It seems rather fitting that the Standing for Freedom Center is hosting its 2021 Freedom Uncensored Summit to promote and advance “Uncommon Courage in Unvirtuous Times” right on the heels of Veterans Day.
Fitting because the entire event is aimed, with laser-like focus, at preserving and promoting the freedoms for which our valiant veterans have fought and died to defend. Those “first freedoms” like the rights to life, speech, religious liberty, and to bear arms, as well as the rights to due process, property, and responsive political representation. The inalienable right of all Americans, endowed by their God, to speak their mind, without fear of censorship.
Throughout our history, we have never failed to defend these freedoms and ideas with American blood, bullets, and treasure in wars fought overseas against foreign enemies. Those fights are the realm and the responsibility of the United States Armed Forces.
But not every battle for freedom happens offshore. There are wars that we must fight in between our two shining seas, here on our home soil and across our amber waves of grain. These are the battles of ideas — and these conflicts, when they arise, are ultimately what will determine whether or not we as a nation will endure the test of time. As Abraham Lincoln once (possibly) said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves from within.”
We do not fight these fights with steel, but with speech. We enjoin these battles with the arsenal of eternal principles expressed in lasting ideas. Therefore, preserving a public square in which we are free to make the case for our freedoms is critical, because history teaches this loud and clear: When the speaking stops, the firing starts.
This is the question at hand, the burden of every generation: Will the United States continue on as the paragon of Western civilization? Will we remain a land full of citizens serving collectively as the sovereign, and not a land ruled over by a singular sovereign wearing a crown and subjugating its people like peasants? In 1776 the rugged inhabitants of the burgeoning American colonies, less royal and more redneck, rose up and shattered the crown that sought to dominate them and deny them representation into a million tiny pieces, consigning monarchial rule in these free states to the ash heap of history. And ever since, Americans have maintained constant vigilance against those who would reforge it, re-wear it, and re-wield it against the patriots of this grand old republic.
At its birth, the United States did something that truly had never been done before. It, for the first time, made physically manifest the liberty-infused political philosophies of some of the brightest thinkers of their era: Smith, Paine, Locke, etc. Our Founding Fathers took their lines of thought, took their defense of inalienable rights, and inked them into lines on a page, the pages of the Declaration of Independence. They sparked the battle that we now join over 250 years later with these thundering words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Now, the current of time that has carried our nation down the river of history since its founding has not always been irenic, but often turbulent and rough. We failed, as a nation, to secure these rights for many of our brothers and sisters here on our soil, eventually fighting a bloody Civil War to free the slaves and, under Lincoln’s leadership, to finally welcome them into the glories of citizenship.
Despite the troubles within, American-style freedoms flourished and grew around the globe for many, many decades. The United States stoked the flames of liberty, shining its light and pushing the envelope on previously unthinkable and unattainable ideas of individual empowerment, democracy, and republican, representational government.
Unfortunately, as we moved into the latter half of the 20th century, these ideals — liberty, unalienable rights, religious freedom, national self-determination — came under the most fierce and fearsome onslaught they had faced yet. Up from the foundations of modernity there was renewed a fight between two entirely antithetical ideas, between worldviews as incompatible as light and darkness. It’s really a tale as old as time, echoing down from the first brothers, Cain and Abel, and mankind’s perpetual dark desire to dominate each other.
And the battlelines of this fight are crystal clear, drawn in sharp relief: It’s freedom versus tyranny. It always has been.
Now, the death-wreaking, nation-breaking, and soul-warping tyranny of the 20th century came in various and nefarious forms: Bolshevism, Marxism, fascism, Nazism, Maoism, communism, etc. Each gruesome manifestation of tyranny wielded the tools of oppression as they could: genocide, concentration camps, gulags, struggle sessions, medical experimentation, collectivization, eugenics, mass starvation, militant atheism, social credit systems, and big lies in order to solidify and maintain their hold on power.
These wicked ideas and their dark champions — Lenin, Marx, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Darwin, Sanger — tallied a morbid body count of well over 160 million in less than 100 years. Who would have ever imagined that utopian fever dreams could be so deadly?
