Dr. Karen Gushta: Was 2013 A Tipping Point?
Thursday, January 02, 2014 3:10 PM

It is too early to declare 2013 as the year that Christians and constitutional conservatives finally began to mobilize to take back the culture. But as the outrage against the A&E corporate executives over their suspension of Phil Robertson demonstrated, there are some things that Americans just will not stand for. This time the LGBT lobby’s predictable efforts to coerce A&E into punishing Mr. Robertson for stating his belief in biblical moral values may have roused the sleeping giant.   

Initially, my response to the controversy was to agree with David Mathis that “This Is Not Worth Quacking About.”  Mathis argued that the firestorm was only benefitting A&E by giving them “more free promotion for the show and the network than anyone could ever pay for.” He also urged Christians to save their energy for the “real battles” that are coming. “Wisdom,” said Mathis, “isn’t picking a fight whenever we can, but picking the right fight. Yes, we must beware: ‘they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake’ (Matthew 10:17–18), but this is not that day. This is not the issue.”

Upon first reading, this sounded like wise and biblically informed advice. But as the negative response to A&E’s effort to shut down Mr. Robertson because he had spoken pointedly against sexual immorality—hetero and homosexual—intensified, I reconsidered. First of all, I had to agree that the corporate officers of both A&E and Cracker Barrel should be chastened for caving radical pressure groups. Secondly, I began to see an encouraging sign in the midst of the brouhaha.    

For decades the late founder of Coral Ridge Ministries (now Truth In Action Ministries), Dr. D. James Kennedy, looked for the time when America would reach a tipping point. As the percentage of born-again Christians increased year by year, Kennedy hoped that by virtue of their numbers, they would begin to restore Christian values and sensibilities in the culture. He noted in 2003 that for several years that percentage was around 45 percent. “I have little doubt,” he stated, “that in the next decade, those figures will rise up to 50 percent, over 50 percent, 55, maybe even up to 60 percent. And my friends, when that happens, the teeter-totter is going to totter and teeter the other way, and things are going to change radically in America.”     

The trend Kennedy hoped to see did not occur. The 1998 peak of 47 percent has not been matched since. The most recent 2012 Gallup report gives the number of those who identify themselves as “born-again” or “evangelical” Christians as 41 percent.   

Nevertheless, 41 percent is a sizable number, and one of the lessons we should have learned over the past ten years is that a small, vocal, and strategically placed interest group can be extremely effective in changing cultural values. Witness the size of the very LGBT lobby that A&E was responding to when it banned Phil Robertson from his own show. According to a study released in 2011 by the pro-homosexual Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, just 1.7 percent of Americans between 18 and 44 identify as “gay” or lesbian, while another 1.8 percent—predominantly women—identify as bisexual.  

As Joel McDurmon pointed out in “How to Bust A&E for Sacking Phil Robertson,” “the LGBT community is unified, vocal, and has a tremendous PR arm—far disproportionate to its actual numbers.” And as John Nolte recounted in “Why GLAAD Lost the Duck Dynasty Wars,” until now, that community has been successful in getting people fired, suspended, or publicly excoriated for whatever they deemed offensive. This time, however, their strong-arm tactics failed.

“‘Duck Dynasty’ might be produced by a Hollywood network,” says Nolte, “but its stars (the Robertson family) and its audience are products of the diverse expanse of Middle America that lies between the elite coasts, and we are not going to be bullied. Moreover, we are not going to allow GLAAD and its media allies to attack us and our faith by using Phil Robertson as a stand in.”

Whether this incident was a tipping point or not remains to be seen. But the reaction to it demonstrates that when enough Christians and conservatives take united action they can effect change. The question is whether this lesson is an enduring one.  

There is a lot at stake in this year’s elections. To make a difference we will have to do more than click “Like” on Facebook. If we are to preserve our freedoms, defend the sanctity of life and marriage, and restore rationality to the marketplace each of us must pray earnestly for our nation, and then we must not only use social media, but also pick up the phone, send emails, write letters, and attend meetings to work in association with those who share our concerns. 

As Alexis de Tocqueville observed, “there are no countries where associations are more necessary to prevent the despotism of parties or the arbitrariness of the prince than those in which the social state is democratic.” 

2014 gives us another chance to prevent further despotism of the party in power and to curb the arbitrariness of the current president who imagines himself a prince. Let us not squander this opportunity, for as Dietrich Bonhoeffer well stated, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

Karen VanTil Gushta, Ph.D., is a free-lance writer and former educator. Her most recent book, Can America Survive? The Coming Economic Earthquake, sold out its first printing. She has also written The War On Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk, and co-authored, Ten Truths About Socialism. When not joining her husband in his passion, sailing his trimaran kayak on south Florida waterways, Karen is writing about her passions: protecting the sanctity of life and increasing parental control of education.