What Do You REALLY Know About Charlie? (Je ne suis pas charlie)

The right to freedom of expression has become a prominent issue over the past couple of weeks, mostly due to the Charlie Hebdo murders.

I remember a disagreement I had with someone about a similar topic on a Christian forum a few years ago when several people were asserting that freedom of speech was a God-given right.

My view is that God does not endorse freedom of speech/ expression. There are countless cases in scripture where some aspects of speech are forbidden or condemned, things we are NOT free to express.

Here are a few examples that quickly come to mind:

  • You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Ex 20)
  • You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour (Ex 20)
  • But among you there must not be … obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking (Eph 5)
  • Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3)
  • …if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. (James 3)
  • I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken. (Matt 12)


There would certainly be many more examples than these, and this is why I’ve expressed concerns about Christians identifying themselves with “Je Suis Charlie” when Charlie Hebdo’s freedom of expression was often used for extremely ungodly purposes. While their mocking of Islam has received most coverage (due to the horrific response by some who took offence), they have equally mocked other religions.

Stephen Glover wrote in the Daily Mail:

Not many among the millions of people who have identified with Charlie Hebdo can be aware that its raison d’etre is a hatred of all religion. Stephane Charbonnier, the magazine’s editor who was murdered last week, once asserted that his magazine was ‘above all secular and atheist’.

That was a very revealing thing to have said. His atheism, and that of his colleagues, was not the easy-going sort of non-belief so widespread in the modern West, which can happily co-exist with religious faith. No, it was a militant, campaigning credo which wished to mock, attack, defile and excoriate religion in all its forms.

(Full article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2910812/STEPHEN-GLOVER-abominate-Charlie-Hebdo-murderers-believe-magazine-s-malign-bigoted.html)


Before standing up and supporting freedoms, considering them to be “God-given”, it would be wise for Christians to see what is being supported. The case of Charlie Hebdo and the “Je Suis Charlie” movement is a clear, currently topical example. While the current news focuses on their treatment of Islam and Mohammed (and the abominable acts of Islamist extremist murderers), some Christians might think it is okay to stand in support of the paper. But I wonder whether that support would last if they check the Daily Mail article linked above to read examples of Charlie Hebdo’s commentary on Christianity, God and Jesus.

The examples given are so shocking that I won’t repeat them here. The author of the article himself apologises for sharing the content, saying: “

I am sorry to have to describe these obscenities in such minute detail, but there is no other way of conveying just how unbelievably awful these cartoons are.”

Professing follower of Jesus, can you read that and still say “Je Suis Charlie” and make “freedom of expression” the focus of your life?


4 thoughts on “What Do You REALLY Know About Charlie? (Je ne suis pas charlie)

  1. It’s true that we don’t have a “God-given right” to a lot of things we think we do, including a right to say absolutely anything. But we do have a God-given right not to have a government tell us they (or whoever) will be making decisions on speech as if they are (or whoever is) God. Wouldn’t you say? So, freedom of speech is the best we can do legally — minus bearing false witness (against a neighbor), fraud, and calling for harm (to individuals or groups). Then I can decide what I agree with or find compatible with my understanding of life.

  2. http://www.msnbc.com/the-reid-report/watch/rising-terror-as-boko-haram-continues-attacks-384337475913

    I thought about putting this in “a tale of two sieges” [and saw, while there, that I misspelled the last word (matter) of what I previously posted in that thread]. Here (above) is some insight on someone who piled on support for “Charlie” and the visibility of France but, sadly, is not REALLY in favor of a meaningful press (in or about his own country) and responsible speech. Thousands killed and kidnapped and so on there.

  3. We have a God-given right to preach the gospel and promote His kingdom but we don’t have a God given right to say whatever we want to say. [I’ll qualify that statement by saying that He allows us to speak freely, but what we choose to say is not free of concequences – He holds us accountable for it].
    If we are living in complete submission to Him then our speech would always be okay. (But how many could say they are ALWAYS in submission to Him).
    I have seen confusion about this matter when (some) Americans have considered their consitiution as being God-given, along with its promise of freedom of speech.

    Now the idea of free speech as a POLITICAL right in a secular nation has its benefits, because otherwise WHO would determine what was acceptable or not? However, I think that freedom of speech needs to be balanced with respect, responsibility and restraint. Taking advantage of “freedom of speech” to wilfully offend someone undermines the benefits of free speech.

    With the Charlie Hebdo situation, every man and his dog has been coming out in support, claiming to be Charlie – and yet that publication has been used to purposely offend almost everyone, especially anyone with religious beliefs. To most of us the image on the cover of the latest issue (of a weeping Mohammed) may seem inoffensive, and it seems that Moslems are over-reacting. I thought that mayself until I read about PREVIOUS cartoons that were not so mild: such as depictions of Jesus and God involved in homosexual acts.

    When Mohammed has been given similar cartoon treatment in that paper – is it surpising that Moslems have been offended, and knowing how extreme many Moslems have been in recent years – what kind of response would the paper’s staff expect? While they may have been willing to put themselves at risk for their “art” and their “political commentary” (as peurile and juvenile as it was in its execution) – what about the others who they EQUALLY put at risk such as the police who were needed to guard them?

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