Faith

You Will Be Made to Care Explores Religious Liberty in America

I’ve been a fan of Erick Erickson for about half a decade now. I knew his work at RedState, but I genuinely became a fan when WSB Radio in Atlanta—the highest rated talk radio station in the country—gave him a show of his own. I think of Erickson as a sort of Rush Limbaugh for my generation. He has a unique, effective way of explaining the conservative take on issues and does so with good cheer and humor.

Over the last year or so, Erickson’s life and career have made some changes for the better. He began attending seminary, which has helped him articulate his Christian faith more effectively. He left RedState and started his own impressive new site, The Resurgent. He has even done some cooking demonstrations around Atlanta.

And now, Erickson has published his second book. You Will Be Made To Care, written with Bill Blankschaen, takes its title from a phrase Erickson coined to describe the modus operandi of the radical Left in their attempts to squash religious freedom. Erickson shares anecdotes of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Mennonites who have faced challenges to their liberties at the hands of gay rights activists and proponents of abortifacient drugs. (It’s worth noting that the greatest threats to religious freedom have come at the hands of activists on sexual issues.)

These individuals, organizations, and businesses have faced threats to their livelihoods and reputations when these new-found sexual freedoms appear to trump the centuries-old First Amendment right to freedom of religious expression. Erickson tells these stories vividly and compassionately. Some of these accounts will sound familiar to anyone who follows the news regularly, while others are lesser known incidents.

There’s a certain sameness to the stories of religious discrimination at the hands of the Left.  The episodes sound a little similar to each other, and some of the same attorneys and organizations are helping the victims. This observation isn’t so much a criticism of Erickson’s writing as it is notice that scenarios like these are taking place all over the country.

As bleak as the state of religious freedom looks on so many fronts these days, Erickson does not wallow in despair. Though he is no Pollyanna, Erickson remains a happy warrior. As his fans know, he holds on to his hope in Jesus Christ and knows that, though Christians may lose battles here on earth, for believers, the war is already won.

Erickson also makes the most effective—and succinct—case for conservatism among Christians (and Jews) I’ve ever read. In a passage contrasting the understanding of fallenness due to sin to which believers in the God of the Bible subscribe with the victim mentality of the Left, he writes:

Most of us are honest enough to admit that we are sinners, that we fall short of being the person we know we should be… I am a conservative because I am a Christian. I know that we are all sinners, and so I want those in charge to have strictly limited powers over the rest of us.

I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

In another move that Erickson’s regular listeners will find familiar, he offers advice on how Jews and Christians can help stem the tide of intolerance toward religion. (Recently, Erickson spent $30,000 of his own money on a social media system that makes it easy for citizens to contact legislators on Facebook and Twitter and by email. In a first test, his listeners used the system to convince the Georgia legislature to reach a compromise on a bill that allows craft breweries to sell larger quantities of their product directly to consumers.)

One entire chapter of the book goes into detail about the good that takes place when Christians refuse to put their faith in a box and instead live it out in the public square. Erickson reminds his readers that “Christianity has been the greatest force for moral good the world has ever known,” relating the inspiring stories of believers like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King. Christians—and Jews—can make a difference in this world if they care about their faith.

Erickson exhorts pastors and church leaders to be bold and to not shrink back from the truth. He lays part of the blame at the feet of a generation of pastors who chose the seeker-friendly route and who “tell their followers who need Jesus, but not enough preach on what should happen after they’ve found Him.” Churches must make disciples and not mere churchgoers. The path will not always be easy for pastors who choose truth, but Erickson reminds his readers that Jesus promised blessings to the persecuted.

The greatest practical application the book offers is for followers of the God of the Bible to fight for what they believe. Christians and Jews must not sit idly by while their liberties dwindle. Erickson quotes Ruth Malhotra as saying, “I don’t think we [Christians] should have a victim mentality whenever we see something we don’t agree with.” People of faith must stand up for their cherished beliefs and for the right to live out their faith as they see fit.

You Will Be Made To Care is essential reading for believers and lovers of religious liberty, and it launches on February 22. Pre-orders include an impressive package of downloadable goodies, including audio interviews, a devotional, recipes, and a transcript of a sermon Erickson preached on how Christians should engage their faith in public. Every bit of the package is worth ordering the book ahead of time, particularly if you’re interested in fighting the good fight of faith.

Author’s note: the authors of the book graciously provided me with a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for a review.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / igor.stevanovic