The Starz network series, American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s horror novel is a supernatural story of the “old gods” who immigrated to America with various people groups rising up in war against the new gods of technology and culture that now rule our society.
It’s a great creative idea that in some ways reflects what I have been doing in my own universe of fictional writing. So I was naturally fascinated by the premise.
Unfortunately, it turns out to be a great idea gone bad. A mixed bag of profound spiritual wisdom and depraved humanist blasphemy.
American Gods focuses on a convict, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), just released from prison only to discover his wife, Laura (Emily Browning), and his best friend died in a car accident while in an adulterous affair. On his way to the funeral, Shadow meets a peculiar old man, named Wednesday (Ian McShane), who hires him as a bodyguard of sorts. Shadow soon discovers that Wednesday claims to be a chief of the old gods who once laid claim to America through those who found their way here in the past, willingly or not. And we see vignettes in each episode of these gods arriving on America’s virgin shores—or really, raped shores. Odin with the Vikings, Bilquis and Anubis with some of the slaves, a Leprechaun with the Irish, Jinn with Muslims and others. In the story, these are real beings with real, though limited supernatural powers.
It’s a common fantasy theme about the “disenchantment” of the natural world that science and technology creates in modernity. The “old gods” represent the sense of wonder that the ancients had of the life in a world interpreted as containing a goddess of spring, a god of storm, a goddess of sex, and so on. In modernity, and in this story, these gods have become like neglected elderly homeless who scrounge around in lives of squalor as the new gods of technology, like “Media,” “Technical Boy,” and others occupy us with obsessive entertainment and electronic diversion that amounts to sacred devotion to the profane. We’ve lost the “magic” and “wonder” of life. We think we’ve become enlightened and put behind us the ignorance of religion, but we remain decidedly religious creatures who worship new gods under the guise of secularism. The goddess Media sometimes appears as Lucille Ball, sometimes as Marilyn Monroe, icons of worship no less religious than Bilquis the old god of sexuality who calls upon her sexual partners to verbalize worship to her as they engage in sex with her.
And that is the brilliance of the story, as in the original book by the same title (Although in this case, the show is better than the book). It brings alive a profound truth that modern secular man seeks to deny, namely that secular modernity is just as much a culture of religious worship as the old world. We humans are homo religicus, worshipping beings. And the world of media that traffics in narrative imagination is just as much an artificial creation of the human craving for the transcendent as are the religions of old. We have replaced one mythology with another mythology and mistaken the latter as progress.
Ah, but therein lies the rub…
In one episode, “A Murder of Gods,” we are introduced to a Native American religion including a buffalo deity, and a narrator explains that “Gods are great. People are greater. For it is in their hearts that gods are born. And to their hearts they return.” “Gods live and gods die” with their human creators. Later, the narrator opines with Augustinian wisdom that there has always been a god-shaped hole in man, but then asks with Nietzschean deconstruction, “What came first, the gods or the people who believe in them? The gods exist because they are believed.”
And therein lies the blasphemy, namely that throughout the story, the gods express that their reality is NOT ultimately a spiritual reality, but a function of the human creative mind. The gods are merely a gimmick of the fantasy genre, a metaphor for the cultural zeitgeist, projections of our need to create satisfaction for our spiritual longing.
In this humanist worldview the religious impulse in man is very real, but the gods are not. At least they have no ontological reality beyond the power of the human imagination to conjure them as alternate paradigms for the mysterious or magical element of human experience. That is, the “mysteries” of nature, of which we are scientifically ignorant.
And those gods are ultimately self-righteous. We create our own afterlife as well. In episode 4, “Git Gone,” the spirit of the dead wife, Laura, meets a “death” character who, in Egyptian fashion, weighs her soul’s deeds against a feather to decide her judgment. But since she didn’t believe in gods or the afterlife, the weighing is left out and Death says, “In life you believed in nothing. You will go to nothing. There will be darkness. I will forget ever having met you.” In one sense, a terrifying annihilation. In another sense, a relativistic dodge of real moral responsibility and justice, worthy of a serial killer’s fondest hopes at avoiding everlasting fire.
And of course, “good people’s” good deeds outweigh their bad deeds (as in all humanist worldviews).
Yeah, right. Like a criminal whose good deeds in society should get him off from paying for his crimes in a court of law.
There is a side of me that wants to heartily approve with the claim that man-made religion, is a mere projection, to agree that man does create his own gods—at least sinful man. That people obviously do create false religions all through history. From Babel to Rome to Scientology, as Romans 1 says, man does “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and “worships and serves creation instead of the creator.” There is a side of me, affected as I am by modernity at times, to believe that false religion is merely a creation of human imagination.
