In light of the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo, there has been much talk on freedom of speech so I thought we should respond on the interplay between free media and religion.

First, no matter how offensive someone is, there is no justification within Christianity for violence against them. How the Christian should respond is found in the writings of Paul “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat.” (1 Cor. 4:12,13).

For those who want to place this type of violence on religion in general, accuse religion as the cause of all conflict in the world, please note that it seems a rare anomaly for a Christian response similar to the one on Hebdo.  Christianity is a robust enough worldview that it can sustain slander and hate though it seems to be the only group it is acceptable to make fun of these days.

Next, I would say that I wholeheartedly support the freedom of speech even if it means some would use it to malign my personal worldview. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Why is it that in our modern age that some are sensitive to having their beliefs questioned or satirized?

Just because something is lawful, however, doesn’t mean that it is not offensive, mean spirited or in poor taste. There is a difference between good writing and malicious slander. I defend the right for a satirist to draw a the prophet Muhammad in various sexual positions but question a person who wouldn’t stop buying it or a society that doesn’t denounce it as the distasteful garbage it is.

There is a curious catch-22 pressing upon the media here. The Hebdo satire was so inflammatory that even the liberal talking heads have articulated that they might have brought this strong reaction by Muslims on themselves. In contrast, many have called various Christian worldview commitments, such as those against alternate lifestyles,  as intrinsically intolerant and equivalent to “hate” speech. The media cannot defend its freedom to satirize religion in general without also defending the right for the religious to publicly profess its own worldview despite how offensive the society at-large might deem it to be.