Karen Pence has been lambasted for her decision to teach at a Christian school. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, after asking a judicial nominee about his membership in the Catholic Knights of Columbus, has tied the organization to the alt right.”

And a group of teenage Catholic schoolboys waiting for a bus at the March for Life, who didn’t know the mob-approved way to handle a Native American activist walking up to them, are fighting for their reputations.

Of course, this isn’t really about Karen Pence, or judicial nominee Brian Buescher, or the Covington Catholic High boys. It’s about intimidating everyone else.

It’s telling the husband or wife of an up-and-coming lawmaker that if they want to teach at a school, it’s probably better they choose a non-Christian one, unless they want their spouse someday ensnared in a media cycle over LGBT discrimination.

It’s telling the law student who dreams of someday becoming a judge that no matter how appealing he finds joining a Catholic charitable organization, it’s probably better for his career ambitions if he doesn’t.

And it’s telling schools and students and parents that no matter if they are willing to deal with the expense and trouble of hauling dozens or hundreds of students to Washington, D.C., on buses and having them sleep on gym floors, it still might not be a good idea—because the students’ future reputations, careers, and college prospects could all be gone with one viral video.

No, that wouldn’t happen if the students came to Washington to fight for gun control or raise awareness of climate change.

Just if they’re there to speak up for the babies who can’t.

When President Donald Trump was elected—in a shock for conventional D.C. wisdom—it become obvious that there were plenty of silent Americans who, in the privacy of the ballot box, dared to defy the politically correct, woke cultural leaders of our time. But it’s not enough to vote.

I’m glad Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, isn’t backing down and resigning. I’m thrilled Brian Buescher is remaining a member of the Knights of Columbus, and that Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., introduced a resolution saying there’s nothing wrong with a judge being in the Knights. I’m heartened that the Covington students are fighting back, and saying they did nothing wrong.

But they can’t do this all on their own.

About 70 percent of Americans are Christian, according to the Pew Research Center. They—and everyone who believes in religious freedom—need to start speaking up.

You don’t have to agree with Buescher’s judicial philosophy to say that in the United States, there should be no religious test for judges.

You don’t have to have attended a Catholic school or be pro-life to say that a group of teen boys being awkward around an activist—an activist who later that weekend tried to bring a group of protesters to disrupt a Catholic Mass at the basilica in D.C.—should not be a news story, much less a reputation destroyer.

You don’t have to agree with Immanuel Christian School’s faith tenets to defend Karen Pence’s right to choose the school where she wants to teach.

You know what breeds intolerance? Silence. It’s easy for someone to kvetch about the Covington boys or mock the second lady as a bigot at the water cooler if he has no reason to believe any other colleague will speak up. We need to take a lesson from the left’s playbook.

Here’s what liberals do really well: They share their stories. And they make it personal. We need to do the same.

Did your son or daughter go to the March for Life? Talk about it. Share how proud you were that they cared enough about the lives of unborn babies to be on a bus for 20 hours and sleep on a crowded gym floor.

And share how scared you are that they, too, could become targets of social media activists and mainstream media because they didn’t know the appropriate public relations strategy to deal with a protest.

Does it make you feel like an alien in your own country that what you hear from the pews on Sunday could make you ineligible to do certain jobs in our system? Express that anxiety. Tell the truth about how you don’t like being treated like a second-class citizen in your own nation.

Are you appalled that your mom’s job at a Christian school could get her branded as a bigot? Say that. Share the facts: Plenty of Christian denominations adhere to 2,000 years of sexual morality, and demand no sex outside of marriage—whether you’re straight or LGBT.

If we keep talking, things will change.

Because people know that if their colleague Kelly is pro-life, or their hair stylist Melissa is Christian, or their neighbor Bob teaches at a Christian school, they will think twice. That doesn’t mean they will agree with Kelly or Melissa or Bob. But it does mean they will realize it’s unfair to assume all pro-lifers hate women, or that all Christians hate LGBT people. They will realize it’s more complex than the woke leaders of social media say it is. And then we can have real discussions and real dialogues, person to person.

I get that it’s hard. I’m often more of a coward than I’d like to be—even with the job security of working at a conservative news outlet. It’s hard to speak up sometimes, especially if you’re scared people will judge you or there will be hidden consequences—promotions that never occur, networking that abruptly stops.

But we don’t have a choice.

Right now, thought leaders in the United States are working overtime to make it clear: Stand up for your Christian beliefs, your pro-life beliefs—and you will pay.

But we can rise up, too.

If there’s one thing we should have learned in this era of Trump, it’s that standing up to bullies works. And we need to—because there’s nothing American about a future where holding certain religious beliefs makes you a second-class citizen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katrina Trinko is managing editor of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal podcast. She is also a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Send an email to Katrina.