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On Persecution, Freedom of Opinion, and Donald Sterling

April 29, 2014

Many American conservative Christians have been claiming that they are being more persecuted for their faith and have less freedom than they used to.  Their more moderate and progressive brothers and sisters in the faith  criticize this idea, asserting that Christians have considerable power and influence. Christians are not more persecuted, the status quo of what is popular has simply changed.  Claiming persecution cheapens the real persecution of Christians in the Middle East, East Asia, and elsewhere.  Considering how much some white Christians have oppressed African Americans in the name of the Bible in the past few centuries, claiming persecution sounds like a really bad joke.

I tend to hold a moderate or progressive stance on this one.   I do think that claiming persecution can make us look ignorant of intense persecution in other parts of the world.  However, I also observe that Americans, in general, have less freedom of opinion today than our founding fathers intended in the first amendment of the Constitution.

 Take for example, the reaction against Donald Sterling’s alleged comments that were horribly racist- you can read about it here. If he did make those comments, people SHOULD boycott his team’s games and shame his comments as much as possible, as they are.  It is right for the NAACP to reject his donations and retract their plans for giving him a lifetime achievement award.  

 What is scary to me is that people are also suggesting that he should not be allowed to own the LA Clippers anymore and should be thrown out of the NBA. I don’t know how the NBA ownership of teams works and if there are certain stipulations for ownership. Yet, in general, if we are in an age when people can lose their business property because of their opinions, no matter how right or wrong those opinions are, then I think we ALL – black or white, Christian or not – have less freedom than God intended for us, and that is not cool.  Not cool.

If freedom is America’s highest principle, than we need to respect the human rights even of those who express evil, racist opinions.  Because what popular culture sees as right or just is constantly changing through the decades and centuries.  Freedom of opinion or belief must be defended, because we could find ourselves losing our human rights if the tidal wave of popular opinion turns against our perspective.

If you disagree with me on this or have anything to add, I would welcome your comments on this page.

[Edit: A friend pointed out to me that Donald Sterling’s comments are more than an opinion, they are hate speech.  Worthwhile point.  But this begs the question… how do we deal with the blurry line between hate speech and prejudiced opinions expressed privately? I don’t know. Thoughts?]

[Update: Donald Sterling is being forced with sanctions to sell the team.  Given the context of the NBA, I think this is appropriate. Read about it here.]


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