But even that would be false. For the Bible speaks very clearly that behind the false religions of man are demonic realities.
As King David revealed, the pagan gods of Canaan were demonic:
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan.
And as Paul affirmed, behind earthly powers are spiritual powers:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
And those spiritual powers behind pagan religions is demonic:
1 Corinthians 10:20
What pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.
And yet, despite this show not being Christian, it does show both old and new gods as capricious, at times malevolent, imperialist and just plain evil—just like the demons Christians would say that they are.
Except there’s one problem: Jesus is just another one of them.
It only takes so long before the bigotry of Christophobia raises its ugly head in another Hollywood production.
Oh, Jesus, Where Art Thou?
This humanist blasphemy of religion is of course applied to Christianity as well, as Jesus is depicted as yet another of the many creations of the human imagination.
In the final episode of the season, “Come to Jesus,” our heroes end up at a party held by Ostera, the goddess of spring. The storytellers explain that Christianity culturally appropriated the original pagan fertility rites of Ostera and turned them into a celebration of Easter, and the resurrection of Christ—which really pisses off the pagans (nice touch).
What the storytellers may not realize is that Christians have known this for centuries. It’s not news to us. Some Christians argue that is why they don’t celebrate Easter, because it is just a “Christianized” pagan celebration. But the other side of wiser Christians know the reality that this show reveals: That you cannot eliminate man’s religious impulse for ritual and cult and you cannot arbitrarily replace those rituals with alien cult. You must appropriate. You must replace old ways by subverting them with new meaning. Man will always be religious. So changing the subject of his worship is the goal, not denying his sacred expression (the secular world did it right back to us with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny after all).
Then we see Jesus at the party. Well, actually a multitude of Jesuses, because each one represents a different version of Jesus that is worshipped by different denominational ideas of who he is (as if that’s not the case with every belief system). It’s a secular joke that attempts to reduce the ontological reality of the historical Jesus Christ into a caricature of yet another one of the pantheon of “created gods” projected by the human imagination.
Again, something that Christian believers would not entirely disagree with. After all, we are the ones who condemn those who seek to create Jesus in their own image—those who justify their self-righteous attempt to avoid judgment for their sin. Christians are the ones who point out that Jesus said that not everyone who called him Lord, Lord would enter his kingdom. That he would tell some of those who thought they did know him that he never knew them (Matthew 7:21-23). The truth is, the Biblical Jesus of history who has risen and is seated right now at the right hand of the Father will reject all the people who worshipped false Jesuses that were not him.
And this Biblical Jesus is the one that the storytellers seek to demonize when they project their own Left Wing narrative onto Jesus. They depict the Savior as if he is a god coming over to America with illegal Mexicans crossing a river. Americans with guns engraved with the phrase, “Thine is the Kingdom” shoot the illegals dead, along with Jesus. These are obviously the Evangelicals who “cling to their God and their guns,” in the diseased minds of Hollywood storytellers. In the show, these American “Christians” (demonized caricatures) are shown to be actually worshipping the diabolical god, Vulcan, not Jesus. And they “kill” the real Jesus who was a refugee.
But the truth is, there are no Americans shooting illegal aliens at the border. Though it’s certainly a sick dream that the Left wishes were true. But there are illegal aliens shooting innocent Americans across that border. And there are Coyotes and fellow illegal aliens shooting other illegal aliens. So where’s that Jesus-of-the-undocumented-immigrant-crimes?
He who controls the narrative controls the ideology
These bigoted storytellers don’t seem to realize that their opposing ideology can play the same game. Their Leftist narrative conveniently ignores the Biblical Jesus who was already here in America with the coming of the Pilgrims and Puritans. You know, the Jesus who was not a criminal violating a country’s laws, who valued his family over illegal invading foreigners trying to exploit his country, and who would be murdered by those foreigners, handed over by his own religious Leftist betrayers, like the innocent American women and children raped and murdered by so many illegal aliens in America. Or do they really think Jesus is a racist who would rape and murder—but it’s okay because it’s done to “white people?”
Some god, that.
But then again, I wouldn’t expect the storytellers of American Gods to know the Biblical Jesus. Because they’ve created their own Jesus in the image of their ideology, while demonizing and accusing others of doing what they have done.
Oh, and one thing we can all be absolutely certain of without even knowing the rest of the series: You sure aren’t going to see the storytellers include Allah in their bigotry. And we all know why, don’t we? Because that is one god whose followers they actually fear.
That’s called Dhimmitude. Look it up.
As Dylan use to crone, “You gotta serve somebody.”
Who is the Goddess of Pornography?
It is a real tragedy that the great storytelling renaissance that is now occurring on television is accompanied by an equally dark pornographic nihilistic vision. American Gods is sadly one of those vehicles of debasement that descends into apparently unprecedented graphic depictions of heterosexual and homosexual sex in TV shows.
