The Open Forum also for matters of faith

This week, someone wrote to The Times-News, complaining that the Open Forum is being used as a “platform to discuss religious beliefs and to debate those beliefs.” She went on to suggest that the editor “set some limits for this section to local matters that concern all.” I was frankly amazed at the brazen request, on several levels. First, that the “Open” forum be restricted at all. It reminded me of our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, and his tireless fight to abolish slavery when he served as a congressman after leaving the White House. Certain members of the Congress, weary of hearing the citizens’ petitions each week on slavery, finally got the votes necessary to pass a “gag rule,” which automatically tabled petitions against slavery. John Quincy Adams tried various ways to bypass the order, but it was eight years before Congress came to its senses and re-opened the forum.
Second, I am surprised that someone would petition the editor to limit the Open Forum to only matters that “concern all.” Who would decide which issues concern all and which only concern some? Do letters about the local school board concern all? No, not the 2,500 students and their families who are enrolled in private or home schools, including mine. I read those letters with interest, however, because the education of children in this county affects all of us. Do letters about the Burlington police and their services concern all? No, not those who live outside the city limits, as I do. I read those letters with interest, however, because the safety of our city dwellers affects us all. Do letters about faith and religion concern all? Some would say no. The truth is, however, there are no more important matters that affect the well-being of every citizen of Alamance County than those of faith and religion. Francis Schaeffer said that Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth — truth about the whole of reality. Kent Hughes said the most important thing about a person is what he or she believes about God. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”
In her book, “Total Truth,” Nancy Pearcey writes, “Most secularists are too politically savvy to attack religion directly or to debunk it as false. So, what do they do? They consign religion to the value sphere — which takes it out of the realm of true and false altogether. Secularists can then assure us that of course they ‘respect’ religion, while at the same time denying that it has any relevance to the public realm.”
The letter to the editor last week stated, “I understand the issue of freedom of speech but, as a reader, I am weary of reading what other people believe, and frankly, could care less. Your religion should be a private matter between you and your God.” In other words, “It is my opinion that matters of belief not be printed in the public forum … except, of course, this matter of belief that I wrote and I hope is printed.” I am thankful that the Times-News printed her letter. Her opinion is valuable and should have its place in the forum. So should yours. I urge all Christians to enter the public forum boldly, to send your letters in that are carefully crafted, wellreasoned, and that stand solidly upon the truth of God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ. “The gospel is like a caged lion,” said Charles Spurgeon. “It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” Let it out, Christians!

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