While the forces for freedom may have prevailed in World War II, and again in the Cold War, we know that the specter of tyranny will never be fully and finally defeated this side of the Son of Man’s return.
Rather, it retreats and regathers strength. It morphs and mutates. And then it pushes its insidious tendrils back out into whatever society it can find a crack or crevice to exploit. It seeks again and again, through the willing evil of those who desire to dominate their fellow men and the unwitting fools who assist them, to snuff out the light of liberty and bring men and women under its iron first. It brooks no dissent. It tolerates no inquiry. It allows no object of worship but the state.
The truth we must face, as we carry the torch, is that our Big Tech-censored, woke-dominated, media-shaped, morally bankrupt, truth-denying culture has ushered in a new manifestation of tyranny that threatens the generations to come. It is a softer totalitarianism than that of the last century, one that uses an effective form of socially-driven “carrot and stick” practices to increase its own power and undermine individual rights.
This soft totalitarianism, this cultural Marxism, silences opposing views more than it imprisons dissenters. It relies on CRT more than the KGB. It pushes narratives rather than truth, cancels people rather than kills them, and relies on bureaucrats and planned chaos to make successful end runs around the law and constitutional processes. While the tools of hard versus soft tyranny may be different, the goals are exactly the same: To concentrate power in the hands of the one or the few — the state — and to rule the people through a will to power.
So, once again, as Americans we have set before us just two options: Freedom or Tyranny.
For those of us at the eponymous Standing for Freedom Center…well, you can easily imagine which path we will choose.
For the next two days the Freedom Uncensored conference is going to celebrate the reality that we are citizens, not subjects. Citizens who will not be censored. Citizens who, when we put our minds to the task, can rise up and defeat any and all governmental, political, societal, or cultural attempts to censor us or subvert our rights. Citizens who will stand athwart the Constitution and defend against all efforts to welcome that dark spirit of tyranny back under the bright red, white, and blue banner of the land of the free.
Uncensored citizens, not silent subjects. What a profound difference there is between the two.
It’s the difference that led President Ronald Reagan to say this in his historical speech “A Time for Choosing”: “Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, ‘We don’t know how lucky we are.’ And the Cuban stopped and said, ‘How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.’ And in that sentence, he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”
The last stand on earth, where people made in the image of God can be free. Free, not to destroy themselves, their offspring, or their culture through the lies of modern liberalism, abortion culture, perverted marriage, and the destruction of the family. But free to serve God rightly. Free to pursue virtuous lives that uphold the common good of mankind. Free to gather for worship because Jesus has imperium, not the state. Free to exercise our parental rights and oversee the content and the quality of our children’s education. Free to speak the truth that men are men, women are women, communism is wicked, and Kyle Rittenhouse acted in self-defense — without being banned from Twitter or put in Facebook jail or fired from your job. Freedom to buck the trends of our cultured despisers and elitist compromisers, of our gilded academics and corrupt politicians. Free. Free to live. Free to speak. Free to worship King Jesus.
That’s worth celebrating, defending, and holding out as a beacon of hope in the gathering dusk of this rapidly secularizing generation.
As an unabashedly Christian organization, here at the Freedom Center, we recognize that rightly ordered freedoms only find their true expression with the boundaries of God’s law and love. Therefore, as we work to preserve the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, we also pray for the furtherance of the faith delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 1:3). We work for cultural renewal and we pray for spiritual revival. We defend freedom but we ground that freedom on the cornerstone of our faith: “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
We gather these next two days to fight for uncensored freedom. But as students of history, and as honest brokers about the nature of mankind, we all know that censorship may come no matter how hard we try to stop it. And with that censorship will come efforts to destroy the institutions that secure freedom and to crush the people who demand it. We fight against it, but we aren’t naïve. So, while we undertake this noble errand, one that is not guaranteed to yield success, we do so with hope in a message that can never be censored, stopped, or chained. And that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The risen Lord Jesus is the root and fruit of all true human freedom. Freedom from tyranny starts with finding freedom from sin. Those are shackles broken not by better ideas but by repentance and faith. It might sound cliché, but it’s true nonetheless: Faith and freedom go hand in hand. We hope you will tune in, and turn us up, over the next two days as we stand for both in these trying times.