Everyone on TV is trying to match or outdo Game of Thrones. God deliver us from such deities of dehumanization.
This isn’t new of course. There has always been that fine line between exposing humankind’s sin and exploiting it. But the reality of sin implied and imagined in storytelling of yesteryear is now long lost in the sensationalist attempt to both shock and titillate through unnecessary graphic portrayal in series like American Gods.
The irony is that American Gods loses all moral authority by regurgitating the very idolatry that the story itself critiques.
But in our world of cynicism, I wouldn’t doubt that the storytellers are giggling in their smug depravity thinking it a profound expression of their own nihilism.
Here’s a Biblical vision of the gods at war…
27 comments on “American Gods: Secular Man Still Worships & the Gods are Crazy”
For the most part, I enjoyed your article. But, you really seem to have it in for people on the left. You might be surprised to find out that not all Christians lean to the far right. Jesus, you know, had both a Zealot and a Tax Collector among his disciples.
I’m not against gun ownership, but I have seen this pro-gun Jesus in some of the brothers I know who are deaf to the victims of gun violence and oppose even the most reasonable measures that might infringe on their “rights”.
I agree that Illegal immigration is bad – but bad for everyone – especially undocumented immigrants who risk their lives to come to this country, and live here exploited by employers and in fear. So, I wonder, are our immigration laws too strict?
You classify undocumented immigrants as “criminals seeking to exploit this country,” but I believe it’s important to ask what it is people are trying to get away, from before you judge their character.
Immigration is not a fixed star in the constellation of morality. It changes based on whatever we happen consider important at the time. Unlike laws condemning murder, or burglary. Immigration laws can be outdated, they can be unfair, they can be cruel. We turned away Jews fleeing Hitler once. Today we turn away a children from Mexico seeking asylum, and refugees from Syria. As the rest of the world steps up to the plate – we who are most capable back out of our moral duty. The family of our Lord was a refugee. So I would not surprise to see Jesus murdered among a group of fleeing refugees in this film. Nor would I be surprised to see them killed by Americans following a gun toting Jesus of their own invention – one who says we need to fight to protect what’s ours. But I acknowledge, with you, that the true Jesus is also here, among the faithful. These would probably be the people who morn the tragedy.
People fleeing violence, or extreme poverty – who see hope in our country for a better future for themselves or their families make some of the best Americans. More so than many of us who are born here and regularly take our privileges for granted.
Our immigration laws have changed many times over the years – and before 1965 we didn’t even have a national policy on. immigration – it was open. But, times have changed – and so it seems have our hearts. As a Christian, I believe our immigration laws should try to help people trying to make a better life for themselves (as much as possible) – rather than simply protecting “what we got”.
Many missionaries have expressed to me what a great opportunity this is for the Church – to spread the good news about Jesus. No longer do we have to rely on sending the few to the many – who live in the corners of the earth. The people of the world are coming to the U.S.
Some things to consider from a brother in Christ.
Grace and Peace.
Thanks for taking the time to respond and explain your view. I appreciate your calm and rational approach. It’s rare these days. And I would like to assure you, I don’t “have it in” for the left. You may not know this, but I live in LA, so I am very surrounded by Left wing Christians who think they can love God and hate their right wing or non-left brother (not to mention hate God’s Law because it isn’t left wing). Trust me, I’m not the one with the “have it in for.”
I do like your statement that immigration is not a fixed star in the constellation of morality. Brilliant wording. In fact, that is my very point. The Left spins it as if it is a fixed absolute without realizing the myriads of people their policies hurt. They cast it in absolute terms that if you are against open borders you are a racist who hates poor people. You know, kinda like that bigoted version of Jesus I mentioned in the story. Their opponents just don’t think in those self-righteous terms. But we can if you are going to play that game.
The immigration laws of Israel were quite strict. They would allow “strangers” or foreigners, but only if they submitted to the Law of the Land. So in that sense, I am for legal immigration because Jesus was for legal immigration.
In a deep way, your comments, though thoughtful and calm, underscore my point that left wing claims are naively unaware of their own bias and prejudice.
You may have seen a “pro-gun jesus”, but I would suggest that what you have seen is a construct of your own bias, not reality. I know the “pro-gun Jesus” world and they are the ones who care MOST about the innocent victims of violence. It is the “anti-gun Jesus” crowd who promote the very gun control laws and “gun-free zones” that result in the mass killings. It is the anti-gun people who are deaf to those victims. And it is the anti-gunners who are against the reasonable measures of allowing free citizens to protect themselves and their families from violence. So, you see how the narrative is so easily turned against you when you ignore the inconvenient truths? The anti-gun crowd wants to take away guns from good people which would allow bad people to kill them more easily. It’s a fundamental lack of comprehending human nature. The facts prove that the more gun control, the more violent crime. So if you are for more gun control, you do not care about innocent victims and want more violent crime. You see how that game reverts so easily?
