Christians' Munich Moment in California
Scarcely any moment in American history is as important for America's Christians as the developing crises over religious freedom now happening in California.
The legislature of Sacramento not only is underhandedly banning books opposed to the doctrines of the transgender religion (including the Bible), but also has threatened Christians' rights to free assembly and freedom of speech.
According to its website, Summit Ministries, an organization devoted to advising Christian youths on how to live out a Christian worldview, has canceled its scheduled appearances at Biola University in Los Angeles "due to concerns that California will forbid some of what it teaches."
Summit's concern is real.
The fact is that California is about to make into law A.B. 2943, a bill recently passed by the state Assembly and probably soon to be ratified by the state Senate. The proposed law seeks to punish by fines and penalties any goods and services and services "offering to engage in or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual," claiming that such efforts constitute deceptive business practices.
Summit's president, Jeff Myers, explains the dangers for Christians:
Summit's program helps students develop an intelligent, defensible Christian worldview before they go to college. Our speakers are leading Christian experts who base their presentations on theology as well as sociology, psychology and science. But the wording of #AB2943 is a dog whistle to the left that intelligent Christians holding traditional views are fair game for discrimination, smears and frivolous lawsuits.
Myers believes that Summit's outreach efforts would be strangled by the passage of the law because his organization defends traditional man-woman marriage and biblical concepts concerning sexual behavior. It would basically jettison counseling for those Christian students troubled by confusion over gender identity and same-sex attraction.
What are we going to say to a young person experiencing sexual confusion? That the state of California forbids us from allowing a biblical ethic embraced by billions of people for thousands of years to inform our answer?
California state authorities are hijacking good-faith concerns about reparative therapy to deny constitutional protection to those who hold traditional views of sexuality and marriage. We cannot and will not bend God's truth to accommodate the state of California."
So far, so good. Myers is correct.
However, Myers's and Summit Ministries' response to the challenges presented by California's legislature is rather alarming.
For one thing, the site's headline is misleading: "California Bill Banning Biblical Views on Sexual Identity Forces Christian Group to Cancel Young Adult Conference."
Summit has not been forced by California to cancel. Summit Ministries has chosen to cancel. It have chosen not to fight.
The answer (italics mine): "Summit will move ahead with its planned conferences this summer in Colorado, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. But the very real possibility that it could face costly legal action simply for endeavoring to steep students in biblically informed truth is an unfortunate bridge too far."
In other words, the possibility of legal action was enough to make Summit leaders decamp, flee, run away, desert the field.
And the reason for not standing and fighting? Myers continues:
We are grieved that it has come to this, but we simply cannot put our students, staff and faculty at risk. We are still free to present our conferences in 49 states – and we are grateful for that. Now is the time for Californians to rise up and challenge their representatives to respect biblical values. To that end, we're doing everything we can to mobilize our California alumni to exercise their power as citizens and work to prevent this bill from becoming law.
And, of course, we continue to pray for our many friends and partner organizations in California, that they would see common-sense governance restored to their state.
The fact is that Summit Ministries is still free to speak in California. But Myers's words indicate that he and Summit just don't want the pushback. They don't want the fight. They don't want to pay the price.
The reluctance to fight is in some ways understandable because of the high-profile examples of the Christians whose businesses and lives have been destroyed by radicals of the LGBT movement. Even big fish like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A have been threatened because their managers have dared to stand up for the Christian view of marriage.
Moreover, many times, fellow Christians do not come to the support of other Christians who are attacked.
However, despite legitimate reservations, resistance rather than flight is called for. Summit is not based in countries like the former Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany – at least not yet. Summit still has recourse in the republic that is the United States of America. The organization has not yet resisted to the point of blood. In fact, it has not resisted at all.
The organization's decampment from the fray has left fellow Christians, including Christian students at Biola, to face the fights in California alone. By abandoning California's Christians and opting for peace in its time, Summit doubtless has subjected Christians to inevitably increased persecution – and not just for transgressing the latest transgender ideological agenda, but for myriad reasons having to do with the practice of Christian ethics.
Further, President Myers exhorts those he's left behind to continue fighting for "common sense to prevail in the California legislature." After those he's left behind have done the work and taken back their rights as U.S. citizens, then might Myers and Summit come back?
If only Myers and Summit had stood and fought, they may have helped fellow Californian Christians who are under siege concerning free speech, free association, and freedom of religion and religious practice.
Where in Summit's Christian theology is the example of Peter? Since when has proclaiming the message of Christianity been low-risk? The apostle Peter, having been hauled in by the powers that be for preaching about Christ, was told he was under strict orders not to teach the Christian message. But as the book of Acts relates, "Peter and the other apostles replied, 'We must obey God rather than men.'"
Summit apparently preferred the Munich solution. It preferred peace in our time. But by capitulating to the state's threat, Summit Ministries has made the battles California's Christians face even harder. The heat will inevitably be turned up on churches and ministries that teach Christian morality.
The truth is that Summit's capitulation almost ensures there will be no peace for Christians in California. Unfortunately, the next battles to be won or lost also will have the odor of Summit's capitulation and defeat, no matter which state Summit flees to for refuge.
Alas, the Christian church in America is generally as weak as Summit has shown itself to be in the face of opposition to its God-given constitutional rights. She is almost constantly capitulating while preoccupied with attacking other Christians. She is far too subject to think herself safe in her subculture bubble, constantly retreating into a non-relevance auguring the first step into nonexistence. Meanwhile, she is too often leaving the mighty but outnumbered 144,000 to fight the onslaught alone.
The American church, for the sake of the Christians among her and for the sake of those outside her walls – their freedoms are also threatened – must wake up and take up the motto, "We have not yet begun to fight."
Fay Voshell holds an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. She is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her thoughts have appeared in many other online magazines, including National Review, RealClearReligion, CNS, and LifeSiteNews. She may be reached at email@example.com.