Religious liberty & the theology of free speech

November 17, 2021

In recent years, headlines are increasingly focused on free speech, censorship, cancel culture, and even the U.S. Constitution itself. Each of these topics are vitally important and fundamentally interconnected—but how should Christians approach them? 

Brad Littlejohn, author and founder of The Davenant Institute, recently joined us on the Equip & Engage podcast to discuss the issue of religious liberty from a Christian theological perspective.

Episode at a glance

[3:00] What makes religious liberty a human and constitutional right? Brad unpacks the three layers of religious liberty:

  • Freedom of religious speech
  • Freedom to worship 
  • Freedom of religious practice

[6:28] What’s at stake if people are not concerned about these issues?

[12:00] Brad discusses the historical aspects of freedom of speech as a positive good, as well as being a result of limited government power. 

[18:04] It’s often easy to assume that the problems we’re facing are new—and sometimes that’s true, but sometimes it’s not. Brad explains what we can learn from free speech and the idea of “rights” from history. 

[21:41] What are the current and potential future consequences that come from viewing our freedom of speech and religious liberty as not derived from God, but rather as simply a collective human right given by society? 

[28:17] Brad once wrote, “In order to secure our moral right to speak truth, we generally need to defend a legal right that includes a right to speak falsehood.” If this is the case, how do we determine where the line is and how do we maintain a balance?

[35:23] How can churches think about the tools they choose to use to connect with their congregations when those tools are controlled by massive and monopolistic corporations like Google and Facebook? 

[41:14] Some churches have seen their on-demand content and live streams taken down for simply talking about Jesus, the crucifixion, resurrection, and other Christian themes. Is this going to become more common?

[44:33] Censorship seems to be a hot topic for many churches. How should Christians create a healthy and balanced perspective on this issue? 

[49:00] Pastors often feel caught in the crosshairs of social and political issues. How can pastors overcome the feeling of “walking on eggshells” with their congregations? 

Do you have the right tools to share your message freely?

Pastors have been through an incredibly challenging season. Many have seen their content removed or their congregations become disengaged as they spend more and more time within online environments like YouTube and Facebook, which can easily distract from—or even work directly against—your church’s mission. 

     “If Zoom decides, ‘We’re not going to allow any church services that violate our policy,’ there’s a great alternative to Zoom that’s been developed for Christians to use. That’s what we have to be looking towards as Christians in the modern West.”    

— Brad Littlejohn

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