Your prejudice is also revealed when you chose to cast the immigration issue in terms of turning away Jews, but you don’t seem to care about accepting terrorists, sharia supremacists, child molesters and rapists and murderers, which the statistics have shown there are epidemic problems in those communities. (Jesus was not a refugee, BTW, there was a vibrant Jewish community in Egypt and it was like traveling within the EU.). You focus on anecdotes of people fleeing violence, but you don’t seem to be aware that there are just as many who are bringing the violence with them, as many of the “young children” turn out to be gang members. You cast the opposing side as if they are trying to “protect what’s ours,” as if we only care about our property rights. But this is also a bigoted false stereotype, because you don’t even seem to realize that the legal immigration proponents are trying to protect THEIR WOMEN AND CHILDREN from rape and murder and crimes that have been proven to be a big problem with illegals. So, you see how I could say that the Left wants to accept gang members, sharia supremacists and terrorists into our country just like Sweden has done, and is now suffering from unprecedented crime and is the rape capitol of the world, while Poland is protecting her people by not allowing them in. You don’t seem to realize that your “helping” of refugees results in hurting innocent citizens of the country. Or maybe you do know but don’t care. Well, I do. I don’t care about “what I got” I care about our innocent women and children.
As does Jesus.
You ask, “What are people trying to get away from?” I say, yes, but I also ask “what are people bringing with them and doing to innocent Americans?” You see how your questions are one-sided and your view casts the other view in Manichean terms of malevolent intent? An incipient delegitimization and I am returning the favor.
You say times have changed and so have our hearts, as if to imply that we have become less compassionate. But I see the opposite. I see a world that has changed and become more evil and Muslim cultures are imperialist and oppressive to those host nations, so our law must become more stringent. People used to immigrate and become assimilated into America. They became Americans. Now they come to America with hostile ideology, use America selfishly and keep their hostile ideology as hatred of America (Mexican or Syrian). So they are bringing in bad morality and violence against innocent family members of mine.
You say you “believe immigration laws should help people make a better life” but your helping of them is hurting your own innocent family members. That is not compassion. That is cruelty. PROOF: Will you, and I mean you PERSONALLY, allow one of those Mexican gang members or Sharia supremacists into your own house to help them? NO, you would not. You would want them heavily vetted to make sure that they weren’t. Uh huh. Just like us legal immigration proponents. It’s different isn’t it when it’s you who would experience the results and not someone else. Especially if you have a wife and kids. Of course, not ALL of those illegals are sharia or gang members, but enough of them are to warrant strict regulation and vetting. And for every example you may conjure up about a family “just trying to escape a bad life” I can point to an example of sharia supremecist or gang member who does not respect our laws and will rape or murder someones child or wife. But I guess you don’t care, as long as it’s not YOUR wife or daughter.
So, you see how the absolutist narrative so easily turns against you?
There is so much to respond to here. Let me just say this. Love is ALWAYS a risk, and following Jesus takes courage.
Now, there’s something we can agree on! 🙂 A long as it’s not risking other people’s children and families and hurting other people’s lives.
Thank you for an excellent and insightful dissection of AMERICAN GODS. Despite being a big Ian McShane fan, I was initially torn about watching this program: I expected pornography and it paid off big time. Nevertheless, I watch to see the “doctrine” being preached so I can talk about Truth v. Lie and Fantasy v. Fiction with others. As a media professional currently enrolled in college and surrounded by media savvy Millennials, I am amazed that they watch AMERICAN GODS and do not realize they are being sold a boat load of religion! They see nothing…except the Jesus references, which they despise. They see the story and the pornography – not the subtly of message purveyed. No one researches any of the religions of the ancient “gods” to whom they are introduced. No one even notices the ancient, mystical symbolism. No one realizes these gods and their religions are alive and well today. It’s all just entertainment to them. The biggest problem with so many programs: the packaging is slick and exciting, the story well-crafted, the actors talented and sexy, and the subtly of deception is as good as it ever was…maybe better. Best of all, it’s On Demand – you never have to miss a single one of these sermons. What people worship is their personal choice. I am just appalled that being so “wise,” they worship “entertainment” so blindly.
Miami, thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, this secular culture of ours is actually VERY religious, isn’t it? And you’re right, ignorance is the easiest means of manipulation. Thus our ignorance of the old gods does lead us as a society to repeat their idolatry. The new gods are simply the old dressed up in spandex and glitter.
