Imagine a world where free speech is under assault at the very institutions dedicated to open dialogue and learning. Imagine a school where certain ideas inspire automatic hatred, and mobs slander a person’s character based on what he believes. Now open your eyes, because that world is here.
In a special one-day release, the movie “Free Speech Apocalypse“ will hit select theaters across America this Thursday. This film about the suppression of free speech and the eroding of America’s Christian values is sure to cause a stir, as it presents a timely and important view of the intolerance and vitriol which threaten to undermine our country’s very foundations.
Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay!
A crowd of angry students chant, “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Douglas Wilson, go away!” Douglas James Wilson, evangelical pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, and Senior Fellow of Theology at New Saint Andrews College, addressed a crowd at Indiana University on April 23, 2012. Footage from this event forms the centerpiece of the film, as rabid students shout Wilson down, ask impertinent questions, and protest outside, dancing crazily to raucous chanting.
“Douglas Wilson, you’re not welcome here!” one student shouts. “You believe slavery is ideal, women are inferior, gays deserve death or exile!” The students shout Wilson down, all the while declaring, “we respect free speech.” They justify their actions by calling Wilson’s presentation “hate speech.”
“It’s pure rage — it feels like a temper tantrum,” explains Benjamin R. Merkle, President and Fellow of Theology at New Saint Andrews College. Merkle called such protests “an assertion of raw power by claiming victimhood.”
In a telling scene, the movie presents student protestors using makeup to bolster the victimhood narrative. “We’re painting our faces as if we’ve been hit or harassed in some way,” one young man explains.
Wilson rationally lays out a Christian worldview to this rabid crowd, and they continually respond without even considering his words. One student begins his question by openly admitting he hadn’t listened to Wilson’s remarks.
Liberal ideology crushes free speech in other examples beyond the Indiana University speech. “The Free Speech Apocalypse” also features an interview with Aaron and Melissa Klein, cake shop owners who were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding ceremony. The denied couple claimed that the Kleins had “mentally raped” them, causing “loss of appetite” but “weight gain,” and both “insomnia” and oversleeping.
In addition to these central episodes, the film touches on the more questionable case of Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to any couple following the Supreme Court’s decision for gay marriage inObergefell v. Hodges. While she claims to be following her Christian conscience, many consider it her duty as an elected official to follow the law or resign from her post. The film seems to take her view on the matter.
Texas Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz makes an appearance, declaring, “This began when a handful of unelected judges decreed they knew better than the American people and they were going to write into the Constitution a right that doesn’t exist.” Another candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, also chimes in on abortion, explaining how the science disproves the idea that an unborn baby is “just a clump of cells.”
Abandoning The Christian Roots of Free Speech
Toward the film’s close, Wilson zeroes in on the fundamental struggle. He declares that, by rejecting America’s Christian heritage, “we’re throwing away our liberty, our right to speak freely.”
“Free speech, liberty of conscience, having a right to certain fundamental religious convictions, that came out of fundamental Christian convictions,” Wilson says. In an email statement to PJ Media, the pastor expounded further on the connection between Christian heritage and the ideals of a free society.
Wilson traced the ideas of free speech and liberty of conscience to the Reformation and “the early Reformation heritage of the American colonies.” Specifically, he pointed to John Milton’s defense of free speech in the “Areopagitica,” and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He suggested Douglas Kelly’s book The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World.
The major tenets of Christianity favor free will, the separation of Church and State, and a view of human beings made in God’s image. Jesus Christ’s suggestion to “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s” set up the more fundamental life with God as separate and above the concerns of the state, as discussed in St. Augustine’s The City of God.
Further, the idea that human beings are made in God’s image means that our minds are equipped with the ability to think God’s thoughts after Him – when it comes to scientific laws and to morality. These key notions helped build the bedrock for the liberties Americans enjoy.
The prosperous plant of modernity grew from the fertile soil of Christianity. “I believe that the Reformation was the time when many of these ideas came into their own,” Wilson explained. “But I don’t believe they started there. I regard this as the work of Christendom generally.”