Who is Antifa?
Have you ever heard of Antifa? The shadowy organization that became popularly known for their claims of being “anti-fascist,”i.e., opposing a system with authoritarian power that includes “forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism.” You probably have. What you may not have heard is that their ironically named organization is actually promoting a violent form of intellectual fascism.
Western Conservative Summit Counter-Protest
No more clearly can this be seen than in the fact that they are staunchly opposed to freedom of opinion, conscience, or religion because they view dissent as inherently threatening. They made this very clear when they organized a violent counter-protest to harass attendees of a Colorado event known as the Western Conservative Summit because those attendees dared to have differing opinions about society’s values.
One Denver Communist who attended and supported the Antifa-hosted event shamelessly boasted about threatening teenagers who attended the predominantly Christian event, saying “a few dozen young conservatives in the cartoonishly formal clothing that young conservatives like to wear managed to board one bus before all three reversed down a full city block to escape the angry mob. We advanced as they retreated, as you do.”
In short, the guy who says he opposes oppression is determined to oppress the ideas of others through the use of intimidation and violence.
This reads like bad satire.
While the fact that the Western Conservative Summit represents values with which they disagree is obvious, the reaction is disproportionate and shameful.
Violence = Justice?
The idea of punishment-fitting-the-crime is embedded in the very idea of justice itself. It comes from Leviticus 24:19-20 “Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.”
No one speaking at the Western Conservative Summit called for violence against Antifa, BLM, Denver Communists, Denver Witches, or anyone else who joined the mob. If you want proof, you can watch the recorded event online.
Opinions that differ from your own do not warrant violence. That is not justice. That is not fighting “for your right to free speech” like Antifa’s website claims.
“End Conservative Politics”
One of the most notable scholars on and supporters of Antifa, Dr. Mark Bray, defends these violent tactics by claiming that Antifa members have a special right to violence as marginalized and “oppressed” groups: “Anti-fascists are illiberal. They don’t see fascism or white supremacy as a view with which they disagree as a difference of opinion. They view organizing against them as a political struggle where the goal is not to establish a regime of rights that allow neo-Nazis and victims to coexist and exchange discourse, but rather the goal is to end their politics.”
The problem is that the way that Antifa defines Nazism makes a mockery of true Nazism. They consider the police, Christians, and capitalism to be examples of “Nazism.”
Unfortunately, this radical group is not the only threat against the freedom of conscience. Other threats are slower and more creeping.
A Win for Religious Liberty
In the recent case of Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Supreme Court ruled that Catholic social service agencies in the City of Philadelphia could not have their contract with the city terminated for refusing to place foster children with same-sex foster parents. The Court ruled that the city had failed to neutrally apply a generally applicable anti-discrimination law and had unfairly treated the private Catholic organization.
While this was largely seen as a victory for religious rights, the broader implication of the ruling remains concerning for people with sincerely held religious beliefs: if the City of Philadelphia’s law had applied to a “public accommodation”(which is broadly defined as any facility used by the general public) and had been neutrally enforced, they would have been allowed to curtail the religious rights enshrined in the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
This is part of a concerning shift in our culture toward normalizing restrictions on religious freedom if the beliefs of those religions no longer align with the wishes of the culture at large. These small steps are conceding ground to the ideologies of “Antifa.”
Keep a Clear Conscience
1 Peter 3:16 “speaks of keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” As Christians, we must not be silenced but we must not be baited into violence against a group that wants to prove we are “fascists” who deserve to be silenced and threatened. We are not and we must never let ourselves believe that we are.