Cancel culture is one of the most important, alarming and life-impacting trends in America today. In my book, God and Cancel Culture: Stand Strong Before It’s Too Late, I address what cancel culture is, why it’s happening, where it may be taking us and what we can—and should—do about it.
This revealing new book speaks profoundly and prophetically about where America is today, both spiritually and culturally—and what the future holds for society, the church and each of us personally.
To be blunt, there is no avoiding cancel culture. It affects what you see and hear, the news you get, the education your kids receive, how normal citizens are treated in society—especially Christians—how we are allowed to run our businesses, our families, our churches and much more. By its very nature, cancel culture is pervasive; it leaves no stone unturned.
An Age-Old Battle
Cancel culture really isn’t new. Censorship, propaganda and coercion have always been tools of the powerful throughout history, going by different names in each generation and under each new, intolerant regime. The purpose is always to silence opponents and control society by dominance and intimidation.
At present, liberal policies are advancing, and a secular culture is aggressively trying to eliminate all conservative thought that doesn’t agree with it. If secularists don’t like what you say or what you represent, they shut down your social media accounts, take away your ability to make a living and tell you that you have no right to your opinion. The message of the “tolerant” Left to Christians and conservatives is simple: “Be quiet and go away.” Soon, it may be harsher than that.
It boils down to the ongoing battle between the kingdom of light and the dominion of darkness, which has been raging since before time began. After a few decades in which America seemed like paradise on earth when compared with other nations, we are now stepping back into the mainstream of history, and this timeless conflict is breaking into the open. The battle has come to us. We have no choice but to fight it.
Since the 2020 election, cancellation has been happening at warp speed. In the first months of a new—illegitimate, in the view of many—administration, a rash of executive orders appeared to be moving the nation closer to socialism and a one-world government.
The new reality in America is that conservatives, including many Christians, are being censored as never before. It almost seems this is the beginning of the end, and the Antichrist will appear at any time.
A Church Divided
What bothers me is how divided the church appears regarding any workable answer. Among Christians, pick any cultural or political issue, and I can almost guarantee there is not even the appearance of widespread agreement. It seems we are in an unprecedented season of fragmentation, division and actual separation on many fronts. Instead of going forward in unity, much of the church seems to be moving backward or simply standing still, waiting for what’s next.
Today, many Christians are stunned and discouraged. They saw Donald Trump as their champion and are wondering what happened—and what happens next. It almost seems as if a depression has settled over many in the body of Christ. People are disappointed, despondent, recriminating, finger-pointing and publicly arguing over who is right, who is wrong and what to do next. At this point, nobody seems to agree.
I know Christians who are so fed up or frightened that they want to check out and find a nation that is more hospitable to our values and beliefs. But while the Pilgrims did that, fleeing England to escape government persecution in 1620, there is nowhere left for American Christians to go—no undiscovered real estate on the planet to provide refuge for the faithful.
In our day, we live with a possibility that, with a one-world government, there will be nowhere to go if surveillance and artificial intelligence help to enforce total submission. I believe perhaps the greatest danger now is that believers will get discouraged, leave the faith or become part of the progressive wing of the evangelical community where they compromise the gospel and “go along to get along.” Worse yet, believers could retreat.
The church has tried retreat before, and it didn’t work. In the 1920s Christians were blamed for Prohibition, which was widely unpopular, and when the Depression hit, Christians were blamed for that too because many supported Herbert Hoover’s election. In response, evangelicals (called “fundamentalists” at that time) retreated in the face of adversity, only reemerging under the name “Evangelicals” under Billy Graham and other leaders three decades later. Evangelicals also came to prominence in the 18th and 19th centuries during the First and Second Great Awakenings, but of course, those movements were followed by bloody wars: the American Revolution and the Civil War.
History is nothing if not interesting. But it also matters to the Lord that we respond rightly, with courage and vision.
We Must Advance
I believe that Christians need to be strong in the face of cancel culture. Retreat is the one thing we must not do! We were born into battle, called to advance on every front. We must take ground in the face of cancel culture. We cannot say, “Woe is us” and opt out or accept defeat. God can never be defeated. We must find ways to remain effective and engaged.
I urge Christians to take initiative and move forward from where we are. The body of Christ is a big, diverse family, and we must choose to cheer each other on rather than become a circular firing squad.
In God and Cancel Culture, I point to many believers who are advancing and taking ground for the kingdom in a time when the kingdom seems to be retreating. I cite wise, well-regarded and proven Christian leaders who are talking about the challenges we face, especially in the face of cancel culture, and how to overcome them.
This will give you hope and encourage you to do what you can in your own sphere of influence. It will compel you to take initiative. Where are you called to take your place on the battlefield against cancellation? We must all find specialized roles we can play in the raging cultural and spiritual battle. We must begin to understand what roles will have the biggest impact now—before we lose our freedoms entirely.
I truly believe this new breed of Christians will have backbone. They won’t care if they are politically incorrect and get canceled too. I believe these will be the ones who will help lead the prophesied revival Spirit-filled believers have been longing for. Instead of cancellation, we may very well see multitudes flood the altars, get saved and turn from sin, leading to a renewal in our culture due to the sheer numbers of transformed lives.
My purpose in writing God and Cancel Culture is to illuminate the present circumstance for the purpose of doing good—to bring hope while allowing readers to look critically at the various approaches vying for their allegiance and attention. In the face of cancel culture, the body of Christ needs clarity and unity—and right now it has precious little of both. Wounded armies want hope, focus and encouragement. In a war, those running the commissary matter as much as those manning the guns. So it is in the day of cancel culture—we must each wage war from our place of assignment.
The Church’s Finest Hour?
Even though things are bad, we must understand that circumstances have been this bad or worse in the past, and God always came through. He has plans and purposes we don’t understand.
Many people on the Left aren’t even aware this conversation is happening. It’s almost a covert activity. The mainstream secular media does not see what Christians do as relevant or important because it goes counter to the left-wing narrative. They want people to believe they won, conservatives lost, and it’s time for everyone to move on. In reality, the country is fairly evenly split politically, and many on the Left may still be won over to our side as they see the gospel in action, experience the love of Jesus and have their eyes opened to the truth. This could be the church’s finest hour.
This is neither the time for religious fatalism nor political inaction. Believers must stand strong and take action. We must pray, we must believe God for a great awakening, and we must realize that He remains sovereign over all. No matter how bad things get in the culture or in government, the Bible is true, and all things work together for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28a). That’s because we are called according to His purpose, and that purpose never goes in reverse.
I invite you to join this important, pivotal conversation. Let’s see what cancel culture looks like right now—on the ground—in the day we are living in. Let’s advance the kingdom of God, which always overcomes cancellation.
Stephen E. Strang is the founding editor of Charisma and the bestselling author of God and Donald Trump.
This article was excerpted from the September 2021 issue of Charisma magazine. If you don’t subscribe to Charisma, click here to get every issue delivered to your mailbox. During this time of change, your subscription is a vote of confidence for the kind of Spirit-filled content we offer. In the same way you would support a ministry with a donation, subscribing is your way to support Charisma. Also, we encourage you to give gift subscriptions at shop.charismamag.com, and share our articles on social media.