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Cancel culture is all the rage these days. Cancel culture refers to the practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies that have been deemed to have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. This is probably seen more prominently as a form of group shaming on social media, but has resulted in people losing jobs, entertainers being banned from performing, T.V. shows and movies being taken off the air, companies being boycotted, politicians being run out of office, and speakers being banned from speaking on college campuses. Recently, cancel culture came to the U.S. military.
The U.S. Marine Corps often does training for its soldiers, and they have one particular annual training for JAG reservists. This year’s training was to feature Air Force veteran Jay Lorenzen speaking on the topic of leadership. The title of one of his presentations was “Leadership Principles Drawn from the Physical Battlefield That Have Application to Other Arenas,” while the other two were called “Leaders Learn the Language of Leadership.”
As it turns out, Lorenzen is a Christian, and often does leadership training for Christian groups in addition to his military presentations. While his training for the Marine Corps contained no specific Christian content, Michael Weinstein heard about Lorenzen’s presentation and called the Department of Defense to have the presentation cancelled. Weinstein maintained that the Marine Corp’s session was unconstitutional because the speaker was a Christian. And not only that, he also called for the officials involved in planning the session to receive “visible and aggressive punishment.” He went on to say that their actions were a “complete disgrace in violation of the constitutional prohibition against establishing religion,” as well as against military policy. After Weinstien’s call, the Department of Defense cancelled Lorenzen’s presentation – seemingly buying into the false charges. The only problem is, Lorenzen’s presentation was not a Christian talk, and the cancellation was based on a false allegation.
Weinstein is the head of the “Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a militant Atheist organization dedicated to eliminating all Christian influence from the military. He has a long history of working to eliminate any kind of Christian influence from the military, the military academies, and of harassing the chaplain’s corps.
This incident has received some pretty high profile push back, and I feel quite certain that ultimately it will be the ones who cancelled the program, rather than those who scheduled it, who will feel the discipline. At least up until now, injustices such as this, when they are exposed, tend to get corrected. But that is almost beside the point. How can it be that Christians are being harassed like this? What is behind it all?
Big picture wise, the culprit is the increasing prominence, and dominance, of naturalistic beliefs in modern society. Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe is all that exists. Out in public, it portrays itself as non-religious, and tries to get “religion” pushed out of the public square under the pretense that the Constitution demands “separation of church and state.” The problem is, though, “separation of church and state” is not a in the U.S. Constitution. The first amendment does have a religion clause in it, but the clause limits the government’s ability to establish religion or inhibit its practice. It specifically does not limit a Christian’s ability to express their faith in the public square.
But as outrageous as this incident is, there is actually something even more repugnant. Naturalism is, itself, a belief system – a religious system. In spite of the fact that Weinstein, and others of his ilk, try to pawn their beliefs off as a “lack of religion,” he really follows a very distinct religious belief system. What he is actually attempting to do is to substitute his atheistic religious beliefs for those he disagrees with. These days, using the tactics of the cancel culture seems to be his tool of choice for accomplishing that goal.
As I mentioned above, I believe we are still at a place where right will ultimately prevail in this case. But these kinds of instances are happening more frequently. Christians better get up to speed on dealing with this kind of religious attack, or we will ultimately come to a place where Christians are shut down altogether.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
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