The old joke has the Christmas and Easter attender telling the pastor he needs a new schtick since every time the fellow comes to church the pastor is preaching about the birth or resurrection of Jesus. It is old but not that far off. I have had people say we talk way too much about sin and forgiveness and I have had folks suggest that people would be more likely to attend if sermons were more practical -- how to achieve your goals was one subject offered.
The truth is that the conversation in the public square is more and more regulated. The threat of hate speech looms large over those would venture to disagree with the politically correct line on just about anything. While some think it will never come to the point of the speech within the church being regulated as such, we may not be that far off. California is looking at extending the prohibition of so-called gay conversion therapy to other media that promotes this now forbidden idea. The California State Assembly passed a bill that would outlaw “the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer” that “includes efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same sex” (whatever "goods" mean). There are more and more voices insisting that the First Amendment may not protects homophobic expression. If it becomes any more forbidden, the church may be the only public place where it is allowed but how long will churches suffer being a pariah for a stance that many have deemed a losing battle?
If this is the case and the confines of religious public free speech is restricted only to the church building, it will mean that many of the voices challenging the ascendant liberal causes will be effectively shut out of the debate. It seems that Democrats may have an unofficial list of promoted causes (and therefore also the banned causes) that will define them in the future. Their heavy hitting financial backers have decided that the party ought to pursue (on top of support for same sex marriage, abortion, and gender freedom): free universal healthcare, free college tuition, and reparations to atone for slavery (in addition to legalizing marijuana). It seems that in order to be Democrat you have your platform made for you. Whether or not you agree with these ideas, the point made is that these are the Democratic positions on these issues.
The point is this. The political atmosphere is more and more pointed, the positions more and more monolithic, and the practical outcome of it all is that these are the only positions on the issues which are being allowed. The old cover of religious freedom may not be enough to sustain a public voice that does not echo the party line. And this soon becomes the expectation of people who go to church. They have begun to believe that the church should mirror back to them their already existing positions and not argue with them. In other words, the church is tolerant only in the sense that some things will not be tolerated. Apart from this the churches are about as welcome in some places as Chick-Fil-a. If corporate offices can be made to toe the line, how long will churches survive the threats? Remember that it did not take more than a day before Starbucks shut down its operations for sensitivity training. Many are wondering when and if the church will get the hint.
All I am saying is this. If we think the marketplace of ideas is still free, we are deluding ourselves. Whatever else may be true, this is the case. The political media and its liberal leadership have figured out that shaming the voices against you is just as -- if not more -- effective than fighting the battles out in words and debate in the public arena. Our ideas do not have to lose, only to be discredited or tarnished against the moral compass of the day.
Consider this from Concordia Publishing House:
This morning, we learned that Google ads will no longer accept anything related to the cph.org domain. They stated that the reason is because of the faith we express on our website. He was told, as an example, that things like our Bible challenge on our VBS webpage would clearly need to come down before they could consider us for ads.Incredibly sobering and disappointing. It is an uphill battle but our mission and customers are worth it. It is why we are here.