[9]        Politics (3): Social Action

STORY: An 18th century British politician Edmund Burke wrote this famous quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” But this is exactly how today’s Christians act: do nothing and let secular humanists use social action to take over our society.

See the following ridiculous examples of social action by secular humanists. The Christian mayor of a Florida town proclaimed that Satan is banned within the town limits. The ACLU threatened to sue her unless she retracted her proclamation.

The Boy Scouts in US publicly banned homosexuals as members or scout leaders. The ACLU and homosexual groups sued them and tried to force them out of all schools unless they abandoned their restriction. In 2000, the lawsuit reached the US Supreme Court which ruled that the Boy Scouts have the constitutional right to such restriction. Even after the ruling, the ACLU continued to pressure school boards across the US to expel the Boy Scouts.

The Christian mayor of London, Ontario refused the application for a gay parade because she argued that her policy was not to allow parade of any kind. She was sued and fined by the Human Rights Commission.

While secular humanists use social action to suppress and defame Christians, many Christians believe that our job is only to spread the gospel and we should never be involved in any social action. What do you think?

Background:

There are many anti-Christian organizations in North America employing legal terrorism to suppress Christian influence in the public square. With the help of liberal judges, they have won numerous legal battles. In the US, conservative judges have a bare 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court which acts as the last line of defence against radical secularization. In Canada, the Supreme Court is dominated by liberal judges which have pulled the Canadian society into faster and more extreme secularization. Meanwhile, Christians retreat again and again without any defence.

Rev. Greg Bailey, national director of the Canadian Bible Society said in 1999, “The rights of the Christian community (are) being lifted from us. If we don’t put up a protest, those rights will disappear into history.”

42.  What is social justice? What is social action?

a.   The term “social justice” is not found in the Bible but God commands believers to seek justice in the society (Amos 5:24).

b.   The Bible specifically refers to 2 kinds of social justice:

(1)  legal justice in courts (Ex 23:6; Lev 19:15; Dt 16:19; Am 5:12,14) – due process and equal protection (absolute impartiality and strict fairness)

(2)  no exploitation or oppression of the underprivileged by the rich and the powerful (Ex 22:22-24; Pr 14:31; Dt 24:17; Mal 3:5) – proper standards in commerce and employment, such as fair wages

c.   There are 2 ways to achieve social justice:

(1)  Social assistance: the philanthropic activity to relieve human basic needs such as food and clothing

(2)  Social action is the sociopolitical activity to effect changes in social institutions such as the government.

·         In 1982, a group of evangelical leaders encouraged Christians to use both ways.

d.   Modern usage of the term:

·         In modern times, “social justice” has been broadened to include any pursuit of fairness and equality which unfortunately are based on secular standards. For secular humanists, “social justice” becomes synonymous with the expansion of a wide range of human rights. For example, the quest for reproductive rights ended in the legalization of abortion. The quest for sexual rights ended in the approaching legalization of homosexual marriage. In the name of social justice and the excuse of the need to be fair, immoral behaviour is being justified and legalized.

·         A good term has now been corrupted by its usage in a bad way. Therefore, Christians should not accept any claim of “social justice” without discernment. Christians’ definition of social justice is based on the righteousness of God and is vastly different from the definition of secular humanists.

Terms that require the hoisting of mental cautionary red flags

social justice, progress, progressive, fairness, equality, rights, tolerance, diversity, pluralism

43.  Should Christians participate in social action?

a.   Christians are called to be salt and light of the world (Mt 5:13-16). Therefore, we have a duty to oppose degrading influences in our society (2Pe 2:4-10) when the government (or other social institutions) acts against moral principles (Isa 10:1-2; Am 5:11-12) such as:

o        writing immoral laws (legalizing same-sex marriage)

o        implementing immoral policies (taxing married couples more than cohibiting couples)

o        financing immoral programs (using tax money to subsidize radical feminist organizations)

b.   Participation:

·         In a democracy, one effective way to oppose the powerful government is to participate in social action.

·         The local church can participate in social action only to defend the Biblical standard. It can speak through Christian organizations such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). It can also encourage church members to participate in social action.

