Like The Incredible Shrinking Man, a 1957 science-fiction movie about a man who mysteriously began to shrink in size, Christianity is begin forced into smaller and smaller space. Once, Christianity enjoyed a very large space in the public forum. Now, Christianity is being forced to shrink. This article is written to explain how.
In the United States, freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right guaranteed in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the government from both promoting one religion over others, and also fromrestricting religious practices. Other rights, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and the rights of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government, are also affirmed.
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.
Freedom of religion is now being attacked in two ways. First, there is the overt "Freedom From Religion" movement. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, this is a formal organization that has sunk huge sums of money into anti-Christian lawsuits. Describing themselves as a "watchdog organization" and often allied with the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom From Religion is behind the many legal challenges to nativity scenes, the posting of the Ten Commandments, and etc. They have been so successful that many organizations break and run at the mere threat of a Freedom From Religion lawsuit. An example of this was when Kountze ISD prohibited their cheerleaders from posting Bible-themed signs after receiving a complaint from Freedom From Religion.
Second, there is the slightly more subtle change from "freedom of religion" to "freedom of worship." Although the First Amendment guarantees "freedom of religion," many Left-leaning politicians often use the phrase "freedom of worship." The Obama administration has been particularly inclined to displace "freedom of religion" in this way. The import of these new words is to suggest that the only religious freedoms that are constitutionally guaranteed are those that take place in places of worship. The effect is to suggest that religious practices and beliefs that are public (as opposed to those in church houses) are not protected. The rollback of protected religion into purely private ceremonies has already begun. Examples include the various lawsuits and penalties that have forced Christian cake shop owners to bake cakes for same-sex weddings.
The Shrinkage Of Social Pressures
Social pressure is the force individuals feel to conform to society's expectations. Now society's force is directed against "religious extremism." The effect of the force is both subtle and powerful. Nobody wants to be viewed as an extremist.
But what is the current definition of "religious extremism?" You will be surprised. Examples include the following:
- Opposition to Islam
- Opposition to same-sex marriage
- Opposition to abortion
- The Atlantic (March 10, 2016) reports that "New data show that most Americans consider the beliefs and practices of traditional Christians to be ‘extreme.’
- The same article reported that "if you 'attempt to convert others” to your faith, 60 percent of Americans now believe you are extreme." Thus, evangelism and conversion is on the outs.
- The Atlantic also reports that "if your teenage daughter commits to abstain from sex until marriage, a quarter of Americans say she’s an extremist too." "This means that many Americans now believe that Christians who advocate for sexual abstinence (are), in some way, a social threat."
From great big legal challenges to smaller social pressures, "this present evil word" is doing its best to either force Christians into a very small or corner, or - this is their preference - to force Christians to so thoroughly alter their beliefs and practices so as to be indistinguishable from the world. Be very cautious about the influence of the world. Be especially cautious about the influence of worldly "Christians" who have already given in, and who would like for you to join them in Incredible Shrinking Christianity.