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan.”
Just a small thing. The Hebrew word ‘Shedim’ occurs only twice in the Tanakh. The Akkadian cognate refers to a neutral entity. I think the translation as ‘demons’ is problematic. I agree with you that these entities should not be worshipped (in spite of my blog name), but I do think you are being just a little over dramatic.
Yes, Shedim in Akkadian is more neutral. But in Hebrew it is negative. There are a lot of loan words that are often adapted and changed within the context of the appropriating culture. Heck, “Daemon” in Greek is not necessarily an evil entity, but the NT Christians called them so.
That’s true. But since ‘Shedim’ occurs only twice in the Bible it doesn’t tell us enough. According to Deuteronomy 32 the gods of other nations are ‘Sons of God’, whilst in Second Temple Jewish Literature (which I can only assume you’re deriving from) demons are the spirits of dead Nephilim.
Don’t start thinking I’m acting as an apologist for these gods, anyone who sets themselves against Yahweh’s kingdom is an enemy.
That’s how translation works. You understand less common words through comparison with cognate languages. That actually goes on quite a bit in translation of the Bible. You just don’t know it because you are reading in English. Sons of God (bene elohim) are also gods in cognate languages like Ugaritic (as well as other places in the Bible). And yes, demons are spirits of dead Nephilim in second temple literature (their origin is not explained in the Bible, nor are they described as “fallen angels.”). So, what’s the problem? Are we agreeing after all?
Thanks Brian and Mike for this rational discourse regarding gun ownership and immigration. I have just one question for Brian,this is from a non American viewpoint. While I understand there are moral and constituitional precedents for Americans to own guns to defend themselves from evil,does the idea that taking away citizens’ weopons would ultimately lead to tyranny universal/always the case? Or is the gun control argument moee applicable the USA only
For me I come fron Singapore,where gun ownership is literally non existant save police and military personnel. We have stricter limits on free speech unlike America due to our size and culture but we are technically still a democracy,our governments restriction on guns have nothing to do with any Leftist nonsense and is more because of pragmatism. Other countries like Japan South Korea also have strict gun laws,I persobally dont think it has to do with Leftist influences.
Anzu, love that avatar name. I think I will respond as Gilgamesh. Ho Hurrah!
But seriously, thanks for the question. It’s a fair one. I would have to agree that American culture is different in ways from other cultures. And so therefore, logically, not all cultural issues have the same exact ramifications. America has a unique stress on the value of personal defense against government oppression. And I would argue that is some of what makes us ultimately morally superior to other countries, and why we’ve become the most powerful one. Freedom is what breeds more advancement in every area of life than anything because it unleashes the human potential. But moral superiority does not always mean more safety. A child who is controlled by a parent and not allowed to engage in sports because of the danger may be a safer child than the one who plays sports and can get hurt, but the latter child has a superior life experience despite the danger, maybe even because of it.
However, I also believe the dark side of human nature is universal, which includes selfishness, lying, power etc. And particularly the desire for control or power. So collectivist tyrannies the world over are very very much alike. In the case of gun control, I would argue that all collectivist tyrannies have sought to take away guns as one of their very first acts of power. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Communist China, Soviet Russia, N. Korea. The reason is pretty obvious. An unarmed people will not fight back and be easily controlled as slaves.
It is perfectly fair for you to argue it is not Leftism in your country that drives it. And my focus on Leftism is certainly an American focus. However, I would argue that more generally collectivism (vs. individualism) always leads to less freedom in the name of more security. It seems to be the universal trade off. Yes, if you have more freedom, you have more danger, but when you have less freedom, people may possibly have less crime, even. But to a person who values freedom, it is simply a form of slavery. Mild slavery, yes. But slavery if you cannot speak or think freely. And all other freedoms are based on that first freedom.
Watch the movie The Truman Show to see how this value of freedom vs. security is compared in an American worldview.
Pardon my grammar errors. I typed this in a hurry
A fair argument,Brian.I guess we can agree to disagree on some aspects but still respect each other’s views. After all,we are not pitting one country’s philosophy against another,just merely comparing the differences. I believe you have a point about the American culture having a strong history of independence and liberty. Every country has its history and culture which in turn shaped by geopolitical factors,thus different approaches of governance.
You have a point on totalitarian governments restricting weapons to achieve control of the masses in history. Although I’ve read for Nazi Germany the restriction on weapons wasn’t total,but yes it did exist and was targeted towards enemies of the state( ie Jews). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control_in_Germany#Gun_regulation_of_the_Third_Reich
With regard to collectivism vs individualism,you do have a point above the trade-off between security and freedom,and why you prefer the latter.
