The United States of America was founded upon Christian principles, and throughout the history of our nation our Christian heritage has been respected by our government officials, until the middle of the Twentieth Century. Since that time Christianity has come under increasing attack from government officials at all levels, but particularly from those in our national government. To put this trend in perspective, we invited to our conference Dr. Frank Wright who is the president of the National Religious Broadcasters. As such he is on the firing line in the battle to protect freedom of expression for American Christians. For 25 years he worked with the ministry of Dr. James Kennedy. Dr. Wright's topic at our conference was "The Challenge of Government" (watch).
Step #6: Restrict Your Ability to Advance Your Viewpoint
Ad hominine attacks are followed by something far more ominous, and I believe that's exactly where we are today. The next step in the Politics of Opposition is to restrict your ability to advance your viewpoint.
A dramatic example of this comes from the world of broadcasting. It's the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which I won't go into a lot of detail about it except to say that the government in days past looked at the limited spectrum available for broadcast and said, "You know, we have a compelling government interest to insure that every viewpoint is heard." And so, the Fairness Doctrine is kind of an equal time requirement. If you advocate on a position of substantial public importance — an idea that was deemed to be controversial — then you had to make equal time available for an opposing viewpoint. That doctrine reigned in radio and television for 30 or 40 years before it was repealed, but there have been repeated attempts to bring it back. Even though it's sort of struggling in our day because its opponents have been successful in labeling it a policy not worthy of support in light of our free speech protections, it still seems to rear its ugly head over and over again.
By the way, I hope you can hear the two problems with the Fairness Doctrine. The first is on determining matters of substantial public importance, and secondly on determining what's a controversial viewpoint. Who makes this determination as to which matters are of substantial public importance? The government does. Who decides that your viewpoint is controversial? The government. And so, you have the government so controlling the marketplace of ideas that your viewpoint is restricted because you have to give up half your time to make opposing viewpoints heard as well.
Now, I will say that back in the day of limited spectrum with what the FCC calls "spectrum scarcity," this might have been a reasonable public policy at one point, but today with radio, television, satellite, wireless, cable and all the other means of distributing content electronically, you cannot argue that there is spectrum scarcity. Nor can you argue that there's even a viewpoint that's not being heard because of all of these media.
And so, the Fairness Doctrine has been widely discredited. But, you need to understand what it is at its essence — it's an effort to restrict your ability to proclaim the things that you believe are true. It's declaring Christianity to be controversial, and having made that declaration, who is not waiting in line from the ranks of Islam, or Eastern Mysticism, or rank paganism, to say, "I have an opposing viewpoint and so I would like to bring my opposing viewpoint to your TV show or radio program or whatnot."
By the way, which doctrine of the Christian Church is not controversial anyway? Might that be the deity of Jesus Christ? No, everybody agrees on that. Oh, wait a minute, no, they don't. How about the Resurrection of Jesus? How about the Virgin Birth? Pick any Christian doctrine you can think of and someone is going to say, "I find that to be controversial and I demand equal time."
So, you can see what they are trying to do with the Fairness Doctrine. It's purpose is to squelch you. It's an effort to restrict your ability to communicate and to constrain your ability to speak truth into the marketplace of ideas.
Step #7: Aggressive Effort to Legally Prohibit Your Views
Finally, in our seven steps into the Politics of Opposition, number seven after the efforts to constrain your freedom to express your ideas is followed closely by an aggressive effort to legally prohibit them. That's what stands immediately in front of us in our generation. Here the force of law is applied to stop you and give warning to others who might be of like mind to you. The recently enacted Hate Crimes legislation is the very tool that they will use to accomplish that end.
So, let me recapitulate here if I may the seven steps in the Politics of Opposition. First you are ignored. Then you are marginalized. Then the veracity of your argument and the factual basis is challenged. Next you are attacked personally, not your veracity by your integrity. Then you are restricted in your ability to advance you ideas. And, finally, you are prohibited from promoting the ideas that you hold as truth.
In the last part on the challenge of government, Dr. Wright shows how we can counter the Politics of Opposition, turning evil into good.