Monday, June 1, 2009

Media and Religion in the Public Square

Our age of instant communication affords us daily access to thousands of visual and auditory bytes of information. It is increasingly rare to find individuals and households that do not have access to abundant information and news sources. Instead, we are increasingly faced with three other challenges.

First, are the media presenting news accurately and with proper distinction between news and commentary? It is easy for news sources today to allow political agendas to dictate their decisions as to what makes the evening news or the front page. For example, many on both sides of the political spectrum agree that Barak Obama was preferentially favored both in quantity and quality of coverage during the 2008 campaign. Nothing wrong with biased reporting as long as we have the freedom and discipline to seek out alternative sources of information. This point brings us to the second challenge.

With such abundant access to information, and the tendency toward biased reporting, we must be disciplined to use our ability and time to analyze and reflect on what we hear or read in order to develop a reasoned response. Critical analysis of information takes time, discipline, and a wisdom that is committed to the pursuit of truth. According to Proverbs 1:8, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1: 6-9
For the LORD gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.

Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course

The third challenge is to profess our opinions in a manner that is clear, logical, and wise out of a respect for our friends, colleagues, and neighbors. To profess, is to express truth that is consistent with our profession of faith. This faith recognizes that we are God’s subjects and He has entrusted to us the stewardship of our time, abilities, relationships, and material resources from the Earth. All these are to be used in a manner that expresses our love to the Creator God and to our neighbor as the two “great commandments” require (Matthew 22:35-40).

Today, Christians are asked to be tolerant in a society that is increasingly intolerant of biblical views, even when professed in a polite and “engaging” manner. The accusations of bigotry and harassment toward Christians are becoming more frequent. However, wisdom teaches us that we are created to be worshipers. All of us are religious. By nature, we will worship God or an idol–-another god, material wealth, or human reason itself. Therefore, the question is not, “Should religion (a system of beliefs and practices that justifies our life and behavior to a supreme authority) be allowed in the ‘public square’?” The question is, “Will there be freedom to express and practice one’s religion of choice in the ‘public square’?

To view a partly humorous rendition of a workplace situation in which two religions are both impolitely expressed, click HERE. The clip is provided by ZoNation on PajamasTV. In keeping with the challenges outlined in this article, take time to identify the two religions featured, consider the source of authority behind each profession, the accuracy with which they are presented, and how each might have professed their belief more respectfully. What is the difference between “environmentalism” and Judeo-Christian environmental stewardship? What motivations are there to care about "climate change" or the Earth in general? See
"Creation Care and Christian Character", and article in Creation Care, Summer, 2007.

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