Nine Steps to Reforming Cancel Culture

The spirit behind cancel culture is truly wicked, but reform is still possible — and mandatory if America is to survive.

By John Burton Published on March 22, 2021

Bloodthirsty mobs are bent on destroying anyone and anything that violates their worldview. Cancel culture is their weapon of choice, but mark my words, the weapons will only become more deadly unless we deal with the madness.

Read the following passage of Scripture carefully:

[T]hey kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ A third time he said to them, ‘Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.’ But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will. (Luke 23:21–25, ESV)

The mob was relentless. The authorities of the day gave them what they demanded. A murderer won the popularity contest. Jesus was slaughtered. Cancel culture.

The stark contrast, however, was that Jesus was truly innocent. This should send shivers down our spine. Those who wish to exterminate (cancel) those they disagree with will do so regardless of evidence of guilt. If they don’t like the way we tie our shoes, it will be enough to “validate” an overt mission of destruction. (Just ask the former host of The Bachelor, Chris Harrison. His “crime”? Asking for “a little grace, a little understanding” for a contestant targeted by the cancel culture for attending a politically incorrect party while in college. Asking mercy be shown a young lady got Harrison canned.)

The spirit behind deadly riots and cancel culture is the same. Riots are physical, visible, violent and fueled by rage against any and all who oppose their advance through city streets. Cancel culture is invisible, psychological, sociological yet also fueled by white-hot rage against those they hate.

Reformation is needed before the fabric of our nation is shredded beyond repair.

Nine crucial changes must take place in order to cancel cancel culture.

Listen to the Accused

In today’s instant society, it takes mere minutes for accusations against people of influence to send stocks diving, to cost jobs and to destroy families. A single tweet is all it takes to initiate the rapid process of national judgment.

They aren’t only unfairly judged as guilty until proven innocent. They are often guilty even when proven innocent. Hatred needs no proof of indiscretion in order to become weaponized. 

In most every case, the punishment cancel culture inflicts doesn’t match the crime. That should be expected as cancel culture is energized by punishment, not fairness.

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It’s imperative for it to become normal and accepted protocol to listen to the accused. Allow them to authentically defend their position, to admit a mistake or to seek clarity from their accusers. Before someone’s entire career, family and life are destroyed because of the aggressive intent of a few, is it not fair to entertain their explanation? Shouldn’t we allow for due process to play out? Is it not prudent to avoid jumping to conclusions?

When hatred is fueling a movement, logic like this doesn’t move their hearts. This is why we must see good American people rise up and demand that the accused are provided a sufficient opportunity to share their hearts and explain their positions before the spirit of death is unleashed on them.

Offer Forgiveness

Anger, rage, hatred and aggression towards targets of cancel culture are extremely overpowering emotions. A more powerful force is forgiveness.

In recent years we have witnessed tragic shifts in our culture that celebrate destruction of people. We are living in a punitive society that seeks to resolve our nation’s ills by eliminating all who err, and all who are deemed guilty by association. Don’t only prosecute the bad cops, defund the entire police force.

What if we forgave instead? To forgive doesn’t mean we affirm bad behavior. It means we love the person who has failed and we work hard to see that they are blessed in the midst of their crisis, no matter how egregious their crime may have been.

There are few moments more powerful, and rare, than weeping mamas in a courtroom who look the killer of her children in the eye and say, “I forgive you.” We have all sinned, and contrary to popular belief, all sin is absolutely vile. Whether it’s a white lie, lust, intoxication or murder, our wickedness is sure. This is why God’s offer of forgiveness via the cross and the resurrection is more remarkable than can ever be expressed. Outside of the forgiveness of Jesus, we are all deserving of Hell.

Offer a Path of Redemption

Today’s cancel culture is drunk on bulldozing a path of destruction. A spirit of redemption fights for the accused, not against the accused. The spirit of destruction wages war against the spirit of redemption, and this is the spiritual battle that is being played out every day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, ESV)

Understand, the thief, Satan, has all the evidence he needs to convince any and all of our guilt. In fact, he is absolutely right that we all deserve death and destruction. No one is righteous, and the penalty for that is delivery into the very hands of the devil. Thankfully, there is an omnipotent God who loves us enough to offer a path of redemption. No matter what we have done, whether it’s stealing from a candy store, cheating on our taxes or cold-blooded murder, we can be redeemed. The power of love is incredible.

