Defeating Discrimination: What California Can Learn from the Netherlands


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This week, three newspaper articles give a sobering glimpse into one of the most ironic battles facing our country today.

In the first article, the New York Times cites a recent finding from the Government Accountability Office: US taxpayers are still unwittingly contributing $500 million per year to the nation’s largest abortion provider. 

The second article includes an excerpt from the Center for Disease Control, reminding us that of the 20 million (!) sexually transmitted diseases that will fill the charts in US doctors’ offices this year, nearly 50% of them—almost 10 million STDs—will be contracted by those aged 15 to 24. That’s right, teens and young adults make up almost half of all new sexually transmitted disease cases each year right here in America.

The third article puts it all into perspective. Quickly climbing the charts in California is a little beauty known as Senate Bill 1146, a movement that threatens to eradicate the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in the state of California. After successfully annihilating the compass of right and wrong in the public school system, our senate now has its sights set on the Christian university system.

Don’t miss the irony here. It’s all related.

We pull funding and cultural support away from Christian institutions and pour it instead into abortion providers, morally deficient schools, and bastions of secular humanism, and we wonder. We wonder why 1 in 5 students is cutting or burning themselves on purpose. We wonder why the leading cause of death for Black and Hispanic youth in America is homicide. We wonder why our country has one of the highest rates of abortions in the developed world. We wonder why our 15 to 24 year olds are not only highly infected but highly oversexualized. We wonder why Christianity now seems so irrelevant to the most populous state in the country that a senator is pushing for its full eradication.

The dissection of moral absolutes from the public sphere has caused complete and utter anarchy throughout the system. Because we have removed the discussion of right and wrong, even of beneficial and nonbeneficial, from the public conversation, our young people have no moral compass to guide their decision-making process.

Do we have the right to choose for ourselves life or death, blessing or cursing? Absolutely. We were created with a free will. Additionally, we also have a nifty little clause called the First Amendment that should (in theory) protect our freedom to talk with hurting and confused people about their life decisions so that they can make their own fully educated choices. As grownups in a democratic nation, we should be able to express—without fear of being gunned down—the psychological, emotional, and physiological dangers of living outside the protective boundaries that are inherent to the Christian worldview.

If we truly value freedom of speech, wouldn’t we allow all voices into the marketplace and then actually give people the freedom to make an educated decision based on all the facts? Isn’t that the freedom of speech and thought we should expect in America? Apparently not. Our financial systems fund morally averse programming while punishing the Christian institutions that teach abstinence, value, human dignity, and personal worth—the foundational personal values that can actually protect against rampant promiscuity and violence in the first place.

So maybe it’s time we put our money where our mouth is.

Though you might not expect a liberal, socialist country like the Netherlands to serve as a glowing beacon of religious freedom, we might have something to learn from a similar battle the Dutch people faced. When national education was introduced in the Netherlands in 1800, citizens were offered a standard secular curriculum. But in 1848, the religious community protested the lack of religious compulsory education in the state system. These religious groups then fought for their right to have fair representation on the scholastic home front. After a lengthy debate, the Dutch government decided that the best way to fairly represent all of its citizens would be to fund all education equally, religious or secular. The program was formalized in 1917 and continues to this day.

Can you imagine a country where the dissident voices are permitted to have their own opinions? Where differences in thought actually foster civil discourse (and personal growth) in the public square? Can you imagine a place where you could become an objective and informed citizen by reading media sources that fairly and accurately represented both sides of a public debate? Can you imagine a country where you wouldn’t be called a “hater” simply because your views are different from someone else’s views?

If we don’t address our issues as individuals and as a nation, if we keep plugging our ears and hiding away in our safe spaces, we will never develop a coherent narrative. We will never be challenged to know why we believe what we believe. We will not get better by ignoring our problems; we will only become more embittered, more vengeful, more divided.

In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln declared that America is a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” Today, we are witnessing the sobering evolution of a government that is of the government, by the government, and for the government. How does a California state senator have the right to decide what the rest of us can and can’t believe? When did politicians, lobbyists, and entertainers gain so much power that they can rewrite ideologies that have been part of our nation’s identity for hundreds of years? As George Yancey (2016) says, the real discrimination in education is the lack of faith representation: Secular colleges are now, and have been, overtly discriminating against Christians for over four decades.  

Let’s be clear: The reason Christian schools are being targeted isn’t because we are underperforming. We aren’t. It isn’t because we aren’t making a powerful difference in the lives of students and their communities. We are. (In fact Christian schools are often known to accept the downtrodden, the broken, the hopeless—even those kicked out of other schools—to help them find hope and healing.) It isn’t because we don’t endure the exact same rigorous accreditation process as our secular scholastic neighbors. It isn’t because our students aren’t getting into graduate schools. It isn’t because our faculty members aren’t qualified. The real reason Christian schools are being targeted is because we’re Christian.

As Dr. Jackson (2016) notes, SB 1146 “is an attempt to throttle, to silence, to disempower, to marginalize Christians.” And we need to take responsibility. Collectively, as Americans, we have allowed the foundation for this bill to be poured in a slow-curing cement: We buried our heads in the sand in the 1970s when the Values Clarification Movement swept through our nation’s public school systems, outlawing discussions on right and wrong and effectively reducing the classrooms to chambers of moral relativism. We stood by limply when law after law undermined parental authority, increasing the power of the state.  And, let’s face it, many Christian families, instead of supporting K to college Christian education, sent their kids to the very institutions that continually berate, undermine, and oppress the Christian faith. As CS Lewis said, “We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Here’s how I think we got to this point. The 51.1 million K -12 students and the 14 million college students that are sitting in public (i.e., government) schools right now are being indoctrinated every day. They’re not allowed to pray, to talk about God, to share Bible verses, to disciple others. In some cases, they aren’t even allowed to have a Christian group on campus after school—unless the club is directed by a non-Christian leader. Seriously?

Compartmentalizing one’s faith has become a way of life, acceptable, normal.

This ongoing religious discrimination has fostered a culture of indignation that bristles with any opinion different from its own. Anyone who dares to speak a divergent view is quickly ushered off campus, while the victims of this dangerous divergent-thought-exposure are ushered into safe spaces to color, blow bubbles, and watch videos of frolicking puppies until their minds return to an appropriate state of numbness.

As Christians, it is the element of free speech, the freedom to speak in grace and truth, that we must protect. Without it, we can’t instruct, train up, speak up, and certainly, we can’t fulfill the Great Commission. When the rulers of the day commanded Peter and John to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-19), what did they say? Judge for yourself what’s right in God’s eyes: to follow God or government.  

If we really want to preserve freedom of speech and freedom of religion, if we want to engage in civil discourse, if we are willing to stop hiding in our safe spaces to block out the noise of dissidence (and its cousin, the voice of reason), then action is needed. Perhaps, instead of shackling the private university system with unreasonable and unconstitutional demands, the government needs to release its role of Huxlian thought control and fund all programs equally—secular or religious. As Americans, we can decide for ourselves what kind of education we want, thank you very much.

That, I think, would be one powerful step in returning our country to its rightful representation of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

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