reply of every child of God to persecution, and when we thank God for religious freedom we should also pray for strength to overcome and “obey God rather than men” when such freedom will be taken from us by civil authorities. And that time is coming.
From the sexual revolution of the 1960s which gave us officially sanctioned fornication, abortion, and sodomy, to recent years in which states have legally recognized marriages between sodomites, our society has been in a downward moral spiral that can only end in misery in this life and eternal destruction in the world to come. There is no official censorship—yet—of gospel preaching, but the move toward eliminating what government and its immoral allies call “hate speech” will ultimately result in that very thing. The move toward censorship is already in motion.
William Butler Yeats was a celebrated Irish poet who was born in 1865. In his famous poem, The Second Coming, he describes such a society in which evil is called good and good is called evil and, after describing a world where morality and decency are turned upside down, ends it with these lines:
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with a lion body and the head of a man
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
In his 1996 book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Judge Robert H. Bork titled it as a play on Yeats’ last couplet in The Second Coming. Here’s how one source describes Bork’s book:
Bork first traces the rapid expansion of modern liberalism that occurred during the Sixties, arguing that this legacy of radicalism demonstrates that the precepts of modern liberalism are antithetical to the rest of the American political tradition. He then attacks a variety of social, cultural, and political experiences as evidence of American cultural decline and degeneracy. Among these are affirmative action, increased violence in and sexualization of mass media, the legalization of abortion, pressure to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, feminism and the decline of religion (www.wikipedia.org).
From an insidious underworld, the decadence which Bork describes and which Paul delineates in Romans 1:18-32, is emerging as the mere tip of the tip of the iceberg in 2012. In recent months, newspapers have refused to print Bible teaching on matters such as abortion and sodomy in Texas and other places, and on May 8, we received a note from the advertising manager of the Elk City (Oklahoma) Daily News that they will place a disclaimer on our article about abortion. We were told that, “…due to your views on the abortion ad, so we don’t get certain people who oppose this, we will need to put a disclaimer on it.”
Now, we understand this is not “official” censorship of Bible teaching, but it tends in that direction. A newspaper publisher may print or refuse to print any material he chooses. That is his prerogative as publisher. My wife and I have owned and published two newspapers, and I have served as Managing Editor of a suburban weekly in Oklahoma City. In all of our newspaper experience, we never placed a disclaimer on any advertisement in any of our papers. We chose not to accept advertising from gambling or liquor establishments, or any advertising dances, but we never used disclaimers. Readers understood (and I suppose they still do) that an advertisement is paid for by the advertiser and opinions expressed in it are those of the advertiser. If someone opposes what is advertised, they are welcome to purchase ad space and reply to the ad with which they disagree. The note from the Elk City Daily News indicates that there is a tendency on their part to use political correctness in their endeavors, rather than journalistic integrity. This ought to be disturbing to anyone who loves the Truth. Their reluctance to print the anti-abortion article also indicates that they are caving in to political pressure and that is but a step away from official censorship. But we will continue preaching the gospel of Christ and addressing issues that some churches of Christ in our area and none of those in the denominational industry will touch with a ten-foot-pole. The advertising manager wrote, “Please let me know asap you received the email…and if you’re okay with us putting a disclaimer on the ad.” We replied that, “The ad is paid and is ours. I fail to see why a disclaimer needs to be placed there when none is placed on the others.” Despite our reply, the paper placed a disclaimer on the ad.
We would expect such reluctance to publish or air our material from the likes of CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times or The Dallas Morning News, but for this to be the politically correct modus operandi of a rural newspaper in western Oklahoma is chilling. Small newspapers are now beginning to march in lockstep with the powers in government that want to muzzle free speech, freedom of religion, and a free press. But the gospel cannot be muzzled or silenced and faithful Christians will continue to sound forth the clarion call to righteousness revealed through the Son of God. Even in a prison cell, Paul and Silas sang praises to God and converted their jailer to Christ (Acts 16:25-33). Neither censorship, chains, shackles, nor prison bars can silence those who “ought to obey God rather than men.”