“Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist?”
That dreaded question reduced corporate heads and A-list celebrities to Jello during the notorious House on Un-American Activities Committee hearings headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the 1950’s.
Under the guise of enhancing national security, McCarthy launched what eventually became a reign of terror so reminiscent of the Salem Witchcraft Trials that The Crucible, playwright Arthur Miller’s dramatization of the Salem madness, was inspired by McCarthy.
Anyone named as a suspected Communist could expect to be hauled before the committee to respond to the generic Are you now or have you ever been a Communist? inquisition. If a remote connection (real or alleged) could be found between the accused and any form of Communism, they could expect financial and professional ruin, blackballing, or even prison if they refused to name other alleged commie sympathizers.
Deju Vu All Over Again
We look at the McCarthy era with contempt for its promoters and everyone who went along with them. 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, the born again believers who insists 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; and that they extend themselves to our family and sexual relationships.
Just ask former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, appointed by President Obama as U. S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration in 2009 before serving as Atlanta’s Chief. Cochran, a devout African-American Baptist, authored a men’s Bible study guide in 2013 which included a single reference to homosexuality as being one of many sins condemned in the Bible.
For this crime he was suspended without pay for a month, ordered to undergo sensitivity training, investigated, then fired by Atlanta’s mayor.
Or ask evangelist Greg Laurie, whose organization Southern California Harvest Crusade purchased billboard space in the affluent Fashion Island shopping mall in Newport Beach, CA. Because the billboard featured a photo of Laurie holding a Bible, multiple complaints (and even a threat) prompted the billboard company to first require Laurie to provide another type of illustration and then, although he complied, to simply take down the billboards altogether and refuse 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, passed by the California Senate and referred for a final Assembly vote, forbids counselors from charging for services they offer that in any way assist a client in making a change in his homosexual behavior
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 the larger issue 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.
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 can be threatened, and 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 (until recently) harmony with Biblical beliefs left Her churches ill equipped to defend the faith and the principles associated with it, since there was little need for defense. Maybe the Christian population is like someone who never needed to learn self-defense because he was raised in such a comfortable neighborhood, but has now been transplanted to a dangerous community where fighting skills are a necessity.
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, because 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 —“