·         Individual Christians can participate more freely but they should follow God’s guidance.

c.   Types of social action:

(1)  Communication: expressing personal or corporate (group such as church) opinions through the use of mass media (such as TV or newspaper), meeting with politicians, lobbying legislators with petitions or letter campaigns,

(2)  Organized sociopolitical action:

o        public demonstrations and rallies: to show the unity and strength of opposition

o        block voting: to coordinate voting and elect likeminded politicians

o        civil disobedience: to disobey and protest against government laws or orders

d.   Civil disobedience:

(1)  Actions include boycotts, tax revolt (refuse to pay tax), strikes; the most extreme action is revolution.

(2)  Although the Bible contains examples of civil disobedience (Ex 1:15-21; Esther 4; Da 1; 3; 6; Ac 5:29), it may lead to disrespect for the law and may cause anarchy.

(3)  Christians must be careful and may participate only if:

o        The law or institution is truly unjust or immoral.

o        No clandestine activities are involved.

o        The participants are willing to accept the penalty for such action.

(4)  Revolution is an attempt to make a radical change in the system of government. Armed rebellion is revolution involving violence. Some Christians oppose to any kind of revolution arguing that God, as the only providential judge in history, is the only one to ovethrow government (Da 2:21). Others believe that revolutions can be just in extreme circumstances. Arguments appear to be reasonable on both sides.

(5)  The criteria of “just revolution” are similar to “just war”:

o        The call to revolt is issued by lawful authority (Jdg 6: God called Gideon to revolution and Gideon became the legitimate authority); the decision to legitimacy may be based on the extent of support among citizens.

o        With justice: a just cause when the government persistently threatens or kills innocent people and rewards the corrupted.

o        With limits: rebellion as the last resort, use of right means, the good achieved greater than evil effects of violence.

o        With hope: with reasonable probability of success.

44.  What are the barriers to Christian involvement in social action?

·         Success from Christian social action is rare because of many reasons.

a.   Lack of interest:

·         Three decades ago, evangelical churches were seldom involved in social action because of two reasons. First, it was a reaction against liberal theology and “social gospel” of the early 20th century. Second, evangelicals believe that the world is irredeemable and can only be changed with the Second Coming of Christ.

·         It is true that the world is not yet in that eventual kingdom (Heb 2:8) which will only arrive in the future when Jesus returns. But the question is: wouldn’t God wish to see a more just and more peaceful world now?

·         The result was general pessimism towards any attempts in changing the society. However, such attitudes began to change after the 1974 when the “Lusanne Covenant”  affirms that “evangelism and sociopolitical involvement are both part of our Christian duty.” They are not incompatible and are both important.

b.   Influenced of secular slogans (such as “separation of church and state”, see above) which some undiscerning Christians buy into.

c.   Barriers created by Christians:

·         Regrettably, Christians (though well-intentioned) are creating barriers ourselves to make other Christians falter. They are in fact cooperating with the secular humanists in silencing Christians.

·         Edmund Burke (1729-1797) had this famous saying: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” A variation of this saying: All that is necessary for Satan to take over our society is that Christians do not resist. In action in the face of evil is as much a sin as wrongdoing (Jas 4:17).

·         Here are some of those barriers:

(1)  The mission of the church is evangelization, not social action. The church and Christians should never waste any energy influencing the government.
[BUT: The mission of the church is to extend the kingdom of God. Being salt of the earth includes influencing and changing the secular culture. The advance of secularism only results in greater psychological barriers to the gospel.]
(2)  Individual Christians can participate in social action but a church must not allow any social action within the boundary of the church. Some pastors prohibit even the distribution of information on social action.
[BUT: If the majority of Christians are kept ignorant of the immorality that happens in our society, how can they be involved in stopping the advance of secularism?]
(3)  The church must not involve in politics, not even opposing ungodly laws drafted by the government.
[BUT: If the government openly encourages our children to take illicit drugs, should we shut up and let our children be influenced by this policy?]
(4)  Only God has the power to change history. Human social action is a waste of energy. Christians should be involved only in prayer. If Christians are concerned about the government, they should only pray.
[BUT: We are called to be salt of the world, meaning action is required; if not, why were we taught to spread the gospel since God can always do everything? Can we say: If Christians are concerned about the souls of non-believers, we should simply pray and not do anything?]
(5)  Christians do not use political and legal means to force others into our own moral standards.
[BUT: God’s moral standard is for the good of the society. What if the government tells all churches that either they never condemn sins like homosexuality or they will not be allowed to be registered? What if we are forced into accepting or affirming an anti-God position?]
(6)  Social action must not be based on a single issue.
[BUT: While this is normally true, it is also likely that a single issue can indicate broad position of many similar issues, e.g. a pro-family politician opposing homosexual marriage will hold positions similar to the Bible in many different issues. Further, “pro-choice” people always use single issue to influence the political process. The “single issue” argument is effectively tying our hands before the battle. Again, what if someone openly advocates that the Bible be banned as hate literature? Should we still not act because it is just one issue?]

