Image: Alliance Defending Freedom
If you are a conservative Christian college student in America right now, then odds are you have heard the name Jack Denton. For those who don’t know who Jack is, here is a very brief summary before we get into all of the details: Jack Denton, senior at Florida State University (FSU), was removed from his position as Student Government Association (SGA) Senate President due to leaked private group messages he sent to friends expressing his views on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other organizations through the lens of his religious Catholic ideology. Denton is now suing FSU for violating his First Amendment rights.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
WHAT DID JACK SAY THAT WAS ACTUALLY PROBLEMATIC?
What did Jack say that was bad enough to have him removed from this SGA position? He said three things:
All of those things are true and are very public information. They are ultimately innocent statements of fact. The issue with having said this is that he made these statements in defense of not contributing monetarily to these organizations because they support a “grave evil,” as he went on to mention later in the screenshot message.
That is the real issue: He called these organizations and their causes evil.
The nail in his Presidential coffin was that he typed these statements in the presence of a leftist who took offense and sold him out, full-blown SJW-style.
Jack had a choice when these screenshots were made public. He could apologize and retract every factual statement in those screenshots, or he could stay true to his convictions despite the consequences. Luckily, he chose the latter. Why would he do this, knowing it would potentially cost him his reputation and role within SGA? I believe there are two reasons.
JACK KNEW HIS ROLE WITHIN THIS WORLD
And, he knew what was at stake.
What I am about to say will sound exclusive and subsequently offensive, but the fact is that the Gospel is specific to believers. We are all God’s creation, but we are not all God’s children. God’s children have been chosen from this world. Jesus said it Himself in John 15:18-19:
The Bible also confirms that we are set apart by describing the wisdom and discernment given only to those who follow Christ (Romans 1:28, Romans 12:2, Proverbs 1:7, Philippians 1:9-10). In 1 Corinthians 2:6, Paul says:
Based on these two passages of Scripture, we as believers are set apart from the world; we are called to be different. We will have views and reasoning for our worldview that those separated from God cannot understand. One of those views is that we acknowledge that anything God has called “sin” is evil. This includes our own sin. All sexual sin is evil. The homosexual lifestyle and any sexual deed outside of God’s intended view of marriage is evil, including premarital, heterosexual sex, and pornography. Abortion is evil, as the Ten Commandments tell us that we shall not murder. Jack is correct in using the term evil in this context. In Ephesians 5:11, Paul says that we are to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” That’s exactly what Jack has done, and what we should all strive to do. Expose the evil. Call sin what it is.
We as Christians can acknowledge these things as evil and hold these beliefs while simultaneously realizing that we live in a fallen, broken world where not all will accept this message. Therein lies the disconnect between Jack and the SGA members who removed him: Just because we as Christians hold a worldview that believes certain acts are sinful does not mean that we are against the people who commit those sins. We sin, too. We all need a Savior.
Christians are not homophobic nor transphobic for holding a traditional view of marriage. We are not racist for refusing to support BLM. We are not bigoted for believing in the Bible and its teachings. We do not want to remove anyone from the role in which they find themselves.
We are more tolerant than the Left. We are not a threat. The only ones being intolerant and threatening in any way are the SGA members who ousted Jack from this position.
Later on in those screenshots from Jack’s conversation lie the message we should not miss:
That is powerful. May we all feel that same conviction for our brother and sister in Christ to speak bold truth to everyone around us!
JACK IS NOT ALONE IN THIS ATTEMPTED CANCELLATION
I feel particularly passionate about this situation for a few reasons. Similar to Jack, since starting the pursuit of my PhD at the University of Kansas (KU), I have repeatedly been accused of being racist, homophobic, and transphobic by some of my fellow graduate students simply because of my religious and political ideology. These accusations have come mostly in the form of social media interaction, but, this summer, the accusations made their way into my work environment at KU as well. It escalated to the point where it was difficult for me to go to campus; I considered dropping out of the program on more than one occasion over the past few months.
You may be thinking, “Kansas is one of the reddest states in the country, and chemistry courses don’t naturally lend themselves to spontaneous political banter like other subjects… so it can’t really be as bad as she is claiming it is.” In response to that thought, I would say the following: It really is that bad for a conservative Christian, regardless of the department or role in which we as students find ourselves.
Just ask the members of the KU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) whose meeting on campus in 2016 was interrupted by a screaming progressive mob demanding that the “white supremacist” conservatives leave the school. You could ask those same YAF members who, just a few months later in 2017 following President Trump’s inauguration, found flyers posted around campus conflating the slogan “Make America Great Again” with “coded racist language.” In this situation, KU refused to deny that the flyers were produced by its School of Social Welfare.
These incidents of fostering and nurturing liberal intolerance are not isolated to KU, of course. All college campuses in this nation are full-fledged liberal indoctrination centers at this point in time, and it is important that those of us who do not subscribe to liberal or worldly ideology be fully aware of this reality. Just ask Jack Denton.
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS ON THE COLLEGE CAMPUS?
Jack is fighting a now-national battle at the moment on behalf of ALL Christians on the college campus to set a precedent against ousting college students from elected positions within the university on behalf of religious expression. We should all be encouraged and emboldened by his willingness to risk it all. We must all acknowledge that we are the counterculture. We must be prepared ahead of time, or we will be destroyed by those who seek to cancel us.
If you are unaware of the situation into which you are walking before you step foot on that campus, you will be overtaken. Many conservative and/or Christian students who were prepared beforehand have stood boldly for their convictions and have, in turn, faced similar persecution or attempted cancellations.
None of this is to say that we as Christians on the college campus should elevate Jack to any sort of pedestal. We exalt Jesus alone, and we acknowledge that Jack is a sinner just like the rest of us. Nonetheless, he has set a great example through his words and actions for those of us facing persecution on campus for our faith and ideology.
Likewise, I acknowledge that our battle as Christians is not 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. (Ephesians 6:12). We as Christians must acknowledge that Jack’s refusal to be bullied out of his faith-based convictions by those who are of the world is a real life application of a battle “against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” that is wreaking havoc on our culture.
We cannot let our disdain of politics or our lethargic “we win in the end” mentality as Christians keep us from seeing this situation for what it really is. If we are unable to support him and pray for him in this fight for biblical truth, then why are we Christians? Keep going, Jack. You are inspiring thousands and leading a revolution on the college campus.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE CANCELLED
To the college student who is conservative and/or Christian, Jack Denton and I are unapologetically and boldly here to tell you that you do not have to be canceled.
You do not have to give in to the mob.
You do not have to bend the knee to anyone.
You do not have to be a doormat or a punching bag for anyone.
You do not have to be bullied into silence.
You do not have to be forced out of a position in which you have every right to be on your campus.
We all must refuse this intolerant removal of ourselves and our ideas from the college campus.
Our voice and our ideals matter. They are important, they are not dangerous, they are not threatening, and they are not marginalizing.
If we lose our status, our job, our friends, our position, our relationships, our comfort, our money, our health, or any worldly possession in order to glorify the name of Jesus Christ, may we consider none of it a loss. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Continue to press on and stand firm.
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