But I feel in our case Singapore is much smaller than America and with different governing methods and cultural identities. We are a melting pot of cultures,predominantly Asian. And traditionally,most Asian cultures even in modern ones gravitate to collectivism. Like in my country,we do value freedom and expression of self. BUT that freedom should come after respect for authority figures(the state,parents,the community) Basically you can say what you like,but not by being an asshole. Making racist comments or inciting hatred will land you in trouble with the law. Because in our history we have had a few serious racial riots before. While we pride ourselves as a multi-racial country,racial and religious faultlines still exist thats why our government can be pretty strict on public discourse. Hence,the differences in the extent in “freedom of speech”. A christian analogy to this would be Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23 “I have the right to do anything-but not everything is constructive.
Once again,this is not to impose my opinion on your country. Each has it own background and value,I’m just making a fair comparison between the two. You’ve shared your philosophy,so I’m doing so in retrun so we can better understand each other viewpoints 🙂
Anzu, thanks for your civil discussion. And I do prefer clarity to agreement, so thanks for the understanding. I do acknowledge that not everyone values freedom as highly as Americans. Though I still argue that freedom is superior, I realize that many would give up their freedoms for more “security.” I understand that impulse. But I also think history shows that in the longer run, security seems to always lead to statism. I do think that socialism is the expression of that.
American freedom of speech does not allow anyone to call for violence or revolution. So it is not legal here to call for violence against Jews or blacks or anyone. But that is different from “hate speech,” which is more of a relative term. My big concern about “hate speech” is that it is arbitrary. Who defines hate? In my country, Christianity is considered hate speech by many in power. If they were to gain more power, they would make Christians criminals. And that is not an exaggeration. They are already pushing for that in public. So would their hatred of Christianity therefore be grounds to make them criminals? You can see how the argument for “hate speech” as being illegal is a reductio ad absurdum. What one man considers hate, another considers truth. It reduces to making everyone’s views hate speech depending on which view is in power. That is why I would rather allow those whose speech I consider to be hateful the freedom to assert their vile hatred. Because when my political enemies get in power, they will silence my Christianity for “hate speech” by their own definition. We protect our own families and faith by protecting all with freedom.
Another caveat is I would find your argument that America is morally superior to other countries subjective. Yeah its probably better than certain countries in the Middle East but for other equally developed countries Im not really sure. But I do appreciate your patriotism.
I don’t think America is superior because it is merely my nation or that it is superior in some unique way. To be more precise I think it is so because it is the one place that is upholding western civilization more than anywhere else. Not perfectly, of course. And the rest of the world, like Europe, has benefited from western civilization values. But as they turn away from that foundation, they still benefit from the residue of the past, but increasingly degenerate. It takes time. So in that sense, I love my country because we have that Western Judeo-Christian foundation, which is the greater thing.
Here is a great short 5 minute video by PragerU that I think communicates what makes western civilization so great as opposed to creeping socialism:
PS: I also believe that the extent to which American culture diverges from that Judea-Christian western foundation, is the extent to which America too is degenerating. So, we are definitely not perfect, and in fact, I believe we are degenerating as well. Not as quickly as Europe, but surely degenerating.
I agree with you about the degeneration of Europe and America, Couldn’t have said it better myself! It’s really tragic that Western civilisation is shifting away from its Judeo-Christian roots(although it had also secular influences like ancient Greek and Enlightment philosophy). But I believe the degeneration isn’t just limited to the Western world only,it is spreading to South-east Asia as well as other parts of the world. Same evil,different incarnations.
With regards to your thoughts on hate speech in America,I have read your comment. It will be out soon. I’ve had a lot of irons in the fire. But it won’t be long. Sorry for the wait,might take a few days to a week.Until then,I wish you,Mr Godawa,Shalom in the meantime.
when i mean ancient Greek philosophy I do not mean it is negatove in and of itself. I understand many Church Fathers like Augustine have incorporated Greek philosophy into Christian reasoning and apologetics as a powerful tool to defend the faith. What I just meant it some of it intially developed independently of Judeo-Christian tradition. Like what you said,redeeming pagan culture by subverting it in a way that reflects the Gospel
Brian, pardon me if I was too abrasive with my previous comments. I guessed I got too carried away with your statement that collectivist societies are prone to tyranny. After all this is not a debate about whose countries methods are superior. Initially I was merely using my country as a case study and contrasting it to that of America,to start a discussion if the same moral response and values American Christians use to confront evil are universally applicable.
The answer sometmes will be yes- but at times no. The geopolitics and the political/moral situation of the country also has a great influence on thr actions we believerd to take,and the extent of our submission to our governments.
