A review by Bill Muehlenberg.
Janet Folger’s book The Criminalization of Christianity (Multnomah 2005) makes for scary reading. The sad truth of the book is that there is a war going on, and family values are subject to a relentless and focused attack.
Many of us have been aware of some of the moves to silence believers, to push activist agendas, to stifle freedom and to straightjacket the churches. But to see all this information concentrated in a book which can be read in one sitting makes for sobering reading. The cumulative effect of the various assaults on faith, freedom and family, all assembled with full documentation in one volume, should challenge us all as to the very real war that is going on around us.
Many of us have been aware of the persecution of believers in countries such as China, North Korea and Sudan. It seems harder to believe that active persecution and suppression of the faith is happening in the “Christian” West. But that is indeed the case.
This book mainly documents the many attacks on faith and family occurring in North America, but the situation in Australia is quite similar. Horror story after horror story is laid out, documenting the very real anti-Christian assaults on our freedoms and our faith. Consider but a few examples.
— Believers in Philadelphia faced felony charges and jail time for simply quoting from the Bible in public.
— Two Christians (one heavily pregnant) were ordered off a bus and had to walk home in the rain because the driver said their discussion of their faith might “offend” other passengers on the bus.
— A student in Nebraska was prohibited from reading his Bible silently during his free time.
— A Canadian believer and print shop owner who declined to print homosexual material was found guilty of discrimination by the Ontario Human Rights Commission and fined $5000, which went to the homosexual group. He also now has to pay off a $170,000 legal fee.
— A group called American United for Separation of Church and State is sending people to churches to monitor sermons to see if there are any so-called church/state separation violations.
— In Quebec government officials removed a child from her Baptist family because “they might have unusual beliefs regarding child-rearing”.
— In a California town $500,000 of public money was spent on constructing a statue to an Aztec god. The Aztecs of course were notorious for their countless child sacrifices. While this was held to be a “cultural symbol,” the same council removed a nativity scene.
— The search engine Google recently banned an ad on a Christian group’s website because it was critical of homosexuality. It was branded by Google to be hate speech, even though the same search engine allows numerous explicit, hardcore homosexual ads.
— A pro-homosexual ordinance in Madison Wisconsin resulted in this outrage: Two women advertised for a roommate. When they declined to take in a lesbian, they were forced by the Equal Opportunity Commission to attend “sensitivity training”, pay the lesbian $1500, write a formal apology, and have their housing situation “monitored” for two years. One of the women said in tears that she felt like she was living in totalitarian China instead of democratic America.
— Also in Madison, 400 homosexual activists stormed a church service, shouting obscenities, urinating and defecating on the floor, and threatening worshippers.
Such examples can be multiplied at length. Every day new anti-faith outrages are taking place, and the obvious question to ask is: “How long before Christianity is outlawed altogether?”
As can be seen, many of these threats to religious freedom come by means of the homosexual activists. Indeed, the author pulls no punches in declaring that the “greatest threat to our freedoms comes from the homosexual agenda”. She is not alone in believing that many in the homosexual movement have as their ultimate goal the “criminalization of Christianity”.
But there are plenty of other threats to those concerned about faith and family. Radical civil libertarian groups, pro-abortion activists, and pornographers are a few more that come to mind. And the author has certainly been involved with these groups before, especially in her many years as a tireless pro-life campaigner. Indeed, her first book, True to Life, describes her remarkable work on behalf of the unborn.
Her first book contained a number of examples of how creative and thoughtful activities can be implemented to work for a culture of life. That same concern for pro-active strategies and tactics is found here. Janet Folger does not just highlight the war we are in, but also offers practical help in how we can win these battles.
A threefold plan of attack is laid out: working together; moving from defence to offence; and controlling the debate. We cannot just sit by and respond in only a defensive position: we must work together to tackle the issues pre-emptively and proactively. She ends her book by looking at how various successes already have been achieved, and how in this fight we must recognize the spiritual battle which is also taking place.
The job of any good prophet is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. And Janet Folger, in true prophetic fashion, manages to do both in this timely and important book. Those who have been involved in the culture wars will not find too much new material here. And some may question her concluding comments on the end times. But all should find a renewed hope and sense of calling to confront the many challenges we face. This vital wake-up call deserves a wide hearing.