Noelle Smith didn’t expect the photo of her daughter, praying with friends at a Longhorn Steakhouse on prom night, would start a firestorm – but it did. She sent the picture, below, to journalist Frank Somerville, with KTVU in Oakland, California, with the following comments:

“I want to share a picture of my daughter and her friends from prom night . . . Now with the stories today about teenagers and tide pods and condoms gathering headlines — this picture speaks for itself.”

Facebook users erupted in typical anti-social media form. An example of the criticisms expressed reads as follows:

“I’m so tired of the arrogance many religious people display and their disdain for non-believers, if you are confidant [sic] in your beliefs then you don’t feel the need to ‘save’ everyone else.”

You know what, #doublestandard Facebook users? A growing number of us Christians are getting a bit tired of your fatigue, reverse intolerance and bigotry against anyone who comes out of the Christian closet. So many people applaud folks when they come out of their closets, but you want us to keep our faith to ourselves. For those on Facebook who are going nuts over the mealtime prayer, it’s time you practice what you preach.

The photo that caused a Facebook Firestorm: Students exercise their God-given right to express their faith to God in public -- and people are angry. Photo courtesy of Noell Smith/Frank Somerville

The photo that caused a Facebook Firestorm: Students on prom night exercise their God-given right to express their faith in public — and people were livid. Photo courtesy of Noell Smith/Frank Somerville


I’m not taking the nonsense sitting down about my faith and my God any more than Daniel did when tossed to the lions, or David when he defied Goliath — and neither should you. We have a God-given right to worship God freely and openly – the same way you have a right to reject or ignore him.

Note that I said this is a God-given right. It’s not given to us by the Constitution. The Constitution simply acknowledges the origin of this right, and protects it. That’s why the Constitution matters, gang.

The Facebook firestorm is a clear example the “reverse intolerance” I discuss in detail in A Call for Courage. Everyone wants to talk about “tolerance” these days – and insists upon it – unless you’re Christian. Tolerance doesn’t apply to us. At least that’s what others want us to think. In reality, it’s nonsense.


The above kinds of criticism against Christians miss the point — entirely. And it’s time for people of faith to stop apologizing for our beliefs and the free exercise of our religion. Now is not the time to sit down and shut up. Now is the time to stand up and speak out. It’s time to rise and shine.

We live in a nation where the First Amendment is first on purpose. It protects everyone’s right to free speech and the freedom of religious expression – in public.

Yup, more and more people want you and me to sit down and shut up. But should we? If you allow yourself to cower in such docile environments, over something as limp as social media, what will you do when the struggle becomes real, as it has been for decades in closed and communist countries?

All that’s necessary for the freedoms of speech and religion to go the way of the DoDo bird is for people just like you and me to give in to peer pressure. Live for Jesus wherever you are — and don’t apologize for it. Express your faith with humility – but for God’s sake, literally, express it. If not for yourself, do it for future generations who will need (and want) the freedoms of speech and religion we so often take for granted.


It’s time to push back, with courageous humility, don’t you think?

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Michael Anthony, CourageMatters.comA Call For Courage, Michael Anthony I'm a husband, father, inspirational speaker, podcaster, blogger, and Lead Pastor of Genesis Church, in York, Pennsylvania, where I live among farm animals and snack foods. I'm the author of A Call for Courage: Living With Power, Truth and Love In An Age of Intolerance and Fear (Thomas Nelson Publishers), and the soon to be released Courageous Life™ Motivational Planner. Both are available wherever books are sold. Send speaking, interview, and guest appearance inquiries to , or click here and do your thing. For keynote speaking, interview and guest appearance inquiries, contact
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