If someone truly fails and cancel culture brings it to light, providing a path of redemption is non-negotiable.

Reject Unfounded Opinions About Motive

Refuse to entertain invented deductions about someone or something in our culture. We are watching Muppets, cartoons, classic movies and even Dr. Seuss canceled right before our eyes. The latest victim? Pepe Le Pew:

New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote a piece headlined, ‘Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias.’ The column noted that some of the first cartoon characters Blow remembers seeing while young are Pepe Le Pew, who ‘normalized rape culture,’ and Speedy Gonzales, whose friends ‘helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans.’

Simply because it was suddenly determined the motive behind Pepe Le Pew’s mannerisms to be nefarious, that this silly, beloved character was to be taken seriously, Pepe was removed from the upcoming Space Jam 2 movie with Lebron James.

It’s time that we refuse to accept outlandish accusations that have no merit.

Question the Rulebook

Fast forward to a few days ago when I watched a preview clip circulating the internet of the new Grand Theft Auto game. The video showed a sequence played in ‘first person view,’ where you can actually invite a prostitute into your car, select the amount of money you wish to offer for her services and then watch the chosen acts performed. Not only that, once you have been sexually satisfied, you can kick her out of the car, stab her with a hatchet and run her over.”

This was from a 2014 article by Callen Price. Somebody please tell me how an innocent Looney Tune character like Pepe Le Pew is canceled but Grand Theft Auto is not. This is nonsensical madness at its best. Paying for a prostitute’s services and then brutally murdering her after using her is acceptable? Who is writing the cancel culture rule book? Who is deciding what is moral and what is not?

We live in a culture that is drowning in pornography, drug use, violence, riots and all sorts of evil, yet we are canceling people who suggest election fraud took place. Movies are filled with nudity, vulgar language and all sorts of immorality, yet we are destroying comedians who use the age-old humor of stereotyping in their acts. Future generations are going to look back on America and think we are all nuts. It’s time to question the rule book. Greater sins are being ignored in favor of the chance to devour those who hold differing viewpoints.

Stop Surrendering to the Mob

We need some brave, level-headed people to stand up to the mob. When they are screaming, “Crucify! Crucify!” we should understand that something unholy is driving their madness. We should stand in the gap and encourage companies to stand firm.

All it takes is a mere suggestion that someone is out of line and companies are quick to fold. Gina Carano was fired by Disney from her role in The Mandalorian simply because she tweeted something controversial. That’s all it took. Disney cowered to the mob.

Today people are walking on eggshells and living in fear of losing everything because of their beliefs or their failures of many years ago. We need to stop listening to the mob and start embracing the principles dealt with in this article. Love and forgiveness are culture-altering forces that we need today more than ever.

Love People More Than Ideologies

We are living in a throw-away generation where people easily dispose of others when they get in the way. Nothing exemplifies this more than the lengths people will go to ensure their freedom isn’t compromised by an unwanted baby. Abortion is evidence of ideologies and personal pursuits being dramatically more valuable than other people. Cancel culture is driven by this same spirit. Destroy people and protect ideologies. This hatred is destroying our nation. The only hope is a revelation of the love of Jesus. That’s it.

Defend the Right to Differ

I’m shocked and dismayed that I have to write this in our once great and free nation. We should be celebrating the right to freely speak and for others to do the same. We may radically disagree with someone, and even believe their positions to be inhumane and immoral, yet their beliefs are their own. Their speech is protected. I vehemently oppose the scourge of abortion, but I support the right for others to freely voice their support of the atrocity.

We should be free to tweet and post opinions about anything from abortion to the election to vaccinations to pandemics to politics to religion to human sexuality to absolutely anything that isn’t illegal without cancel culture visiting our doorsteps.

We Need a Revival

The bottom line is that our nation needs revival. Throughout this article I’m dealing with remedies that can only come when a culture is invaded with the love and power of Jesus. Pray for a move of God to overcome America. If it doesn’t happen, America itself will soon be canceled.

 

John Burton is a sought-out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored ten books, is a regular contributor to Charisma Magazine, and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. He has planted two churches and has initiated two city prayer movements and a school of ministry.

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