The President of one of the largest evangelical Bible colleges in the US has signed a declaration calling America to reject a culture of censorship and to instead promote freedom of expression.
Dr Albert Mohler, of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was one of the first to put his name to ‘The Philadelphia Statement’, penned by a free speech group of the same name.
It describes itself as “a diverse working group of prominent thinkers, scholars, and practitioners” who believe it is important to “recommit to principles of freedom that inspire peaceful coexistence rather than division”.
Defend free speech
The Statement says freedom of expression “trains us to think critically, to defend our ideas, and, at the same time, to be considerate of others whose creeds and convictions differ from our own”.
It continues: “Common decency and free speech are being dismantled through the stigmatizing practice of blacklisting ideological opponents, which has taken on the conspicuous form of ‘hate’ labeling.
“Responsible organizations are castigated as ‘hate groups.’ Honest people of good faith are branded ‘hate agents.’ Even mainstream ideas are marginalized as ‘hate speech.'”
It concludes that American society “must renounce ideological blacklisting” and instead recommit “to steadfastly defending freedom of speech and passionately promoting robust civil discourse”.
Writing on Twitter, Dr Mohler announced: “The ‘Philadelphia Statement on Civil Discourse’ has been released. A call to resist cancel culture and embrace civil discourse. I signed it.”
In his recent book ‘The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture, and the Church’, the highly-respected preacher observed that the prevailing ‘blacklisting’ culture “claims to uphold human rights even as it undercuts any argument for human dignity and natural rights”.
He said such a culture “invents new rights (like same-sex marriage) at the expense of fundamental rights (such a religious liberty)”.
Free to disagree
In the UK, The Christian Institute recently helped launch the Free to Disagree campaign in Scotland, along with former SNP Deputy Leader Jim Sillars and the National Secular Society.
The campaign opposes ‘stirring up of hatred offences’ in the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, which would make behaviour claimed to be ‘abusive’ and ‘likely to stir up hatred’ a criminal offence.
The campaign is calling for the stirring up offences to be scrapped to protect freedom of expression.