Do you remember Andrew Brunson? He is an American pastor from North Carolina who had lived in Turkey for twenty years with his wife and three children. He pastored a small church there and was arrested in 2016, accused of being a spy for the people that attempted a coup against the Turkish president. He was innocent and it was believed that he was arrested, charged and jailed simply because of his Christian faith. He was held for two years until President Trump held the Turkish leaders’ feet to the fire and they freed him.
This morning (February 27, 2022) when I was driving home from grocery shopping, there was a church service on the radio and Pastor Brunson was their guest. He spoke briefly telling how he had just returned from a trip to Finland where he visited with a lady that had been arrested and jailed there. Her name is Paivi Rasanan and she is a member of their Parliament. Her crime? She quoted a specific Bible verse that addressed an event that her church had sponsored that she personally believes to be Biblically wrong. She even specifically stated that she was not trying to insult the minority group involved but was criticizing the leadership or the church. But, she was charged with “incitement against a minority group”.
This specific case in Finland is an obvious attack on an individual’s right to free speech. However, this unfortunately is not a unique situation. This kind of attack on free speech has been going on for years in France; and, as I did some research for this article I also saw many examples of people being charged in England and Canada for expressing their personal opinions. If you are on any kind of social media or read/hear any news that is not slanted by the mainstream media, you know that intolerance for our free speech is increasing at a rapid rate here in the U.S. as well. There are many involved in the big tech companies that are even calling for a stronger stance on censorship.
I cannot speak about other nations, but here in America, our free speech is supposed to be guaranteed by the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. “What Does the First Amendment Mean?…Freedom of speech: The First Amendment of the United States Constitution stops the government from making any laws that may stop us from saying what we feel or think. The American people have the right to share their opinions with other people or criticize the government.” *
So how is it possible that we can be so restricted that we cannot freely and openly state our opinions today? My personal thoughts are these: (1) We have too many leaders that are so power hungry they want to do what they want, when they want, with no regard to what may or may not be best for our nation and the world. (2) Those same leaders feel threatened when anyone disagrees with them, so they want to restrict their right to speak of that disagreement. (After all, we cannot possibly allow that because other people may see/read/hear those opinions, decide they make sense, and begin to turn on that said leadership.) (3) We have a mainstream media that has put blinders on to what is really happening in our nation and around the world and become a “division” of our corrupt leaders. They no longer truly just report the news, they offer their own personal opinions. But hey! Since they seem to almost always agree with the corrupt leaders, then that is okay for them to freely speak out. (4) We have several huge tech companies that have extraordinary power that allows them to limit, or even stop, our right to speak our opinion in their public forum. So their “fact checkers” will delete, or limit the exposure of what you say; and, if they deem what you talk about as really bad, they will block you completely – temporarily or even permanently from their platform.
Back to Pastor Brunson – when he spoke this morning he expressed his deep concerns of how Finland’s ability to arrest and jail people for simply stating their own personal views is an action that is spreading quickly and rearing its ugly head here in America. He believes that with the passage of some particular legislation that is before our elected leaders, those drastic actions will be legalized here.
So, what are we to do? How can we stop this erosion of our precious freedoms? (As I am sure you are aware, this freedom of speech is not the only one we see being attacked these days.) A specific verse that Pastor Brunson referenced this morning was Daniel 11:32b (NLV) – “…But the people who know their God will show their strength and stand against him.” (“Him” being the enemy – whomever/whatever that might be.)
I believe that as Christians, it is incumbent on us to take action. As someone once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We cannot just continue to live our lives thinking someone else will do something about it. That someone else is YOU! Complacency is our enemy! Our first and foremost weapon is prayer – we need to be making a concerted effort every single day to pray about the erosion of our freedoms. Romans 12:12b (MSG) “…Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.” Stay focused and be relentless as we barrage heaven with our requests. We need to be regularly contacting our elected officials demanding that they stand against legislation that diminishes our Constitutional freedoms and to protect our Constitutional rights. Hebrews 10:24 (NIV): “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” We should try to spur them on to do what is good and right, reminding them that they will be held accountable by the voters – the people for whom they work. When it comes to electing leaders, we need to do in depth research on the candidates and then go vote. I know that what transpired in the 2020 elections discouraged a lot of people. They came to believe that going to vote was a waste of time because votes are being manipulated for an outcome to satisfy the immoral leadership. But we cannot give up and give in to that ideology – that is what they want us to do. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9 NIV)
So, will you stand? Stand to resist complacency? Stand for daily prayer? Stand up and hold elected officials accountable? Stand to educate yourself on those asking to represent you, assuring your vote goes to the best candidate to protect our rights? Commit today to stand against the enemies!
Written by Karran Martin – February 27, 2022