• Foundations of Truth

Christians and Cancel Culture



By now, you have probably heard the phrase “cancel culture.” Dictionary.com defines the term as “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.” [1]


Nonetheless, even this definition fails to encompass the totality of cancel culture. Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc., will block, ban, and cancel anyone who steps over the invisible lines of what they consider offensive. Cancel culture has also given license to deny the basic First Amendment right of free speech. It far too often becomes an attack on Biblical values.


Since some Christians have become involved with the social justice movement, the question of what role Christians ought to play has been raised on a more frequent basis.


Some activists point to Psalm 82:3, which says, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” They argue for a kind of biblical social justice that targets causes like human trafficking, the abuse of the impoverished, and support for the widows. [2]


Even if Christian involvement is limited to the narrow topics listed above, cancel culture is still part of the social justice movement at large. The big question is, should the Christians who subscribe to these movements use cancellation?


Stereotypical cancel culture is typified by the firing of a New York Times reporter who merely quoted a racial slur when asking a question. [4] This attack exhibits a merciless notion of “justice” that disregards intent despite the fact that intent is what matters to God. As it says in Proverbs 21:2, “A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

In another classic example, actress Scarlett Johannsson faced cancellation after saying that she should be able to play “any person, or any tree, or any animal.” [5] In reference to whether she should play a transgender character.


In spite of self-righteous defenses of the practice, Proverbs 26:24-25 unveils its true nature: “Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts.”


Biblical principles aside, cancel culture is also contrary to standard legal principles that have been employed for centuries. It ignores ideas like the presumption of innocence and preponderance of the evidence. It makes no room for adjusting the punishment to match the intent.


Remember the reporter who was fired? The New York Times released a statement after the fact declaring, “We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent.” [3]


If this attitude was employed in the courtroom, then there would be little discernible difference between homicide and manslaughter.


“Manslaughter” is traditionally distinguished by state law from “murder’ by one crucial thing: “malice aforethought.” [4] In other words, “intent.”


Cancel culture does not leave room for nuance and runs the risk of becoming social vigilantism.

No one should be proverbially tried and executed in the court of public opinion without regard for context and any defenses they may offer. Although a small subset of people who use cancel culture may have good intentions, their methods leave much to be desired. Christians should not support this cultural phenomenon.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] “cancel culture,” Dicitonary.com (n.d.), https://www.dictionary.com/e/pop-culture/cancel-culture/

[2] “Biblical Justice & Social Justice,” Shared Hope International, (June 4, 2018), https://sharedhope.org/2018/06/04/biblical-justice-and-social-justice/#:~:text=Throughout%20the%20Old%20and%20New,(Isaiah%201%3A17).

[3] Keith J. Kelly, “War erupts at NY Times after Donald McNeil ousted over N-word controversy,” New York Post (February 9, 2021), https://nypost.com/2021/02/09/war-erupts-at-ny-times-after-donald-mcneil-ousted-over-n-word-controversy/

[4] “GA Code § 16-5-1 (2014),” Justia (n.d.), https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2014/title-16/chapter-5/article-1/section-16-5-1

[5] Leah Asmelash and Nadeem Muaddi, “Scarlett Johansson clarifies her remarks about acting,” CNN (July 15, 2019), https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/14/entertainment/scarlett-johansson-interview-trnd/index.html



254 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
FOT_Web_Logo_w_tag.png