But I believe you have a point about tyrannics reigmes deprieving citizens of their freedom in the name of the ” greater good”-security ,and thats why believers like you in America must fight against collectivsm. History has shown us deprieving weapons is indeed one of their strategies,but not the sole one. It is a toxic combination of strategies and PSYOPs that create the perfect climate for totalitarianism. But as far as my country is concerned we are far from that stage. We are not perfect and probably not as “free” as per your definition but it has generally done us well econimically and socially. Probably because the christians there face different day to day issues from yours. So each person to dealing with his own country’s evils.
But thanks for expounding your perspective,it has helped me to understand the psyche of conservatives Christians in America
I am fully aware what you mean about the sword cutting both sides when it comes to silencing enemies of Christianity. There has indeed been a rise in anti Christian forces and leaders in America. For this I respect your conviction as “hate speech” can be easily used as a tool by the Left to silence dissent by their naysayers.
But let me now address genuine discrimination and inciting of violence,not the so called Hate Speech which is decided by thr powers that be.
“American freedom of speech does not call for violence or revolution” Yes, I agree on this point. I did not say that America is soft on genuine racists or bigots. Most democratic country has some sort of laws in place in dealing with offense towards people groups. But there will be always people who violaye the rules or use the loopholes to their advantages right? In your country it may be say the Neo-Nazis or Antifa. In my country it may come in forms of casual racism or threats of violemce against racial or reigious communities online.
What i meant was the circumstances and acceptable parameters for what is acceptable or not may differ from country to country. For instance in my country a few years ago a ternager called Amos Yee was charged for making fun of our late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Jesus Christ. He was arrested and charged for offending religious sentiments,and insulting the leader just after his death. Im not sure if its legal in the US,but if it is its just to highlights different countries have different defintions of what is offensive or not . For Yees case it wasnt a case of silencing a dissenter as his video was not constructive criticsm but slander. Yee is now seeking asylum in America promoting consensual pedophilia.
But yes,we should not blindly rely on government leaders to define “hate speech” and what is right and wrong. This is a universal truth across all countries. As Christians we believe that all moral law comes from God ,Gods law is higher than the law prescribed by the state and the state is accountable to it. So if our leaders make laws and actions that go against the Word of God,we christians should use our freedom in a democracy to oppose it whether through activism or via thr ballot box. So I agree that as long as we have freedom of speech it will defend us from tyranny and prevent anti christian leaders from gaining ground. We just disagree about the extent.
Still it was nice discussing these issues with you. I have definitely learned a lot more from thia conversation.
We are mostly in agreement here. I think the problem with “hate speech” is that it is arbitrary and subjective. Whereas calling for violence is not. It is illegal to libel or slander someone publicly, but that is not hate speech. Do you have a legal definition of hate speech in Singapore? I am not aware of one in America that is legally legitimate. One man’s hate speech is another man’s truth. I think hate speech falls under political views, which is what we have freedom to express.
On a side note i think in USA its illegal to make death threars again a leader. I remember some senators got into trouble when pulling this on Trump,?
And a side note sbout Yee’s case its not a crime in Singapore to criticise leaders. Just no personal attacks or slander
The results are usually court cases or jail. But no we are not North Korea?
Good point made,Anzu.To quote Brian,this dialogue is “for the purpose of challenging us to THINK through our own ideas with an honest humility of our own limited knowledge and a willingness to thoughtfully and respectfully listen to viewpoints other than our own. Maybe, just maybe we don’t know everything, and there is some truth even in the positions of those with whom we disagree”.
Technically this is the official position of the Singaporean government.
I know as a foreigner you don’t have a need to read it but it may shed insight on the way we view hate speech.
I did read much of it. Interesting! And, yes, while I certainly support the illegality of calling for violence, I see some significant moral problems with this Singaporean policy, that you will ultimately experience in the future. Things may be okay for now, but they will not end up good for you.
One example of hate speech used is “calling members of a racial or religious group “vermin” that need to be exterminated.”
This is a call to violence against people. This is illegal in America. So, yes, the call to violence against anyone should be illegal. But the problem is with the literal call to extermination. Dehumanization is a more nuanced and complex issue that I will address below.
Here is the definition he gives of hate speech:
“Hate speech has been defined as all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote, or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, or other forms of hatred based on intolerance.”
The problem with it is that Christianity is considered intolerant by the Left in our country, so we would be considered a hate group. Because there is no “call to violence” in this definition, it is frighteningly malleable to be used against political opponents. “Incite” may be considered call to violence but it seems too generic and ambiguous. Right now, the Media and the Left in America are calling conservative politic views, “incitement to violence.” Republicans, conservatives and Christians are called xenophobic in our country, so that would justify them using state violence against us.
