The Battle for the Mind in the Media
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour…” Ephesians 4:25
While claiming to be neutral, newspaper journalists and TV presenters often report the news from an anti-Christian point of view. At one time, especially in the 19th century, most leading newspapers were Christian. However, there has been a major shift in the news media on what is covered and how it is covered.
After one interview with a journalist from The Argus concerning our work in Sudan, I asked: “Why is it that The Argus continually publishes Pro-Abortion articles, and ignores Pro-Life events such as the Life Chains and the National Day of Repentance?”
The answer was astounding: “Well, we’re pro-choice.” “Yes, I understand that, but surely it is your intention to report events and present the facts, without fear or favour, from both sides?”
She smiled, shrugged her shoulders and grinned broadly: “Well, I’m pro-choice. Every journalist that I know is pro-choice. And, well, I guess we’re just biased!” That was a remarkably honest statement, but there is no doubt that most of the print media in South Africa is pro-abortion.
Spiking the Spiritual
Although at one time, particularly in the early part of the 19th century, journalism emphasised God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility, most modern journalists choose to spike the Spiritual. At one time newspaper articles pointed out that kings who disobeyed God were exposed and deposed. Those who engaged in duels were without true honour because they sought esteem amongst men more than following God’s commands. Lightning storms were seen to demonstrate Spiritual lessons. Lack of repentance was shown to have murderous consequences.
Publishing God’s Obituary
However, as non-Christian journalists came to dominate newspapers, they redefined reality by excluding the Spiritual realm. In the 1960’s many editors actually tried to publish God’s obituary declaring: “God is dead!”
Typically, newspaper stories present random events in a chance universe. Journalists who believe in evolution tend to evidence the Humanistic worldview that we came from nothing, we’re going nowhere and life is meaningless. Instead of seeing patterns in events, journalists with a materialistic worldview simply see random effects of time plus chance. Governments rise and fall, corruption stories are published, people are murdered, cars crash, natural disasters occur, some people abuse children. However, there’s no explanation. No patterns exposed. No lessons to learn.
Behind the News Headlines
The fact that most murderers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time will not be emphasised. The fact that most vehicle accidents are alcohol related is apparently irrelevant. The Islamic doctrine of Jihad, and its role in over 90% of the wars and terrorist campaigns in the world today, will not even be referred to. The Marxist ideology of dictators and mass murderers such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe will scarcely receive a mention.
The Unmentionable Facts
Apparently personal beliefs are unimportant in the mind of many modern journalists. The fact that AIDS was originally called GRIDS (Gay Related Immunisation Deficiency Syndrome) and that a vastly disproportionate percentage of homosexuals contract AIDS, is ignored.
Most humanist reporters who believe in a materialistic worldview, refuse to consider the possibility that AIDS could be a judgment of God and a warning to promiscuous and adulterous individuals who violate God’s commands. If such a possibility is even referred to, it would be in the context of ridiculing the idea that the terror of AIDS provides us with an opportunity for repentance.
A Challenge for Life Changing Repentance
Few journalists today will consider the perspective of the Lord Jesus when reporting on man-made or natural disasters. “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:2-5
Christian journalism would recognise the reality of the Spiritual realm. Firstly God is Sovereign, so no events happen by chance. History is His story. Nations rise and fall in response to how they respond to God’s Word and Law. Obedience to God’s Word has produced the most productive, prosperous and free nations in History. Disobedience to the Law of God has had disastrous consequences.
There is evil in this world. Satan and his legions of fallen angels, demons, are active in the world. Although we may not always perceive it, we are involved in a great Spiritual World War between God and His angels, and the devil and his demons.
Mankind is fallen Creation. Man is created by God, but our human nature is sinful. Because we are created by God there is some good, even in the worst of us. Because we are fallen there is bad, even in the best of us. Suffering and evil are the result of man’s rebellion against God since the Fall. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Gal 6:7
God is ultimate reality. Our basis for knowledge is God’s revelations. We can know what is right and what is wrong from the Word of God. The purpose of our existence is to glorify God and to worship Him forever.
The destructive tendencies of sin within each one of our hearts is very real. Without the Grace of God and the Redemption brought about by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we would all be doomed.
God really does answer prayer. Not by making us feel better psychologically, but by actually transforming earthly situations, although not always in the way we expect.
