German sociologist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann coined the phrase “the Spiral of Silence” after witnessing Hitler and his ilk intimidate citizens until they were afraid to speak out against the most horrible evils imaginable: the mass slaughter of human beings.
Noelle-Neumann said that a society falls into this fearful state, the Spiral of Silence, when it allows a tiny majority of the population to control the conversation. Most people are by nature reluctant to go against the tide of public opinion. Others are frightened, so the majority is silenced.
Have we succumbed to the Spiral of Silence? Have we remained silent while our culture is hijacked by philosophies hostile to God’s created order?
Sadly, we too often have. In fact, Christians have been cowed into silence over our most fundamental issues! Proponents of traditional marriage, religious freedom, and the sanctity of human life are labeled “ignorant,” “bigoted,” “out-of-touch,” and “intolerant.”
Yet 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as born again. How are Christian values in retreat? Why are we allowing a handful of angry voices to control the public conversation?
What frustrates me the most is that in any rational examination of the issues, the biblical worldview triumphs. It makes more sense for society, for example, to build healthy marriages than to allow them to be destroyed. The real problem I see is our failure to speak out against the lies, against injustice, and present our case in a winsome way. I think if we will do this, we will begin to break the Spiral of Silence, and the cultural debate will begin to shift. This is what we are called to do, and I believe it is our most urgent task.