I would not disagree with the dangers or with understanding the process of how radicalization and violence grows. The problem is that as soon as you have the state take control of defining what is and isn’t acceptable to think or speak, it’s ultimate motivation is to justify and maintain its own power structure — at all costs.
Dehumanization or promoting “in group” mentality, etc, can definitely lead to violence. But not always. In fact, God does it. The Jewish prophets, Jews, Jesus and the apostles would be put in jail in Singapore because they “dehumanized” sinners and evil people as “foxes” “dogs,” “pigs,” “unthinking animals” and many derogatory dehumanizing terms against evil (Luke 13:32; Mark 7:27; Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2; Revelation 22:15; Jude 10; 2Peter 2:12, 22; . Jews are very “insider group” oriented, which according to this statement is evil and leads to violence and must be stopped. The fact that Singapore does not do so against Jews, is simply an inconsistency of application of law. But one day, it will not be inconsistent. My point here is that this is a kind of “Minority Report” version of stopping crime before it happens. But by doing so, you end up crushing the freedom and lives of people who are not in fact criminals but do these things. Jesus would be thrown in jail in Singapore.
Again, the call to violence against anyone or government is immoral and should be illegal. So, many of the examples in that statement I would agree with. The problem is that it goes too far and criminalizes the Bible, which dehumanizes evil people, but in fact does not lead to violence. Actually, some people do read the Bible and BELIEVE that it leads them to violence and engage in violence. So should we make the Bible illegal? Of course not. Not all dehumanizing rhetoric leads to violence, and if Jesus and the prophets and God use such rhetoric, then there is a legitimate place for it in our discourse.
Another disconcerting thing I read was “Geert Wilders, who called the Prophet a “paedophile, mass murderer, terrorist and madman”. He has also said the Quran is worse than Mein Kampf, and called for the closing of mosques” He then uses this as an illegitimate denigration of a religion.” But Wilders’ statement is true. It is literally true, which actually exposes the TRUE imperialist religion of violence that actually calls for the violent subjugation of all “outsiders,” non-Muslims. Wilders is calling out evildoers who seek violence against outsiders, but Singapore is protecting this evil in the name of protecting “outsiders.” Also, this person is a dhimmi who submits to Islam by calling Mohammed, “The Prophet,” which he is not. So this person is promoting Islam over Christianity, unwittingly, but he is.
He then writes in this law of, “the right of others to have their religious feelings protected,” by not allowing a woman to call the founder of Islam what he ACTUALLY IS. Yet Jesus Christ is allowed to be denigrated by those same Muslims, and everywhere on TV, music, etc. The problem here is that this policy is actually feeding the growth of imperialist Islam. You may not have it yet, but it will be there eventually.
The regulation says, “(i) Criminalises deliberate wounding of a person’s racial or religious feelings.”
Do you realize that ALL criticism of Islam and Mohammed is considered wounding to a Muslim’s feelings? This is literally outlawing all criticism of Islam. But of course, Muslims can and do criticize and hurt Christian’s feelings all the time when they attack Jesus and deny his deity and call the Bible fraudulent. Do you see that Singapore is sowing the seeds of its own destruction? Sure, it may not happen right now, it may take time before people act more consistently with the law. But they will.
He writes of one such hate speech example: “One of the preachers had described Allah as “a false god”, asked for prayers for those “held captive in the darkness of Islam”, and referred to Buddhists as “Tohuw people” – which is a Hebrew word for “lost, lifeless, confused and spiritually barren” individuals – who can be saved only by converting to Christianity.”
But this is EXACTLY how the Bible and God’s prophets speak of such people. Do you realize that this law would outlaw the Bible and put Jesus and the prophets in prison for preaching the truth? They have not done so yet. But they will, my brother. They will.
I can go on, but the pattern to me is dangerous. While I agree that hatred and offensiveness can grow with freedom, and that we must as a society address this growing hatred, we cannot and must not use government to do so because then the government always ends in arbitrary oppression of moral goodness in the name of moral goodness. Because “hate” or “good” is defined by those in power as whatever disagrees with that power. Did you know that Nero called Christians “Haters of the human race” as his justification to persecute them with the government? That is what makes Americans so committed to keeping this kind of power out of the hands of government, because government has the ultimate power of the gun to destroy its citizens.
Hate speech is arbitrary and subjective. It is a malleable term that is used to oppress those with whom someone disagrees, and it will ultimately be used to imprison and kill Christians for being “haters of the human race.”
Here are some good American defenses of free speech over hate speech by Steven Crowder:
Thank you for this interesting discussion, and for your graciousness and respect. I do not have time to continue the discussion, so let this be the final post. Since this is my website, I get the last word! 🙂 Your arguments have made me think deeper on the subject and there is nuance for us all to consider. I hope we have helped each other to think deeper about that nuance.
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