Culture challenge of the week: Public blasphemy and disrespect
It's ironic. According to a recent poll, 87 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Christmas this year, with 3 percent celebrating Hanukkah and 4 percent celebrating Kwanzaa. Sixty-eight percent of Americans will mark these holidays by attending worship services. God is still very much a part of our lives and our celebrations.
And yet, celebrities, special-interest groups and entertainers sling verbal mud toward Christianity's sacred symbols all year long — desecrating sacred spaces, sacred books and the sacred name of God.
This past month, at the Black Entertainment Television Soul Train Awards, actor Jamie Foxx opened his comments by giving thanks and praise, not to God, but to President Obama, whom he called, "our Lord and Savior." His contempt for Christianity — mocking the title of the Son of God — drew little criticism from the liberal media.
In February, the entertainment elite ridiculed Catholics for protesting singer Nicki Minaj's blasphemous portrayal of religious rituals during her performance at the Grammy Awards. Not even a slap on the hand for Miss Minaj from the Recording Academy, whose spokesman explained, "We don't like to restrict artists' creative freedom."
During the campaign hype about the Republican war on women, Comedian Jon Stewart betrayed his own contempt for the Christmas miracle by showing an image of a Christmas manger between a naked woman's legs. From the radical feminist perspective, Christians who complained were being "misogynistic." Besides, the thinking goes, "This is America. We have a right to mock one another — even when it comes to religion." (Of course, that only seems to apply to Christians.)
And now, according to a report on prweb.com, some homosexual activists have published their own version of the Bible, with the mocking title, "The Queen James Bible." The editors assert that King James himself was bisexual and the new title honors that reality. Hogwash. The title reflects scornful self-absorption, and shows no respect for sacred Scripture or God himself. The hubris and mockery run deep as the "Queen James" eliminates Scripture-based criticism of homosexuality by editing passages "for interpretive clarity." The goal? To "prevent homophobic misinterpretation" that hurts the feelings of homosexuals.
Meanwhile, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times, atheists — and weak-kneed judges — have ruined Christmas for the folks of Santa Monica and other cities, through lawsuits and public intimidation tactics.
Where's the public outcry? Where's the protest from those defenders of the middle class, Catholic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Mormon Sen. Harry Reid, and our Christian President Barack Obama?
Middle-class Americans are, by and large, religious people. They believe in God and show respect for the sacred — whether it's the sacred symbols of our own faith or someone else's. So why don't our political leaders condemn these actions?
Perhaps it's because some mudslingers write big checks to Democratic campaigns. Or perhaps it's because some mudslingers hail from highly favored (at least by the liberals) "categories" of Americans, such as feminists, minorities and homosexuals. Or perhaps it's because we, the people, shrug and say nothing. I don't know.
What I do know is believers can do something to make a difference this Christmas.
How to save your family: Respect God and have reverence for his name
Religious people aren't asking for laws to abridge others' free speech, but we should expect that our leaders will help shape the public conversation toward an authentic respect for believers, God and the sacred symbols by which we worship. Our American tradition demands as much.
We also have a right to expect that our leaders will use the "bully pulpit" to rebuke the mudslingers who spew hatred at believers under the cover of art, entertainment or comedy. Otherwise, our constitutional guarantees of religious freedom soon will shrink to protect only our private worship, within the four walls of our homes or churches.
What should you do? Two things.
First, when nonbelievers throw mud, don't just clean up and go home. Call city hall. Use your voice and let our leaders know you expect them to speak out in defense of the rights of believers.
Second, have reverence for the name of God. Too often we Christians fail to show respect for our God, thoughtlessly or disrespectfully saying his name. That's a change we can — and should — make right now.
As Christmas approaches, let's bring glory to God, keeping in mind the words of Psalm 8: "Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"
• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.