“Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?”
That dreaded question once reduced corporate heads and A-list celebrities to Jello. It happened during the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee hearings headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the 1950s.
Under the guise of national security, McCarthy launched what became a reign of terror. It was so reminiscent of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, it inspired The Crucible, playwright Arthur Miller’s play dramatizing the Salem madness.
Anyone named as a suspected Communist could expect to be hauled before the committee. They’d be forced to respond to the Are you now or have you ever been a Communist? inquisition. If any connection (real or alleged) could be found between the accused and any form of Communism, they could expect financial and professional ruin. They could be blackballed. They could even face prison if they refused to name other alleged commie sympathizers.
Deju Vu All Over Again
We look at the McCarthy era with contempt. But as a cute little girl in a well-known ghost story once said, “They’re baaaaaaaack!”
This time the undesirable element society must purge itself of — the Those— isn’t the Communists. It’s conservative Evangelicals. It’s the born again believers who insist that there is a Creator. That the Creator has specific intentions for His creation. That those intentions are clarified in an inspired document called the Bible. That those intentions extend themselves to our family and sexual relationships.
Just ask Kelvin Cochran. President Obama appointed him as U.S. Fire Administrator in 2009. Later he served as Atlanta’s Fire Chief. Cochran, a devout African-American Baptist, had authored a men’s Bible study guide in 2013. It included a single reference to homosexuality as one of many sins condemned in the Bible.
For this crime he was suspended without pay for a month. He was ordered to undergo sensitivity training. He was investigated, then fired by Atlanta’s mayor.
Or ask evangelist Greg Laurie. His Southern California Harvest Crusade purchased billboard space in the affluent Fashion Island shopping mall in Newport Beach. The billboard featured a photo of Laurie holding a Bible — and that simple photos photo led to multiple complaints and even a threat. These prompted the billboard company first to require Laurie to provide another type of illustration. Later, although he complied, the company decided simply to take down the billboards altogether. They also refused Harvest any further rental space.
Or ask any Christian counselor in California (this one included) who counsels Christians in conflict over their same-sex attractions. Assembly Bill 2943 has been passed by the state’s Senate and referred for a final Assembly vote. It forbids counselors from charging for services they offer that in any way assist a client in making a change in his homosexual behavior or responses.
The Big Bleak Picture
These are all specific outrages; just a few of many. But the larger issue should raise our hackles even more, and that is this: We’ve entered a season of fear. The real, tangible, gut-wrenching kind, one in which it’s costly indeed to be one of Those.
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It won’t take a Senate Committee to bring you down if you’re a Those. In this age of immediate communication and spin, one wrong sentence or association and your business can fold. A lawsuit may follow; your tax exempt status may be threatened. You can be so effectively ostracized that any credibility you’ve built over the years is demolished. All because you hold traditional beliefs about God, the Bible, sex and the family.
As my frustrated wife once wrote in a published letter to our local newspaper, complaining about their coverage bias against believers, “Are you trying to tell us we’ve been bad little Evangelicals?”
Out of Shape and Unprepared
Maybe we’ve had it too easy. Maybe America’s longstanding harmony (until recently) with Biblical beliefs left her churches ill equipped to defend the faith. There was little need for defense before now, after all. Maybe the Christian population is like someone who was raised in a comfortable neighborhood and never needed to learn self-defense. But now that person has been moved to a dangerous community where fighting skills are essential.
Regardless, there is a debate to be had, and we’re ill prepared. Now, more than ever, we need our apologists and teachers to equip us for life in 2018 and beyond. For at the risk of being labeled paranoid, my guess is that no matter how quietly and amiably you seek to live, if you hold to beliefs clearly spelled out in Scripture, you will at some point feel the discomfort of being stared at with raised eyebrows as your questioner asks,
“Are you now, or have you ever been —”
Read more at ‘So Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been, an Evangelical?’.