By seeking to exclude Spiritual realities from the front page, Secular newspaper editors are ignoring fundamental reality.
Biblical Examples of Balanced Reporting
We can find good examples of complete news coverage in the Bible. The report on the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus takes into account both the physical events and the Spiritual dimensions. The battles and conflicts against the Philistines in Judges reports factually the interaction of Spiritual and material forces.
The conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites not only includes military and sociological details, but is clearly shown to be God’s Judgment upon wicked and immoral people, even as His mercy, guidance and protection is bestowed upon the Hebrews.
1 & 2 Kings and Chronicles not only report on the various national leaders and their achievements, but expose their failures and evaluate them in the light of how faithful they were to God’s Law or not.
The Gospels and Acts include firsthand, eyewitness reports of miraculous healings, deliverances, and all the drama and intrigue of the plot by the religious leaders to arrest Christ, the treachery of Judas’s betrayal of Christ, the political double-dealing and cowardice of Pontius Pilate, the brutal tortures and execution of Christ, and His triumphal Resurrection from the grave.
The ancient Bible book of Job reports a series of sensational disaster stories – a family wiped out, their house destroyed by a tornado, herds stolen, physical affliction, mental turmoil and marital dissention, not as random events in a chance universe, but as part of a drama involving Heaven, hell and earth. The report on Job’s tribulation begins with the conflict between God and satan. The drama on earth is seen in the light of a dialogue in Heaven.
Of course, earthly reporters do not have access to what is going on in Heaven at this time. The inspired Biblical reporters were privileged to have God reveal facts that we could not discover on our own. However, we do have the Bible to enable us to understand earthly events in the light of Spiritual realities.
For any journalist wanting to present a compelling report which is accurate, interesting, relevant and insightful, the Scriptures provide many case studies.
Distinguishing Between News and Views
We need to recognise the fact that in every news story we are not only receiving information, but we are being influenced. The news media includes more views than news. The particular worldview of any journalist will come through. Underlying every article we read is the worldview.
To evaluate any journalist’s worldview we should ask:
1. What are his fundamental beliefs about life?
2. What is he using to interpret the facts?
3. What are the practical implications of his worldview?
4. How consistent is his worldview?
5. What implications would it have for me personally?
6. What would it mean for the world in general?
The Humanist Agenda
Much journalism today promotes the Humanistic agenda - man is a product of evolutionary chance and this theory must be taught as a fact of science at school; education must be controlled by the state and must be Secular, and free of moral absolutes; sex education must be compulsory in schools and pornography should be allowed as “free speech”; abortion is a “woman’s right”; homosexuality is an acceptable “alternative lifestyle” criminals are “victims of society” requiring treatment and rehabilitation, rather than punishment.
The Curse of Socialism
Despite the devastation and destruction wreaked by socialism throughout the last century, it is incredible how many journalists believe in the unworkable economics of socialism. Socialism destroys incentive, initiative, income and industry. Yet it still seems to be the favourite form of economics promoted in all too many newspapers.
Superficial and Sensational
Superficial, sensational and immoral material predominates in the modern entertainment industry. It is producing an increasingly superficial, selfish, mindless and immoral society. However, it is just this kind of entertainment that receives most of the attention and accolades in the average Secular newspaper. Those like Mel Gibson who try to produce an accurate and realistic film on the life of Christ, receive abuse and scorn.
Most journalists reject the Law of God and instead vigorously promote situation ethics, amorality, existentialism, hedonism, pornography, homosexuality, sex education and abortion.
Evolution is an attempt to abort God retroactively. Evolution destroys all meaning, purpose, direction, justice and hope in life. Yet evolution is the favourite theory of origins promoted in most Secular publications today.
Secular Humanism is attempting to kill God by eradicating Him from the classroom and the minds of the next generation. Many in the news media are seeking to assist in this. By eliminating the Bible as the basis for all knowledge, humanists are removing the very foundation of truth. They are prohibiting the only objective standard by which reality can be evaluated.
Learn to Discern
We need to be careful and critical in what we read. We need to be selective in what news sources we trust. We need to read and listen with discernment, evaluating everything in the light of the Scriptures. Subscribe to trustworthy Christian newsletters and magazines, listen to faithful Christian radio stations and visit reliable Christian websites.
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Josh 24:50
Dr. Peter Hammond is the author of Biblical Principles for Africa. www.frontline.org.za