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Let’s talk about free speech

I looked up all the answers to your questions so you don’t have to; let’s talk about free speech.

President’s Twitter got deleted. Then some other stuff. Y’all mad? Let me tell you why you shouldn’t be.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Source

Deleting social media posts and accounts has nothing to do with free speech. The Bill of Rights gives you the right to speak freely under Congressional rule- not under a private company where you agree to rules and regulations before you make an account.

But won’t this create a slippery slope, you ask? No, I don’t think so. Rules against what you can and can’t say have existed for a while, even within the First Amendment itself. The Supreme Court has decided as much. I’ll admit, I’m rusty on my court cases. It’s been several years since I took a media law class, but I remember enough to Google the gaps. There’s a good summary here of Brandenburg vs. Ohio, a case the Supreme Court decided in 1969. Basically, you have a lot of wiggle room to support violence and unlawful action in your First Amendment rights, but there is a line when it presents imminent threat. More here, if you’re interested.

Now for my personal opinion? Hate speech is a protected right under the First Amendment, but seeing as I have honed in my audience as a Christian audience, hate speech has no place here. It is not of God. I thought about it a lot a few years back when Je Suis Charlie was ringing in our ears. No, that publication wasn’t religious and I have only media standards to expect them to uphold, but you know I love to make culture and faith collide. And it wasn’t in the U.S., so they don’t have the Constitution, but enough with the disclaimers. That attack gave me a lot of time to think about the responsibility that comes with words. I have a blog from 5 years ago that I wrote in response, but I made it private because I have grown since. Maybe it’ll see the light again one day. The point? Five years ago I decided that free speech is an American right, but it’s not a Christian right.

A Christian should speak the truth, the light, the gospel, love that builds. Christian speech can be radical and offensive; don’t hear me say that it can’t. As much as I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, sometimes the truth does hurt. I’m not talking about truth. I’m not talking about righteous anger and civil arguments. Goodness, maybe I’m just talking about what I see you post on social media. I’m talking about the idolatry the religious right in American has for this country- the Christian nationalist speech that hurts and harms and is certainly not of God. I’m talking about the speech that uses the Bible (somehow) to deny or defend racism and prejudice, the speech that shuts down the oppressed and hurting.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12

I put the last sentence in bold because it scares me. Oh the wicked thoughts I’ve had and the ones I’ve said out loud… they are many. It’s why I wrote my post a few days ago. Telling you I have to start listening to God again before I speak because I really have nothing but anger in myself lately and it’s empty. I’m full of fire but none of it is righteous. Do you ever just type in a keyword on Open Bible and start reading the verses and say “whoops” because you’re not following any of them? Well… whoops.

My heart is heavy and my eyes are tired. So, here I am, imploring you to listen. American Christianity is the saddest I’ve ever seen it, but I’m not surprised. This has been our legacy. We have been loud and angry, hateful and power-hungry. I want to be different. Do you?

Edit: After asking for feedback, I received a comment. “It’s hard to know what the truth is.” Yeah, good point. And my blog isn’t here to tell you what the truth is. I’m here, on this post, to point you to God, to the Spirit that tells you what the truth is. Happy searching.

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