Are We Lying About America?
Are we lying about America? I'll let you decide for yourself. But I'm intrigued by a new book I'm reading: Twelve Lies That Hold America Captive: And the Truth That Sets Us Free (Jonathan P. Walton, Intervarsity Press 2019). Not wanting to spoil your read of the book, I'll resist critiquing Walton's list of lies (though I have held similar convictions regarding several of the twelve for a long time). You may check out a listing of all twelve lies at www.ivpress.com.
But the two recent flaps in the news (the BuzzFeed claim about the Mueller investigation and the viral video "confrontation" of Catholic students and a Native American at the Lincoln Memorial) have become a provocative Exhibit A for those claiming the news media and social media's penchant for a rush to judgment. Both reports—later retracted, modified or withdrawn by most news outlets—have played into the "fake news" narrative the whole country has been debating. God bless America!
I suppose it is only human to trust the sources that lean toward our personal ideology or persuasion. But in both these cases, hindsight has revealed a rush to judgment and a precipitous publication of the unverified news reports by multiple outlets on both sides of the ideological/political divide.
And social media? The warp speed with which the faceless social media crowd (mob?) can serve as judge, jury, and executioner is breathtaking! "Don't confuse me with the facts—my mind is made up" seems to be the prevailing "cry de jour" among these anonymous commentators. And even when the press sheepishly withdraws yesterday's hue and cry 24 hours later, no abatement or disavowal appears among the purveyors of social media pronouncements. I.e., the "people" have spoken—so be it.
But the people (like the press) can be wrong, dreadfully wrong. And therein lies my concern.
I belong to a faith community that embraces some countercultural moral/ethical stances that don't play well in Peoria. E.g., the nation recognizes Sunday as the majority day of worship—whereas my faith community worships on the seventh day out of determined loyalty to the Creator God of the Bible Sabbath. We as Sabbatarians are used to sticking out or at least standing out but have flourished nonetheless in this time of politically correct minority protection. Thus worshiping on Saturdays today is hardly a big deal for the public.
But let a news story of some dastardly act become mistakenly (or intentionally) linked with Sabbatarians (not unlike the David Koresh Waco debacle decades ago), the warp speed of the rush to judgment we just witnessed this past week could turn both news media and social media into judge, jury, and executioner overnight. There were no social media when Jews in Germany were branded traitors to the nation by that rogue leader's denouncements to the press. But in a matter of days, the public was turned against those suspect Sabbatarians, and the rest is tragic history.
"Yes, but we have the Constitution of the United States of America." Since when have rogue voices within social media been regulated by the Constitution? Innuendo, distortion of fact, rumor-as-truth, the list of unethical catalysts for the rush to judgment are myriad.
Which leaves us two dependencies. First, we are dependent on the thoughtful, careful rulings of jurists, political and thought leaders and others of influence. Surely our leaders would resist cries to rush to judgment, we hope. Surely the angry voices in social media could be assuaged, would be tempered by calmer minds and more reasoned thinking. Surely the Jews of the 1930s in Germany would have been safe and protected in this hour of American history.
But unless we inform our civic, political and thought leaders of our persuasions and biblical convictions, how are they to be informed? Liberty magazine for decades has been our faith community's collective voice to this nation's leaders. This month you and I have the opportunity to sponsor as many annual subscriptions to this well-respected journal for leaders as we can. Won't you join me in marking your gift to Religious Liberty on a tithe envelope this Sabbath (or soon) and send this magazine on its vital mission?
But there is a second and higher dependency we cling to, wrapped in this ringing assurance no matter the prevailing or opposing winds: "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge" (Psalm 46). And that's the one truth that will triumph over any rush to judgment, anytime, anywhere. He is with us—and we must stay with Him. Only then can we effectively pray: "God bless America."