I can’t believe some of the things Americans are saying to me. They sound like they’re from downtown Stalingrad, doing their best to toe the party line.
- “You can’t say things that might offend people.”
- “You can’t tell people they’re going to hell.”
- “You can’t call people sinners.”
- “The right to free speech doesn’t mean the right to hate speech.”
- “You’ve been standing here talking to people for 25 minutes. That means you’re loitering, and you have to leave.”
As a Christian, I feel a duty to lovingly and rationally attempt to convince everyone that they are sinners deserving only of hell. This makes the gospel all the more beautiful to tell. However, as Americans, whose rights come from God, we have the right to say what we think—especially if someone else takes offense, or thinks it’s hateful. In fact, even “loud” and “boisterous…religious harangue” is constitutionally protected speech (see Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229, 233 ).
Our freedoms come from God. Thousands of American soldiers have died defending our rights. These rights are precious. I love it when Americans of whatever belief peacefully exercise and defend their rights. I would never insist that someone exercising their free speech rights be hauled off to jail.
The people who want others not to have the right to free speech are really being very selfish. They insist on certain rights for themselves, but when someone else does something they don’t like, they want that individual’s rights stripped away immediately. If enough people are only concerned about themselves, soon enough none of us will have any freedoms.
I find it hard to understand why some Americans who are so eager to give up their rights or take away others’ rights. The people of Iran, for example, don’t have free speech or freedom of the press. Their recent protest of the outcome of their election caused the Iranian government to kick out the press, and who knows how many protesters were injured by the state police. It’s sad to me to see Iranians yearning for freedom while Americans squander their freedom. I pray that the Iranians will someday have the freedom of the press and the free speech that we have.
Last weekend we celebrated Independence Day and the physical and political liberties we enjoy. I hope that every Christian will boldly exercise his or her God-given right to free speech, and take the time to proclaim the message of spiritual freedom—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).