During the past ten years, American universities have seen an incredible change in what is allowed on campus. Student groups and many faculty members are advocating that their campuses be what they call “safe spaces.” They define a safe space as an area “free of any speech that might be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or offensive in any way.” Free speech is under attack since those calling for safe spaces get to define what speech falls under the category of offensive.
This is the very worst kind of censorship, and it makes any attempt at education or reconciliation impossible. It is interesting that a center of this kind of mentality is the University of California, Berkeley. Many of us remember the protests in the 1960s. At that time students complained that the university wouldn’t allow debate and discussion of controversial issues. Now at the same university students are demanding that no one should be allowed to speak who might say something the students (or faculty) disagree with. People learn best when someone challenges their beliefs because then they have to learn to defend what they believe.
Opponents have always attacked Christianity and refused to allow Christians to present the principles of Christ for debate. When you read about people responding to the message of Paul and Stephen you see people screaming to obliterate their message and fomenting violence to them physically. (See Acts 19:23-30 and 21:28-31) That violence even went to the point of making a pact not to eat until they killed Paul (Acts 23:21).
We have had threats of violence from people who object to the message of our websites. It is virtually impossible to make a thirty-minute speech or write an article that won’t offend someone today. We intend to present evidence and argue for the validity of Christianity no matter what the threats are. As Christians, we would ask if mandating silence is the way to foster understanding and tolerance. “You can kill me, but you can’t kill my message.”
Reference: “The Free Speech Wars,” The Week magazine, June 2, 2017, page 13.
–John N. Clayton © 2017