The Non-Offensive Movement in the US has become a big topic in recent years. Have you ever wondered where this movement might lead? What would happen if it became federal law? Charlotte author Jeff S. Bray explores this topic in his first adult novel, The Five Barred Gate, a dystopian mystery about a society where rules and laws reflect that it is illegal to offend someone.
Bray’s novel follows Jacob Andrews, who is faced with the decision to follow his heart and disregard what the law says about how he should live, even if it means his life. In this contemporary Christian thriller, Bray explores the idea of the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution being revoked. The 1st Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Bray explained California recently passed a resolution where pastors must submit what they are preaching beforehand so as to make sure they aren’t preaching something that might be offensive to someone.
“Our individual freedoms are being stripped away, one by one. It is a sign of the times,” Bray said. “I began to ponder what would happen if the so-called “Non-Offensive Movement” in the United States ever became federal law. Could the 1st Amendment be circumvented, or even repealed? I wanted to capture the reality of our current culture and add a what if factor to it. What if it became illegal to offend someone? Since everyone seems to be offended by something, it is not farfetched to think that there could eventually be laws that prohibit someone from making an offensive remark.”
As do most of his stories, The Five Barred Gate came to Bray in a dream about the illegality of being a Christian. His novel reflects that same concept. The author of the Elissa the Curious Snail children’s series joined the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) group where he committed to writing his novel in one month. Bray wrote and finished The Five Barred Gate in November 2016 and was told to take a break before starting to make edits. At the time, Bray was in the oilfield industry, so his editing process was pushed further and further back. That’s when he noticed the Non-Offensive Movement becoming an even bigger issue in the US and knew he had to get his novel published.
“I had just started coming to the Charlotte Public Library. That’s when I met and struck up a friendship with author Sara Harris, a friend of [Librarian] Marianne McGinnis,” Bray said. “She encouraged me to speak with her publisher who immediately said we needed to get this book published.”
In March of this year, Bray began working alongside WordCrafts Press on edits and the book was released on Wednesday, Sept. 4. A Book Release and Signing party was held September 26 at the Charlotte Public Library.
When asked for some insight to the title and the cover art of his novel, Bray said one must read the story in order to see the symbolism. It is Bray’s hope to encourage readers to take a stand in what they believe in.
“Be encouraged that, no matter what may come our way, you can take a stand for your faith no matter the laws or rules out there,” said Bray. “I don’t know the future, but I see our world coming to this. To where we are told how to live our lives, so be encouraged to take a stand no matter what.”