For several years now we’ve been witnessing an increase in the number of instances in ‘the free world’ of the suppression of free speech and expression of those who support life, and of Christians in particular.
While we live in an age of such buzz words as ‘tolerance’, ‘acceptance’, ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’, the fact is only those who believe in traditional Christian and family values are expected to practise these principles, and must adapt to acceptance of abortion-on-demand, transgenderism and same-sex unions as normal and desirable.
Those who stand up for their values are increasingly vilified, ridiculed, silenced and even penalised.
Earlier this month, a high school student in Ohio, Gabby Heisinger, inspired by the many LGBT Pride posters all over the school compound, decided to put up some Bible verses on her own. For this she received an in-school suspension for “abuse of others, disrespect, and rudeness” because she put Bible verses up “targeting the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance)”.
Gabby pointed out to interviewers the school’s double standard whereby LGBT literature could be freely displayed, but not Christian literature. In addition, the gay club was featured in the school’s monthly news video, but the Christian clubs never were.
In Ireland, where abortion in certain circumstances became legal from January this year, Louth County passed legislation in February creating a buffer zone around abortion facilities, thus prohibiting pro-life vigils and preventing sidewalk counsellors from distributing pro-life literature to women seeking abortion services. Such buffer zones have been established around many abortion facilities in the USA and in England, and the counsellor who made the proposal hopes they will be instituted nationally.
These are just two examples of curtailment of free speech and expression.
But in a move that should not be surprising given the bold interventions by the UN secretariat and other Committees into areas not agreed upon by member states, the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, announced last month that the UN system is going after what he calls “hate speech”, which he says “is a menace to democratic values, social stability, and peace”.
He said that the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “belong to everyone, everywhere. They are independent of nationality, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, belief, or any other status”. This, despite the fact that there has been no agreement by member states to “sexual orientation” as a protected category of discrimination.
Guterres further said that he is concerned with speech which “stigmatises women, minorities, migrants, refugees, and any so-called ‘other’”, and wants speech stopped that he says presents false information about policy differences.
According to Austin Ruse of C-Fam, this seems to be following a trend: some governments in the European Union have banned certain types of speech; evangelical preachers have been hassled for preaching on public streets in parts of Great Britain; and two years ago, France made certain pro-life speech illegal.
Ruse pointed out experts are concerned that Guterres seems to agree that certain speech he deems wrong must be stamped out, and that he sees it as the role of the United Nations apparatus to silence it.
This is even more troubling, as Guterres has already initiated a number of reforms diminishing member states’ power and oversight over UN activity in their countries. Few put up any resistance.
Will we see member states forget the terms of the Charter and willingly yield their sovereignty to this world ‘authority’?
A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064;firstname.lastname@example.org