Angst is an apt description of how journalism is feeling during this era of change. The Internet and computers (now hand-held devices) have turned the journalistic world upside down. New challenges seemingly surface by the nanosecond as communications technology speeds into a new frontier.
Yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Liberalism – and its moral compass, relativism – has ruled secular newsrooms now for decades. It is mind boggling how a craft that is supposedly built on telling the truth can embrace the fallacy of relativism. It is like a person addicted to Russian roulette; spinning the partially filled chambers of a .44 Magnum, slapping the cylinder shut, pressing the barrel against one’s head before pulling the trigger. Do it enough times and the damage will be irreversible.
Liberal journalism will never admit that much of its decline is due to relativistic thinking, or the rejection of absolute truth. For example, I was reminded of this while reading the headline of an Associated Baptist Press (ABP) story during its coverage of the Mormon/cult/Romney/Jeffress dust-up. The headline: “Group says IRS should investigate church for endorsing Rick Perry.” This is a classic example of how the liberal point of view is disguised as truth. Anyone who followed the story carefully (and liberalism preys on ignorance) knows that Robert Jeffress, pastor, First Baptist Church, Dallas, never said anything about his church endorsing Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president. The view he expressed was his personally, something he has every right to do. He urged other Christians to elect Christians to public office, but that is nowhere near telling his church it must endorse Perry. In fact, Jeffress made a special point the following Sunday of telling the people of First Dallas that its pulpit has never been intended for the endorsement of political candidates and that it never will be.
But ABP – through its headline –teamed with ultra-liberal Americans United for Separation of Church and State to create an imaginary justification for the Internal Revenue Service to investigate First Baptist Dallas. It was an obvious attempt to intimidate its congregation and others from exercising their Constitutional right of free speech. The same First Amendment to the Constitution that protects headlines like ABP’s provides the same protection for pastors like Jeffress to express their personal opinions – even publicly. Americans United tried this same tactic with First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark., and its pastor Ronnie Floyd during the 2008 election. It has tried it with other Southern Baptist churches as well – unsuccessfully.
Secular journalism invents and flourishes on supposed dilemmas and gray areas. It often flirts along the contours of truth to make its behavior seem ethical. It acts this way because it fails to accept what sin has done to the world. Rather than embrace the answer to sin – Jesus, it does what the unbelieving world does: it relies on man’s limited wisdom and faulty philosophy. The seriousness of this matter can be seen in the incidences of plagiarism and out-and-out lying. No one has a corner on truth, secular journalism declares, and if you proclaim to do so, then you are a bigot. This is precisely the way Jeffress was characterized by the media despite speaking theological truth (though in a way that failed to take into account how the term “cult” has been changed by the culture to mean something different from what Jeffress correctly articulated). Relativism is failing and will fail. (The statement, “absolute truth does not exist,” contradicts its own proposition.) This sort of thinking is killing secular journalism’s credibility. It ought to be a warning to every conservative – and particularly Christian – journalist. The highest calling for any journalist is to tell the truth. But if truth does not exist as most journalists believe, then as Fyodor Dostoevski rightly noted in his novel The Brothers Karamazov, anything goes. What I find so amazing is that editors and corporate leaders in journalism – too many of whom promote a relativistic climate in their newsrooms – act surprised when their reporters are caught lying and cheating.
I have hope for Christian journalists. Having placed our trust in our Lord Jesus Christ keeps us grounded in absolute truth as found in Scripture. I am not advocating “theojournalism,” but we need more Christians in journalism – ones that will winsomely share the wonder of a God at work in His creation and the powerful common grace He has bestowed because of His infinite capacity to love us. Let us propose – out of love for our fellow man – Christianity is in the best interest of the common good – including journalism.
By Don Hinkle / Editor