Protest Fail


I was dropping the kids off at school (late) and was in the hall when the national anthem began.  There’s something I haven’t done in 20 years!  As the song began a kid steps out of the class into the hall.  Boy did that bring me back.

I remember in elementary school I had a classmate who’s mom objected to the Lord’s prayer.  She would have her son step out into the hall while the Lord’s Prayer was recited.  For all eight years of elementary school he would do this.  I felt sorry for the poor kid.  He had no religious convictions of his own but was forced to live out his mother’s protest for the whole class to see.  There nothing an elementary school kid wants less than to be made a spectacle, period.  And yet that is exactly what this parent did.

Now that I think of it there was a year (believe it or not) that I had one person who would step out for just the Lord’s Prayer, one that would step out for just the National Anthem, and one that would step out for both.  It was like musical chairs out there.  I was applying to see if I could go out in the hall during the principal’s announcements just to complete the set.

Here at my kid’s school this protest is pointless. There’s no Lord’s Prayer anymore and the national anthem is pumped throughout the school. The kid can hear it as well in the hall as he can in the classroom! If you wanted to protect him from the evils of “O Canada,” you should give him a pair of earmuffs, not send him in the hall. If you are trying to instill a value in the kid you would be better to have a talk with him and explain why you think the national anthem is bad and then let him sit it out in the classroom. If you are trying to make a statement, it is not being understood by anyone.

When is a protest pointless and when does it effective in bringing an issue into the marketplace of ideas?  Christians have lots of issues (boy that’s true on a number of levels) on which they stand in contrast to the general public.  What is the best way to honour the cause of Christ and still give reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15)

I often hear people justify a protest (within church circles) as saying they are ‘speaking the truth, in love,’ but this doesn’t jive with the context of that Bible verse.  Consider Paul’s words:

It was he [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4: 11-15

‘Speaking the truth in love’ is not an invitation to protest as long as love is the motivation.  Speaking the truth in love is intended to help people mature into the likeness of Christ.  If your protest does not give glory to God or increase His fame or invite people to reflect on His greatness then it is likely an attempt to catch attention for selfish purposes and is at best a waste of time.  What do you think?  When is a protest a responsible thing for a Christian to participate in and when is it a waste of time?

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