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Chalice's customer service, warehouse, and office will be closed May 27 for Memorial Day.
Chalice's customer service, warehouse, and office will be closed May 27 for Memorial Day.

Freedom of speech vs. the Golden Rule

PUBLISHED: by K.J. Reynolds

We're in publishing. We believe in words. On basis of location, we are an American publisher, and we believe freedom of speech is a fundamental right. On basis of mission, we are also a Christian publisher. Our mission is to invite all people into deeper relationship with God. We want to allow people to comment on our social media posts, but lately some of those post have been personal attacks more than constructive criticism or reasoned arguments.

Last week, in the wake of the horrific shootings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas shootings, we posted a link to an interview with one of our authors who helped organize the Dallas protest. Suddenly we saw comments like we’d never seen before—angry, accusatory words that attacked the author and Chalice Press. We’ve had pushback, criticism, and even a little hate before, but these comments seemed incendiary.

Censorship is not our style. We publish provocative works—works to stir and maybe make the reader uncomfortable with their current mindset—that we believe will fulfill the great commission."And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” We are careful with our editing because we don’t want to censor the writer’s voice.

So what does an American, Christian publisher do about divisive, angry comments on its Facebook page or Twitter feed? We have a bottom line. We need to sell books in order to continue our ministry. It would be easy to assuage those folks by allowing their comments to remain, to assure them their comments are valid and that we’ve heard/read them. To “save the sale,” as it were.

But our ministry is publishing books to call people to greater knowledge of God, which we believe to be bringing justice and peace to all God’s children. We would not publish a book with the vitriol and hatred espoused in some of the comments on our posts. Why allow it on our social media feeds?

One of our upcoming books is Better: Waking Up to Who We Could Be, by Melvin Bray. Better’s premise is, what if we could change the world by telling better stories? That is what Better, and Executing God,and Available Hope, and Unified We Are a Force, and (we believe) all our books are attempting to do—to change the world by telling stories of faith to create a more just world for all of God’s creation. They are provocative and progressive and prophetic.

To those posting comments which are really personal attacks: We know you believe you walk in the righteous path. Freedom of speech makes that righteous path wide and varied. Freedom of religion — as well as Jesus’ words as a call to love our God and our neighbors — means we work to ensure there is room for everyone on that path, and that we are all welcome to join in the journey.

K.J. Reynolds is the marketing coordinator for Chalice Press. 
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