d.   Some Christians may have the illusion that whatever happens in the society may not affect them. Yet, this illusion is far from reality. What happens in the society will likely affect our lives and almost certainly affect our children’s lives. When homosexuality is taught in the schools, we can be sure that more of our children will become homosexuals.

45.  Does Christian social action make a difference?

a.   In the US, block voting coordiated by Christian organizations such as the Christian Coalition has elected many pro-life politicians since 1994. Since 2000, the US has been governed by a pro-life evangelical president George W. Bush and Republican majorities in both houses of the Congress. [In the latest federal election in 2002, many openly pro-life politicians were unexpectedly elected.]

b.   The result is a great reversal in US social policies.

·         Clinton was the most anti-life president in US history. He supports abortion. He twice vetoed the partial birth legislation passed by the Congress. He tried to force the military to accept openly homosexual people but failed. He increased grants to “pro-choice” organizations and supported the radical feminist position in world conferences. He openly boasted that he would only appoint judges who support abortion.

Church attendance and voting

A 2003 survey in US shows that two-thirds of those who attend church one or more per week voted for the Republicans in the 2002 federal election. Within this group, over 90% of Caucasians and Asian Christians (excluding blacks and Hispanics) voted Republican (mostly conservative and pro-life). Of those who seldom or never attend church, two-thirds voted for the Democrats (mostly liberal and “pro-choice”.)

·         In contrast, President George W. Bush professes his faith in every speech. He restricted grants to international organizations that promote abortions. He promotes religious expressions in education. He banned human cloning and allowed research only on adult stem cells. He supported and signed the legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions. He increases grants to abstinence-based sex education. He set aside $300 million for an initiative to promote marriage. He nominated pro-life judges (though many of them were blocked by Democrat Senators just because of their belief). In international conferences, the US delegation is now on the pro-life side and is opposite to secular humanist delegations sent from Canada and Australia.

·         The appointments of pro-life judges in the US Supreme Court by Presidents Reagan and Bush Senior have great impact on court rulings in the US. Many of the liberal court rulings have been reversed by the relatively conservative US Supreme Court, including decisions on euthanasia, Bible clubs in schools, Boy Scouts against homosexual leaders.

c.   In Canada:

·         There are organizations that participate in social action, such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC). But because Canadians are much more secular and much less sensitive about socio-cultural issues, there has seldom been any political impact. The government has long been favouring “pro-choice” groups and “pro-choice” causes and has ignored all pro-life letter and petition campaigns.

·         Recently, because of the government’s push for homosexual legislations, Canadians, especially Christians, have expressed their concerns through public prayer vigils and demonstrtions such as the one on the Parliament Hill on August 22, 2003 led by thousands of Chinese Christians.

·         Canadian Supreme Court has been dominated for many decades with liberal pro-secular judges appointed by the Liberal Party. They will only lend support to anti-family and anti-life legislations proposed by the government.

d.   There are successful social impact despite events in the political and legal fronts:

·         Education campaigns on the evil of abortions have reduced the proportion of people supporting abortion.

·         Education and campaigns for abstinence before marriage have significantly reduced the proportion of sexually-active teenagers.

·         Public opposition of homosexual marriage has reduced public support for homosexual marriage. Although many of the Democratic presidential candidates support homosexual marriage in private, none of them dared to openly support it.