Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Silencing Dissenting Voices?

What is it about human nature that we always seek to ban messages or silence people who disagree with us? I was half listening to a conversation at Teachers’ College the other day where a young lady was up in arms. It turns out she was irritated because another student had taken a different approach to an essay topic than her. She did not think he should have been allowed to have the viewpoint he did. Now you may laugh at this – and perhaps notice the similarities this young lady shows to those who disapprove of physical discipline on their children so seek that it should be banned for everyone else. Yet I think Christians also suffer from this neurosis.

Take for example the reaction of some Christians to the atheist bus campaign in the UK and the similar attempt here in New Zealand. A significant number of Christians think that atheists should not be able to advertise their beliefs in public places. We are concerned perhaps that people may read “There is probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life” and doubt the existence of God, or perhaps turn away from the faith. We are annoyed that Christians are falsely portrayed as living joyless lives, when we know from personal experience that Jesus has come to bring us life abundant! However I believe that attempting to ban what we disagree with sets a dangerous precedent. What if the majority of people decide they do not like what we say and want to ban our thoughts and the public expression of our faith on billboards, pamphlets and radio? This would be a deplorable state of affairs. In general I believe we should support the right of others to say things publically, even if we disagree with them, because we also want to speak about our faith publically. It is hypocritical of us to demand the right to express our beliefs yet deny those rights to others.

What further amuses me about this situation is the contradiction in the thinking of some Christians. They get their knickers in a twist because “There is probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life” is posted in the public space of a bus. Yet some of those very same Christians send their children to public schools, where God is banished and in essence the children are taught “There is probably no God – or at least he’s not relevant to what you’re learning about, so get on with learning without him”. In my mind the far more dangerous message is the silent and subtle message of the education system rather than the in-your-face attack of the bus slogans. Better that God be up for discussion in a public place than be ignored there completely.

We do not need to be afraid of the enemies of the gospel. The gospel is powerful and does not need state protection to advance. When the gospel took off in the first few centuries after Jesus died, the state was not benign with respect to the church. Christianity did not spread because its beliefs were forced upon an unwilling population. Other viewpoints were not silenced - although later they were and we all know what happened to Christianity then! In fact, in the early days of the church, Christians were often persecuted by the state. A plethora of religions and gods surrounded the early Christians and the messages they were bombarded with were much more antagonistic than the slogan we are discussing now. Yet the gospel was able to spread in this situation because people were able to see the light of the truth in the midst of the lies and darkness of Satan. In the same way, I believe this campaign gives us a chance to discuss our faith in the public arena. It is a positive opportunity in a world that is increasingly trying to limit our faith to the personal sphere. So I say “Let them come!”

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  • I disagree entirely with what you have said. As I disagree I will report it as hate speech against me and ask blogspot to remove it.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 12:38 PM, March 07, 2010  

  • Good post Scott! I agree entirely.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 PM, March 07, 2010  

  • I disagree entirely with the fact that Jonathan disagrees with you and wants to report you to blogspot. I think you should remove his comment.

    By Anonymous Roger, at 1:46 PM, March 07, 2010  

  • Hi,

    My name is Rev Robert Wright, Editor for, a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the entire Christian community an outlet to join together and better spread the good word of Christianity. has many great features like Christian TV, prayer requests, finding a church, receiving church updates and advice. We have emailed you to collaborate with you and your blog to help spread the good word of Christianity. I look forward to your response regarding this matter. Thanks!

    Rev. Robert Wright

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:10 AM, May 01, 2010  

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