“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
This post is the sixteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:
Harmful Effect #16: Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought..
In my previous post in this series, I made the following observation:
“Given the history officially atheistic nations (such as the USSR, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Communist North Korea, and Communist China), it’s clear that many atheists do not support systems of government where laws of any kind are made democratically and where speech is made freely.”
This observation is not controversial or contentious in any way. In fact, it is a widely-accepted observation about well-known historical facts. In light of this observation, it’s almost unfathomable that anyone could make an assertion such as “harmful effect #16.” Societies which are explicitly irreligious and atheistic have been some of the most suppressive of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs, and thought. How, then, can such actions be considered a harmful effect of Christianity? Rather, actions such as these are more properly considered (like so many other items on this list) harmful effects of humanity.
Furthermore, this harmful effect implies that censorship is harmful in and of itself. Some forms of censorship are arguably appropriate. Young children, for example, shouldn’t be exposed to pornographic films and profane language. These are things that should be censored, and are, even in secular nations such as the United States of America. Christians have influenced censorship standards in the United States and elsewhere. Likewise, Christians have influenced policies which advocate freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Once again, I am making relatively uncontroversial assertions. Harmful Effect #16 does not stand.
Christians reading this should thoughtfully consider the function to which we are called in this world. Christians are called to be salt and light. As Paul communicated to the Church at Philippi, Christians should dwell on pure things. Christians can not reasonably expect a lost world to do the same. While there are some restraints in place with regards to the common grace that God gives to all the world, lost people cannot be expected to adhere to the same standards to purity and piety that Christians live out in the power of Christ. Christians should never need government censors to regulate their standards of behavior, for Christians are called to be set apart as a Holy nation that is not limited or defined by political laws and earthly borders.
In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:
Harmful Effect #17: The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)
*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.